Alaska cruises offer travelers the opportunity to enjoy all the luxuries that today’s cruise ships offer, combined with the rugged beauty of Alaska itself. And while some people think they'll need to be bundled up in their down coats and snow boots for the duration, that’s just not true! Alaska's cruise season runs from May to September, and the weather fluctuates between 50 and 70 degrees, sometimes reaching the mid-80’s in the afternoon, while occasionally dropping to 30 or 40 degrees at night. There’s a good chance you’ll encounter some rain during your cruise (especially in August), but snow is highly unlikely. And therein lies the challenge. What do you pack differently when going on an Alaska cruise?
When you pack for an Alaska cruise, think layering, taking light, medium and some heavy weight casual, comfortable clothing. Shirts that layer easily such as t-shirts, turtlenecks, fleece sweaters and sweatshirts will come in most handy. Moisture-wicking under-layers are a great choice for both men and women that are planning active outdoor activities such as hiking, glacier trekking, kayaking, etc.
Water-resistant or waterproof outerwear is a must. This could be a slicker, rain poncho, or gortex jacket, preferably hooded. Waterproof gloves will take up little space in your suitcase and you won’t regret having them while spending extended hours on deck watching for glaciers, whales and dolphins.
Bring comfortable walking or hiking shoes, depending on the activities you have planned. They need to have good traction for wet deck and ashore activities. Sneakers will do, but not for cold glacier tours (where you'll also need warm socks).
Backpacks or a nylon sling bag are a must for going ashore. They easily store any extra clothing layers that are peeled off, rain ponchos, cameras or souvenirs bought in port. And don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen. It may not be a tropical destination, but the sun's UV rays are strong in Alaska and the sun off of the ice can be very intense. Insect repellent, binoculars, a travel umbrella, and a spare memory card for your camera are other items you’ll be glad to have.
Sea days are casual on an Alaska cruise and even the formal evenings are a bit less formal than other itineraries. Pack the bathing suits because as I said earlier, afternoons can be warm and in addition, many ships have enclosed pool areas.
The bottom line is that southeast Alaska is not the frozen arctic that many presume it to be. Temperatures fluctuate but it you bring clothes that can be easily layered, as well as a waterproof jacket, you’ll be all ready to explore America’s Last Frontier!"