The Ultimate Alaska Cruise Packing List (2020)
Does a cruise trip to the Alaskan glaciers pique your interest? It should! Taking a cruise to The Last Frontier is often on the bucket list of many wanderlusts. Prepare for stunning views of glaciers, mountains and wildlife at every turn of the ship! But hey, before making sure you’ve got your bags packed and ready to go, get to know the latest update on COVID-19 for cruise trips.
⚠️ Update for COVID-19 on Cruise Ship Voyages
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently discourages travel on cruise ships, as well as river cruises, all over the world. CDC has issued such trips as a Level 3 Warning travel health notice (Avoid Nonessential Travel), citing that the risk of COVID-19 transmission on cruise ships is high.
Furthermore, CDC extended the No Sail Order and Suspension of Further Embarkation for cruise ships sailing in US waters until September 30, 2020. Visit this website to know more details.
When everything's up and running again, you can press play on that cruise trip you've been planning to have. And don't worry, we’ve got the ultimate Alaska cruise packing list (stay until the end for the downloadable version) to help you get started. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get packing!
Alaska Cruise Packing Checklist
Let’s start off with the checklist on what you should pack for your Alaska cruise. Below are the possible items you might need (that you can tweak to your own style of traveling):
Carry On Hand Bag: As always, your carry-on bag should contain ALL the items you can’t afford to lose. Also a change of clothes while you’re waiting for your checked luggage on board.
☐ Travel documents - Everything you need for your flight and cruise trip like passports, visas, itineraries, tickets and IDs should be in your carry on bag or duffle bag. Designate one bag where all these documents can go (so they’re easy to grab when needed).
☐ Electronics - Cameras, smartphones and tablets should also be in your carry on. Same goes for chargers and accessories (like extra lenses).
☐ Toiletries - You might want to brush your teeth or wash your face while waiting for your checked luggage. Use our TSA Approved Clear Toiletry Bag for your travel-size toiletries. It’s quart size and has a see-through design (compliant with TSA standards).
☐ First aid kit - Pack your prescription medicines alongside other non-prescription medicines in your first aid pouch! You’ll thank us when you suddenly develop nausea or an upset tummy during embarkation day.
☐ Change of clothes - Pack at least a change of underwear and shirt in your carry on.
☐ Other valuables - Your wallet, keys and jewelry (if you’re bringing some) should also be inside your carry on.
Checked Luggage: Packing for an Alaska cruise is different from packing for a regular cruise or even a Caribbean cruise. You can’t pack the same clothes for an Alaskan cruise because the climate is VERY different! Here’s what your checked luggage should contain:
☐ Casual shirts / button downs - These can double as your base top and for loungewear! On the cruise ship, you can get away with wearing casual tees. You can also pack some button downs which are dressier for dinners.
☐ Lightweight sweaters / fleece - For your mid-layer (warmth), pack at least 2 sweaters. You’ll want something lightweight but still thick enough to keep you warm. Try a merino sweater, which is more comfy than a wool sweater! You can also go for a fleece top which locks in heat effectively.
☐ Thermal bottoms - For moms, go for thermal leggings which can be worn under joggers, skirts or shorts. Dads can go for thermal fleece pants or hiking pants. These are great when you have glacier or snow excursions too.
☐ Casual bottoms - You can’t go wrong with jeans for an Alaskan cruise! Pack 1 pair of regular jeans and 1 black pair. Other options are jogger pants, khakis and yoga pants (for lounging). Temperatures change a lot in Alaska but wearing shorts isn’t ideal.
☐ Waterproof jacket or down - This is the last layer for your upper body. A waterproof jacket protects you from getting wet (it rains very frequently in Alaska)! One problem is that you won’t always need to wear it plus it’s bulky. We recommend investing in a packable down jacket. It can be neatly folded and packed discreetly when not in use. Hooded is a must so you can get some rain protection as well!
☐ Long sleeve shirts / sweatshirts - These are a must for lounging around the ship! They aren’t as thick but can provide some comfort when you’re on deck.
☐ Formal dress / suit - Pack 1 to 2 formal outfits for special nights. It could be a maxi dress, slacks or cocktail dress for mom. Dads can go for a casual suit or formal polo with a tie.
☐ Underwear / socks - Pack 1 pair for each day of the trip, plus two extras. If you’re planning on doing lots of hiking, pack plenty of waterproof socks too.
☐ Beanie / gloves - Not a necessity but nice to have when you have glacier or hiking trips.
☐ Warm scarf - Must have especially for moms! A nice, neutral fleece scarf can keep you warm while also spicing up your look.
☐ Swimsuit - You won’t be doing a lot of swimming but most cruise ships to Alaska have a hot tub. You can enjoy swimming while viewing those beautiful glaciers! Pro tip: Bring your bathroom robe from the cabin to keep you warm after a dip in the hot tub.
Pro Tip: What to wear on an Alaskan cruise trip? Casual short and long sleeve shirts are okay for your cabin (because there’s temperature control). On the deck and during excursions, you’ll need to layer to keep warm.
Keep your luggage organized (and your cabin neat) by getting yourself (and your family) The Complete Bundle from EzPacking. It has two sets of packing cubes in each size to help you (and your suitcase) stay organized...especially if you’re the kind to “live out of your suitcase.” It also comes with a laundry bag, two shoe bags and folding board set to help you fold your shirts nicely.
☐ Waterproof hiking boots - If your excursions include hiking or trekking, a good pair of waterproof hiking boots is a must! If you have river or lake excursions, you can bring waterproof duck boots instead.
☐ Waterproof walking shoes - For sightseeing trips around town, you can also bring waterproof walking shoes. Just make sure you break in new shoes before bringing them on your trip!
☐ Formal shoes - Bring matching formal shoes for your formal dress or suit. Wedges or nice flats for mom and loafers for dad are perfect!
☐ Flip flops - We love warm fuzzy slippers so there’s no need to wear closed shoes while on the deck or on your balcony.
Pro Tip: Wear your bulkiest shoes during the flight to save luggage space! For your other shoes, keep them covered in our travel shoe bags.
First Aid Kit
☐ Insect repellent - Must have when going hiking or when you have kids with you! You can opt for a DEET-free repellent.
☐ Motion sickness bands - These motion sickness wristbands mean one less medicine to pack! Snap on your wrist and worry less about seasickness.
☐ Headache medicines - It’s hard to enjoy the Alaskan views when you got a throbbing headache. Pack a few Advils just to be sure.
☐ Cough / cold medicines - Bring some lozenges you can take at the onset of a cold or cough.
☐ Fever reducer - Can’t forget the Motrin when you have kids!
☐ Allergy medicines - Pack a travel-size version of your favorite allergy relief medicine.
☐ Stomach medicine - For diarrhea, acid reflux or constipation, make sure you pack all your medicines for any stomach issues that come your way.
☐ Prescription medicines - Pack your prescription medicines in their original bottle to avoid being questioned (or better yet, bring your physician’s prescription letter).
☐ Bandaids with antibiotic ointment - These multi-size band aids already have neosporin for killing bacteria, very practical and space saving!
☐ Moleskin - Very handy for preventing blister formation (which is common when you’re walking a lot).
Pro Tip: Fill a medicine box with these medicines (with labels) and store alongside your bandages in our Extra Small Cube. Whenever you have shore excursions, you can bring the first aid pouch with you.
☐ Sunscreen - There’s a reason why Alaska is known as The Land of the Midnight Sun. The sun almost never sets in the state during summer! Pack lots of sunscreen to keep your skin protected from the harmful rays of the sun.
☐ Shampoo and conditioner - Not a necessity (the ship provides them) but nice to have for comfort and familiarity.
☐ Body wash and soap - Also not a necessity (provided by the ship) but good to have when you have a big family with you.
☐ Toothbrush and toothpaste - Must have especially with kids (they can’t brush their teeth without their strawberry toothpaste right?).
☐ Deodorant - Good to have especially when you’re going hiking or doing any strenuous activities.
☐ Moisturizer / lotion - Low temperatures can lead to dry and dehydrated skin.
☐ Facial wash - Must have when you wear makeup on a daily basis!
☐ Cosmetics - Speaking of makeup, you can pack as much as you’d like (just be realistic). No worries about your makeup melting compared to when you’re traveling to the Caribbean.
☐ Wipes / hand sanitizer - Because let’s face it, cabins aren’t the most hygienic place on Earth. Pack some wipes and hand sanitizer to keep things feeling fresh and clean!
☐ Lip balm - Dry and cold temperature equals chapped lips! That’s not a pretty sight, so pack a moisturizing lip balm to keep your lips hydrated and soft.
Pro Tip: Bringing a large amount of toiletries? Fit them inside our Small Packing Cube! With its clam-shell opening, you can set it on your bathroom counter and use it as a caddy for all your toiletries. Easy peasy!
☐ Camera + charger - There’s lots of scenic views to capture in Alaska. Get your camera ready, pack an extra memory card or two and an additional battery (you’re going to need them).
☐ Smartphone + charger - For navigating through ports or finding the best local restaurant, your smartphone has lots of uses for your Alaskan cruise.
☐ Tablet + charger - There will be some down times during the trip. Download a few apps or some of your favorite episodes on your tablet so you can be entertained even without WiFi.
☐ Ebook reader + charger - If you’d rather spend your time reading, bring your fave ebook reader! Don’t forget to pre-download some books before your trip.
☐ Power strip / extension cord - Bring a compact extension cord (without surge protector) for charging ALL your devices at the same time.
☐ Headphones / earphones - So everyone in the family can enjoy doing their own stuff without disturbing others!
☐ Waterproof bag - For hiking or adventure excursions, pack a waterproof backpack with you. It will help keep all your items protected from water. For short excursions, you can bring a cross-body bag. It’s more convenient because you can track your belongings and also keep your hands free!
☐ Umbrella / poncho - If you’ve got a waterproof jacket, there’s no need for this. But if you don’t want to lug around a heavy jacket, a lightweight poncho can do the job as well. Want added protection from the rain? Pack a compact umbrella in your day bag.
☐ Binoculars (a must!) - Binoculars might not be as important on other types of cruises. But with an Alaskan cruise, it’s a must have! You can get closer visuals of stunning mountains, waterfalls and glaciers with a powerful set of binoculars. Bring at least 2 so there’s less arguments among siblings!
☐ Sunglasses - You’ll still need sunglasses for every member of the family!
☐ Brim hat - Added protection from the sun.
☐ Disinfectant wipes - You can never be too sure when it comes to cleanliness. Pack some disinfectant wipes to sanitize areas where you’ll eat or go in direct contact with.
☐ Thermal mug - Ideal for moms and dads who can’t survive without their early morning coffee!
☐ Evening purse - A classy purse to go with your maxi or little black dress, it just keeps your look put together!
☐ Essential oils - Versatile uses for essential oils, can be used to relieve aches, for deodorizing the cabin or for moisturizing. We love Doterra, especially their lavender essential oil!
Special Tips for an Alaska Cruise
Here are a few more tips to make your Alaska cruise more epic:
1. Go for a cabin with a balcony - Essential when you have toddlers or kids with you! A cabin with a balcony allows you to enjoy the Alaskan scenery in your own privacy (even with the little ones napping). Going on a one-way Alaskan cruise? Choose the starboard side when going from south to north and the port side when going from north to south. For a round trip, either side is fine!
2. Peak tourist season is still the best time to visit - Cruises to Alaska are available from May to September only. However, the best months for cruising are June and July (which is also the peak tourist season). If you want to see wildlife or adventure activities, go for any of these months! Want to save money or avoid the busy peak season? You can go for May or September, but you might not be able to see as much wildlife or enjoy all adventures.
3. One way Alaskan cruise trip is worth it - Sure you might spend more money on flights and hotels but you can explore Alaska more with a one-way trip. You can spend more time on excursions. Or even add in a few places to explore (just allot additional days for sightseeing before embarkation day).
4. Splurge on excursions - Chances are, your trip to Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! So why not splurge on the activities that would make your trip even more exciting? The two "can’t miss" excursions are whale watching and glacier hiking (best booked with cruise line). There are also more adrenaline-pumping ones like zip-lining or dog sledding. Take your pick and add them in your itinerary!
5. Be flexible because weather changes a lot - It could be sunny in the morning and raining in the afternoon. Be flexible because these changes are out of your control. Some activities can be cancelled when the weather turns for the worse. Don’t worry! There’s lots of other activities to choose from.
6. Make organization a priority - Plan your itinerary ahead of time so you can get more done on your Alaskan cruise. Also invest in Clear Packing Cubes to keep both your luggage and cabin organized. Use them as traveling drawers so you won’t need to unpack your clothes in the cabin. Don’t forget to keep track of daily schedules (given by cruise line) so you can take advantage of on-board activities.
So what’s keeping you from booking your Alaskan cruise? With our Alaska cruise packing list above, you’ve got all that you need for an exciting trip to America’s last frontier.
Remember, layering is the key to keeping warm! And with our 6 tips when going on a cruise to Alaska, you’re sure to make the most out of your adventurous trip.
Going on a different cruise? Check out our Cruise Packing List here.
Safe travels everyone :)