What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise: a Comprehensive List

Majestic Princess at Yakutat Bay.
Majestic Princess at Yakutat Bay.

Alaska is renowned for its pristine and rugged wilderness. From untamed forests to towering icebergs, the state epitomizes a unique and unspoiled beauty that is increasingly rare elsewhere. This distinct charm makes Alaskan cruises exceptionally popular, offering a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, while you're immersing yourself in this remote haven, ensure you pack the essentials!

Being well-prepared is key to getting the most out of your Alaskan adventure. A comprehensive packing list ensures that you’ll be ready for unexpected weather conditions and a variety of activities and opportunities. Whether you’re witnessing the awe-inspiring sight of a glacier calving, exploring unique local ports, or simply enjoying the crisp, fresh air on deck, having the right gear will keep you ready for anything. Don't forget, to access the stunning national parks in Alaska, you'll need a U.S. National Parks Pass, which grants entry and supports the preservation of these incredible natural treasures. So let's dive in; this Alaska cruise packing list will help you have an amazing experience as you set sail for the land of the midnight sun!

Table of Contents

packed suitcase open on the floor next to a map, headphones, laptop and boots
Make sure you have everything you need beforehand.

Why Do You Need a Packing List?

If you’re the kind of person who prefers to toss a handful of items in a duffel bag and then just fill in the gaps once you’re at your destination, it’s worth recognizing that packing for a cruise is unlike preparing for a traditional land-based vacation. Once you’re on the ship, what you brought with you is basically all you get. Sure, cruise ships often feature onboard shops, but the reality of the situation is that limited space can mean limited selections—if you need something other than the bare essentials, you  could be out of luck. Plus, the unique climate and activities of an Alaskan cruise require specific items that might not be available for purchase.

You might find yourself basking in the sun on deck one moment and bundled up against chilly winds the next. Simply put, making sure you have everything you need beforehand will help ensure that your cruise is a memorable and rewarding experience. If you’re not sure what to pack for, Alaska cruise experts suggest focusing on the following areas:

Alaska Cruise Packing List: Clothing

When people think of cruise clothing, they tend to picture swimsuits, Hawaiian shirts, and sandals. These kinds of outfits are perfect for the warm weather of the Caribbean, but do they still make sense when heading into the icy seas up north? Sometimes they do! As mentioned above, you might encounter a lot of sun on your cruise, and having appropriate summer gear can be a good idea. But there will be other times when you want a little more protection between you and the elements. 

You’ll need to be prepared for a range of conditions. Temperatures can range anywhere from 30-80 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the port of call and time of year, so be  sure you’re prepared for both the warmth of the afternoon sun and the gentle touch of the evening sea breeze, by packing the following items:

Short and Long-Sleeve Shirts

Bring a mix of short and long-sleeve shirts to accommodate the changing temperatures. Short-sleeve shirts are great for warmer days or for layering under sweaters and jackets. Long-sleeve shirts provide extra warmth and can be worn alone on cooler days or as a base layer in colder conditions.


A cozy sweater is perfect for layering and adds warmth without being too bulky. They’re also easy to take off and carry with you should the sun come out while you’re out and about.

Lightweight Windbreaker

A lightweight windbreaker is essential for protection against wind and light rain. It’s easy to pack and can be layered over shirts or sweaters for added warmth and weather resistance. This versatile piece is great for excursions and casual days on board.

Warm Waterproof Jacket

For those colder, wetter days, a warm jacket is a must. Make sure to pack something waterproof, as you could need it to keep you dry and insulated while watching glaciers or taking a wildlife tour. Look for one with a hood and insulated lining for maximum coverage and comfort.

Comfortable ActiveWear Pants

It’s best to pack clothing that can serve double duty, and activewear pants are perfect for hiking, excursions, or simply hanging out on the ship. Choose pants that are breathable, quick-drying, and comfortable for all-day activities. Having multiple pairs ensures that you won’t find yourself out of options should something get stained or dirty.

Outdoor Shorts

We want to reiterate: Don’t forget about hot weather gear! While Alaska can be chilly, summer months can still bring warm days. Packing a pair of outdoor shorts gives you the flexibility to enjoy those warmer moments comfortably. They’re also handy for layering over leggings if the weather changes.

Wool or Water-wicking Socks

Good quality socks are crucial for keeping your feet warm and dry. Wool or water-wicking socks help regulate temperature and moisture, making them ideal both for hiking and when the moisture makes it up on deck. Pack several pairs to ensure your feet stay healthy and comfortable.

Waterproof Shoes or Boots

Waterproof shoes or boots are essential for excursions and rainy days. They keep your feet dry and provide good support for walking on uneven terrain. Choose a pair that’s comfortable for long wear and that you can wipe clean of any mud or debris they might pick up.

Slippers or Sandals

After a day of exploring, trading your boots for a pair of comfortable slippers or sandals can be a major relief. They’re great for relaxing in your cabin or for casual wear around the ship. Opt for something lightweight and easy to pack.


Don’t forget your swimsuit! While you may not be swimming at the various Alaskan beaches, most cruise ships have pools, hot tubs, or even saunas. You’ll definitely want one if you have the opportunity to take a heated dip under the dance of the Northern Lights.

Formal Evening Wear

Most Alaskan cruises have at least one formal night, and you might feel out of place showing up in your hiking clothes. Formal dinner nights call for cocktail dresses or gowns for women and tuxedos or suits for men. The number of formal evenings will depend on the length of your cruise. To help determine what to pack for dinner wear, visit our FAQ packing page.

Clothing Accessories

Remember to bring accessories like hats, gloves, sunglasses, and scarves. A warm hat and gloves can be game changers on cold days, while a scarf adds an extra layer of warmth and style. Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are useful for sunny days on deck. And, so you have someplace to put your clothing at day's end, don’t forget the laundry bag!

Photography backpack and camera
Pack all your needed electronic devices.

Alaska Cruise Packing List: Gear and Technology

The experiences you have on your Alaskan cruise might be the kind that only happen once in a lifetime. And although it’s important to take in the moment and freeze those experiences in your mind, sometimes memory needs a little help. 

The right technology gives you the power to immortalize the best moments through photographs and videos. On top of that, you need to make sure that you have all of the accessories and cases to keep your electronic devices powered up, available when you need them, and protected from the elements. And, speaking of the elements, it can be nice to have some appropriate gear when your adventure takes you into the Alaskan wilds. As you prepare for your adventure, consider these essential items:

Cell Phone, Accessories, and a Dry Bag

Your cell phone is a crucial lifeline for staying in touch, navigating ports, and capturing spur-of-the-moment photos. Don’t forget to bring important accessories like chargers, portable power banks, and a waterproof dry bag to protect your phone while exploring.

Digital Camera and Memory Cards

Snapping pictures with your mobile smart device is a great way to save unexpected experiences, but for scenes that deserve a higher-quality reminiscence, a digital camera with extra memory cards allows you to capture crisp photos of Alaska’s stunning landscapes and wildlife. Pack enough storage so you don’t miss out on any photo opportunities.


Eagles, seals, whales, bears—these are only a few of the animals you might catch a glimpse of as you explore. Of course, in most cases you’ll need to keep a respectful distance, and that’s where binoculars come in. Binoculars are invaluable for wildlife viewing and sightseeing from the ship. When you can’t get up close and personal, a good pair of binoculars will enhance your viewing experience and bring distant sights into clear focus.

First-Aid Kit

An Alaskan cruise is a safe and comfortable way to experience the adventure of the northern wilderness, but small accidents can still happen. A simple first-aid kit is a must-have for any trip. Include basics like band-aids, burn cream, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, insect-bite treatment, and any other easy-to-pack first-aid essentials. After all, it’s better to be prepared for minor injuries or illnesses than to be caught without those supplies when you need them.

Collapsible Hiking Poles

If you plan on hiking through rugged terrain, collapsible hiking poles can provide extra stability and support. They’re easy to pack and can make a big difference in comfort and safety during your excursions.

Umbrella or Rain Cover

Alaska enjoys a lot of rainfall. Don’t ruin your adventure by getting soaked to the bone; an umbrella or a rain cover will help you stay dry during unexpected showers. Choose a compact, travel-friendly option that’s easy to carry in your day pack, ensuring you’re prepared for the weather without being weighed down.

bag of toiletries
Remember to bring the basics.

Alaska Cruise Packing List: Bags and Supplies

Some of the most awe-inspiring Alaska shore excursions are the scenic hikes that lead you to lush rainforests,  or scenic snow-capped peaks. Since most of these expeditions can last several hours, it’s always a good idea to bring along some durable packs and essential supplies.

In addition to the things you’ll need as you get to know the pristine Alaskan environment, you should likewise make a note to remember your daily needs. This includes everything from personal medications to the entertainment items you might want to have on hand while lounging in your cabin.


A sturdy backpack is perfect for carrying everything you need during day excursions. Choose one with multiple compartments to keep your items organized and easy to find when you need them. A comfortable, ergonomic design will help you carry your belongings without strain.

Waterproof Bag

A waterproof bag protects your most vulnerable gear from rain and splashes, especially during outdoor adventures. This can be a smaller bag within your backpack or a larger bag for specific excursions.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is always important, but is especially critical when engaging in physical activities. Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up at the ship throughout the day, and make sure you pack it along during excursions.

Insect Repellent

Humans aren’t the only creatures that love Alaska; the area’s natural beauty comes with its share of insects. Keep the bugs at bay during your outdoor activities with a can of insect repellent. Choose a reliable repellent to avoid uncomfortable bites and enjoy your excursions without any distractions.

Sunscreen and Aloe Vera Gel

Even in cooler climates, sun protection is important. The sun’s rays can be deceptively strong, especially when reflected off water and ice. Pack a high-SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburns during your time on deck and onshore. And should those rays get through and leave you feeling fried, aloe vera gel can provide instant relief.

Nausea Medicine

If you’re prone to motion sickness, nausea-relief medicine is one of the most important things to include in your packing list. Even if you’ve never experienced sea sickness before, the Alaskan waters are unpredictable—having medication on hand can save you from discomfort and help you enjoy your trip without the distraction of turning green.

Personal Medication

If you take any prescription medications or over-the-counter medicines, it’s going to be up to you to make sure you have them on your cruise. Bring enough to last the duration of your trip, along with a little extra in case of delays. Keep them someplace accessible. 


With all of the items we’re including on this list, it’s doubly important not to forget about the basics:

  • Undergarments
    Pack enough undergarments to last the trip, with a few extra pairs.
  • Toiletries
    Bring travel-sized toiletries to save space and comply with regulations. This includes items like toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant.
  • Lip Balm
    Protect your lips from drying out in the cold and wind with a good lip balm.
  • Travel Documents
    Ensure you have all necessary travel documents, including your passport, cruise tickets, and any required visas.
  • Wallet and Keys
    Keep your wallet with you, including credit cards, some cash, and any necessary keys.
  • Earplugs
    For a good night’s sleep or to block out noise during travel, earplugs are a handy addition.
  • Entertainment
    Bring a book, games, or devices to keep you (and especially any children you might be traveling with) entertained during downtime. Whether it’s a Kindle, a puzzle book, or a tablet loaded with movies, having something to do during relaxation periods is key.
man standing on the shore over ice in alaska
Plan your packing for your season and activities.

Packing Suggestions for Specific Months and Seasons

Planning your Alaskan cruise according to the season can help you pack more effectively. Each month offers different weather conditions and experiences, meaning that you’re going to want to tailor your packing list accordingly. Here's what to expect and what to prioritize for each month:


May is a wonderful time to start your Alaskan cruise adventure! With fewer crowds and the excitement of spring, you can expect milder weather and the occasional rain shower. Temperatures usually hover in the 50s (°F), so here’s what you’ll want to pack to make the most of your trip:

  • Layered Clothing
    Bring moisture-wicking base layers, cozy fleece sweaters, and a waterproof jacket to handle the changing weather.
  • Waterproof Footwear
    Comfortable waterproof boots and plenty of warm, moisture-wicking socks will keep your feet happy, even on wet days.
  • Hats and Gloves
    A snug beanie and lightweight gloves will help keep you warm on those brisk mornings and evenings.
  • Daypack
    A handy waterproof daypack is perfect for carrying your essentials on excursions, keeping your gear dry and ready to go.


June is the most popular time for Alaskan cruises. With long days providing 18-20 hours of daylight, you’ll have plenty of time to explore. The lower chance of rain means you can enjoy outdoor activities more freely.

  • Polarized Sunglasses
    You will need these to protect your eyes from the long hours of sunlight and glare off the water.
  • Sleep Masks
    The extended daylight can make it challenging to sleep; a good sleep mask will help you get some rest.


July is the warmest month of the summer, making it a great time to enjoy the outdoors. However, with the warmth comes an increased chance of rain, so it’s important to be prepared for both sunshine and showers.

  • Shorts and Short-Sleeves
    Short sleeves and pants are ideal for the warmer days, keeping you comfortable while exploring.
  • Light Rain Jacket
    While it’s warmer, the increased chance of rain means you’ll need a light rain jacket or poncho to stay dry.


August in Alaska is known for being particularly rainy, and temperatures start to drop as summer ends. This month requires that you prioritize your packing around waterproof gear and warmer clothing.

  • Waterproof Gear
    This is a must-have to keep you dry during frequent rain showers. Waterproof jackets, pants, and bags will be your best friends.
  • Sweaters
    As temperatures begin to cool, pack a few warm sweaters to layer under your waterproof jacket or keep you comfortable around the ship.
  • Rainproof Hats
    These will keep your head dry, but make sure they are secure enough to stay on during windy conditions.


As the Alaskan cruise season draws to a close, September sees fewer tourists and offers a chance to experience Alaska with a bit more tranquility. The weather gets colder as well, so it’s important to pack warm, insulated clothing. Additionally, this month offers excellent viewing opportunities due to the animal migration season and the chance to see the northern lights.

  • Heavier Jacket
    A thick jacket is necessary to keep warm during the chillier days and evenings.
  • Wool Sweaters and Water-Wicking Socks
    These items will keep you warm and dry, ensuring comfort throughout your excursions.
  • Warm Gloves
    Warm gloves can keep your hands warm in the colder weather.
  • Binoculars
    With increased wildlife visibility, binoculars are perfect for spotting animals during migration season.

How to Pack for a 7-day Alaska Cruise

Alaskan cruises can last anywhere from five to twenty-two days, but the 7-day cruise is typically the most popular option. When packing for a week-long adventure, try to strike a balance between bringing enough clothing and gear for the variable weather without overpacking. Focus on versatile, layerable pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. Remember to pack essentials for both warm and cold weather, as well as rain gear to handle Alaska's unpredictable conditions.

During the week, you might find yourself stopping at several ports and participating in a variety of activities. This means packing outfits suitable for both casual sightseeing and more active excursions. Given the limited storage space in cruise cabins, packing cubes can help you stay organized while you maximize your luggage space.

Embark on Your Alaskan Cruise Adventure

Alaska is calling. But before you can set off on your adventure, it’s essential to be well-prepared. A well-thought-out Alaska cruise packing list will ensure a smooth and worry-free journey, letting you enjoy your vacation to the fullest and feel like you're on top of the world—right where you’ll be.

Check out our pre-cruise FAQ page to find answers to common questions.

Ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure aboard an Alaska cruise with Princess Cruises? View our available Alaskan cruise bookings today!

You May Also Like

Alaska Cruise Destinations and Cruisetours

See the Great Land’s glaciers, wildlife, and national parks.

Learn More


Sail to almost anyplace you can dream of

Learn More

New To Cruising

First time cruising? Have questions? We have the answers so your first  time will be nothing but smooth sailing.

Learn More