I recently wrote about what to wear on on Alaskan cruise, but then I realized that putting together an Alaska cruise packing list isn’t just about what to wear, it is also what to bring along for the trip.
Even if you are a pro at packing for a Caribbean cruise, an Alaska cruise is a different experience and you may have trouble deciding what to pack. It starts with trading the shorts for rain pants and the sundresses for sweaters. But don’t worry, this packing list includes everything you should need for an Alaskan cruise based on our experience aboard the Norwegian Bliss last summer.
Of course, some of what you pack will depend on which Alaska cruise excursions you choose, and your ports of call. It always pays to check the weather for your ports ahead of time, but the secret is to be prepared and this packing list will help!
The other thing to keep in mind is that the weather in Alaska can vary greatly day-by-day. We cruised in late August, and it was pretty cool, windy, and rainy the entire time. I have a friend that cruised a few weeks earlier and they had some days where it was warm enough to need shorts and t-shirts.
What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise
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What to Pack for the Cabin
Cruise cabins are notoriously small compared to the average hotel room. You don’t want to overpack or you will be tripping over stuff whenever you try to move around the cabin. Luckily, most cruise lines provide adequate cabinets and cubbies to fit clothing for three adults or two adults and two children.
Even if you book a cabin with a balcony, you may not spend a lot of time out there on an Alaskan cruise. Although if you bundle up it can be a great place to watch the icebergs float by when you are sailing through the inner passage.
The trick is really to make the most of the space that you have. It helps to unpack as soon as your luggage arrives and store your suitcases under the bed. If you have extra items or things you won’t need frequently, feel free to leave those in the suitcase under the bed too.
One of the suggestions I took from my friend Kim over on Stuffed Suitcase, was to include an over-the-door shoe organizer. (Note that not every cruise line will allow you to use over-the-door hooks, which is the reason for the next suggestion.) We were able to hang ours near the door, across from the bathroom, on the two coat hooks built into the wall.
This was very helpful in keeping our shoes out of the way. We also used the extra pockets for hats, gloves, and other small items that were easy to misplace but were often needed when running out the door.
Another tip that I got from my friend Sue was to bring along a set of magnetic hooks. Typically either the cabin door or bathroom door is metal and you can use the hooks here. We found these very helpful for hanging up our coats and sweatshirts. Make sure to get strong hooks that can hold a coat and not just slide down the door. Just keep in mind that these can leave marks on the door if you pull on them. You may want to bring along a Magic Eraser to clean those off.
Other essential items to pack for your Alaska cruise cabin include:
- Travel surge protector with USB outlets (I use the Belkin SurgePlus because of its swivel plug and built-in USB ports)
- Magnetic hooks
- Shoe organizer
- Magnetic Post-it notepad (for leaving notes on the door) OR
- Magnetic dry erase board with velcroed marker
- Pen/pencil velcroed to magnet
- Deck of cards and/or card games
- Laundry bag(s)
- Laundry detergent (if you plan to do wash)
- Ziplocs or wet bags
- Travel wrinkle release spray
- Fabric softener sheets (for suitcases to keep them smelling fresh)
- Gel or cling door decorations (to make finding your cabin easier)
- Packing cubes / organizers to keep smaller items like underwear and socks organized in the open cubbies.
What to Pack for the Family
- Cruise documentation including luggage tags
- Excursion documentation/confirmations
- Travel insurance documentation
- Medical insurance documentation
- Lanyards with sleeve for key cards
- Camera & lens (including waterproof case)
- Back up camera batteries & charger
- Extra memory camera memory card
- Smartphones / tablets
- Waterproof phone case or pouch
- Back up power banks
- eReaders or books
- Credit card(s) / ATM card
- Cash (at least $100-200)
- Refillable water bottles (keep in mind that you can’t fill these at the water stations but if you fill a glass, you can keep pouring that in to fill it) and/or insulated coffee mug (to bring coffee to your room or to enjoy on deck)
- Ear plugs / Sleep Buds
- Hats (waterproof is best!)
- Face sun screen
- Day bag(s) / back pack (waterproof is best)
- String bag(s) for carrying stuff around ship
Each cruise line is different but all have limited counter space in the bathrooms. Ours at least had two shelves, but I still worried about items falling off into the toilet or getting wet from the shower. This is one reason why I love this lay-flat toiletry kit for travel.
Most cruise ships will provide hair dryers, just check with your cruise line before you sail. And remember, on an Alaska cruise things are a bit more casual. Usually no formal nights (at least not on Norwegian, this can vary by cruise line) and the dampness will probably mean your hair is going to frizz anyway so why waste time styling it?
Keep in mind that the gift shop is expensive and limited, so bring what you need on board including:
- Dramamine or seasickness medication
- Cold medication
- Upset stomach medication
- Pain reliever
- Probiotics & vitamins
- Essential oils (such as lavender)
- Toothpaste & toothbrushes
- Lip balm
- Hairbrush / comb
- Hair styling products & appliances
- Make up / remover
- Hair bands / pony tail holders
What to Wear on Excursions
Check out my full post on what to wear on an Alaskan cruise (and why) but this will give you a quick overview. The important thing is to dress in layers to prepare for changes in the weather.
- Hiking pants or fleece-lined leggings
- Long sleeve shirt / hiking shirt
- Flannel shirt to layer
- Thin fleece
- Insulated jacket and/or vest
- Waterproof shell and/or rain jacket
- Hiking socks
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Rain pants
- Knit hat
- Thin gloves
- Bug spray
What to Wear at Sea
Days at sea are fairly relaxed and you will want to be comfortable. Adults may want to use the spa or fitness center. Kids may enjoy the kid’s or teen club, lounge, game room, or, maybe it will be nice enough to use the pool or hot tubs.
Just keep in mind that it may take a few hours for your luggage to arrive so if you will want to change right away to enjoy the pool or other areas, be sure to pack what you need in a bag that you can carry on.
- Jeans / leggings / athletic wear
- 2-3 short sleeve shirts
- 3-5 long sleeve shirts
- 1-2 sweaters or sweatshirts
- Socks (bring extra!)
- Gym clothes
- Bathing suit
- Warm cover up or loose clothing to cover up
Dinner & Evening Wear
In the evening, you will want to dress up a little and avoid jeans and sneakers. However, many Alaskan cruises don’t have official formal nights (check with your cruise line on their guidelines.) Also keep in mind that the dining rooms can get chilly and you will need a jacket or wrap to walk around on deck.
- 2-3 pairs of nice pants or skirts
- 5 nicer shirts or sweaters (collared shirts for men, blouses/sweaters for women)
- 1-2 sweaters / wraps / light jackets
- Dress up outfit(s) (optional on many Alaskan cruises)
- Evening bag
If you are traveling to Alaska, don’t forget that rain is very common. Nothing is worse than wet shoes. Ideally you will wear waterproof shoes or hiking boots on excursions but if not, you will definitely want to bring a pair of back up sneakers.
- Sneakers (casual or athletic)
- Waterproof hiking boots or back up sneakers
- Flip flops
- Flats / sandals or dress shoes for men
- Slippers or cozy slipper socks (optional)
If you are having trouble deciding what to wear, I LOVE using the StitchFix personal stylist service. Before every trip I send my stylist a note with where I am going and what pieces I think I will need and she puts together a special box just for my trip.
Download the Printable Alaska Cruise Packing List
Ready to grab your downloadable Alaskan cruise packing list? Print out this printable packing list for Alaska cruise PDF and let’s get ready to pack for your trip to Alaska.