What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise: An Alaska Cruise Packing List - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel (2024)

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Packing for my Alaska cruise was tricky. While I have experience packing for warm destination cruises and an Antarctica expedition cruise, I’m relatively new to cruising and the fact that I needed to pack appropriately for ship life as well as for outdoor adventures in Alaska made it hard to decide what to bring. After all, in my normal day-to-day travel life, I don’t usually have to factor in multiple dressy dinners and whale watching or glacier exploring. In the end, I packed well enough but there are still a few things I wish I had brought with me. So, for those wondering what to wear on an Alaskan cruise, here are my suggestions for an Alaska cruise packing list.

For a full roundup on my thoughts and tips on my Alaska cruise experience check out this post.

What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise: An Alaska Cruise Packing List - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel (1)

Alaska Cruise Packing List Essentials

We got super lucky with the weather for our Alaska cruise. There was no rain and quite a bit of sunshine. Ports reached a high of 20C which felt very warm walking around but sea days on the deck, especially for Glacier Bay, were very chilly and I actually wished I had dressed warmer. For this reason, your best bet when packing for an Alaska cruise is to think layers. That way you can add more or take off as needed. Some specific essentials I suggest include the following:

  • Waterproof shoes: This is my number one my list of what to pack for an Alaska cruise since it can be wet and rainy and depending on your excursions, you might be out on whaling boats, by the water, or just in the rain. I’m a huge fan of Vessi shoes and take mine with me everywhere I go. I have two pairs, the Everyday Move and the Weekend Sneaker. I’ve worn them in the pouring rain, through puddles, and even stepped into rivers and lakes in them and my feet actually stay dry. Plus, I find them supportive and comfortable. Check them out here.
  • A windbreaker/raincoat: Another essential is a windbreaker or a rain jacket. It’s a handy layer to have both onboard and on any excursions. I suggest something with a hood and make sure that it is actually waterproof, not just water resistant! My go-to rain jacket is from Colombia brand.
  • UA Storm Gear Sweaters: Another piece of clothing I love and recommend for any cooler, outdoor adventure activity is the Under Armour storm series gear. I have a couple of hooded sweaters from this collection and they are cozy and water-repellant. It’s not properly waterproof like a rain jacket, but definitely helps keep you dry in damp weather and super easy to layer. Check out the storm series sweatshirts here.

What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise: An Alaska Cruise Packing List - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel (2)

  • Leggings: If you are like me and love being outdoors and choosing adventure-type of activities then a pair of leggings or two are a must for your Alaska cruise. Not only are they comfortable for when you are onboard and just exploring the ship, but they are ideal for shore excursions that involve an activity such as hiking, biking, rappelling, or evening being out on boats whale watching. Most cruise ships also have a gym so they are handy to pack if you plan on using those facilities as well. My favourite leggings are from lululemon and are the Wunder Train.As someone with a smaller waist and larger thighs/hips it can be hard to find leggings that don’t slide down and this style works perfectly for my body shape.
  • A hat and touch screen gloves: When people told me to bring a hat and gloves on my Alaska cruise I laughed. First of all, it’s summer and while summer in Alaska isn’t as warm as many other destinations, it’s not like it’s properly cold. At least not for me, as a Canadian. Well, guess what? As I stood at the bow of the cruise ship through Glacier Bay I really regretted not having any gloves. It was COLD with that glacier wind whipping around us and my fingers were frozen as I tried to take photos. I really wished I had brought a pair of touch-screen gloves to keep my fingers warm and still be able to use my phone and camera. I got this pair for my Antarctica trip and they work pretty well.
  • Base layer: This is another thing I regret not bringing and again, would really recommend it. For the most part, I was warm in my layered sweater and windbreaker but being on the bow of that cruise ship for Glacier Bay was much colder than I had anticipated. Having a base layer thermal top underneath would have made a world of difference. Some people will suggest bringing bigger, warmer jackets but I think that’s a waste of packing space on a summer cruise when you really won’t wear it much. Base layers are thin and easy to pack so if you just wear it the once then it’s ok! If you don’t have a good base layer, check out this one.

What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise: Onboard Life

What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise: An Alaska Cruise Packing List - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel (3)

For those like me who are new to cruising and wondering what to wear onboard, I can tell you from my experience with Holland America Line that overall, things were pretty casual during the day but you will see a mix. We had people running around in athleisure and flipflops while others wore dresses and heels. That being said, everyone fit in. It was more a matter of where you were going and what you were doing.

Mealtime is when things got more specific. There were multiple places to dine onboard including the dining room as well as several paid restaurants. These places tended to be dressier than the casual dining spots by the pool or the cafeteria-style area. Again, people did show up in a mix of outfits but I was more comfortable going in trousers/jeans/sundress rather than leggings and a hoodie.

There were also two ‘dressy’ nights on board for people who wanted to eat in the dining room. On our ship, this meant co*cktail attire. Women wore dress pants and pretty tops or co*cktail dresses. Men wore collared shirts and dress pants. Some of the older couples did really dress up in evening wear; gowns and tuxedos which was lovely to see but definitely not required for our cruise. However, this may vary by ship so check to make sure.

Overall, dress comfortably and as you like but be respectful of your environment.

There are paid laundry facilities available on board but they can be quite pricey. Try to pack what you think you need for the week but also don’t be afraid to re-wear your outfits. I’m a big fan of capsule wardrobes that allow me to pack a few basics that I can mix and match to create multiple outfits. I find brands like encircled really good for this!

PS: Wondering about my favourite curvy-friendly clothing brands for travel? Check out this post.

Alaska Cruise Packing List: Suggested Add-Ons

What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise: An Alaska Cruise Packing List - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel (4)

On top of clothing, there are a few other add-ons that I would suggest for your Alaska Packing Cruise List.

  • Binoculars: If you are really interested in seeing wildlife, then this is a great idea to bring. We saw tons of whales but they were quite far away and binoculars would have come in really handy. I was quite spoiled in Antarctica where they came much closer to the boats and we were able to be on the water in zodiacs with them so I didn’t pack any but ended up regretting it.
  • A zoom lens: If you are into photography, get a decent zoom lens. Mine was 250mm and still didn’t cut it. Again, there was tons of wildlife, but it was pretty far. You don’t have to buy, there are plenty of photography shops that will rent you a lens for the duration of your trip.
  • Cash (USD): Most places in port will take credit cards and everything on the ship is registered to your account which is paid to your card by the end. However, there are some situations in which cash could come in handy. If you do not have an American credit card remember that chances are you will be charged foreign exchange fees (usually 2.5%) by your credit card company. You can look to getting a no forex fee card but another easy way to avoid that is by paying in cash. Additionally, having small bills on hand is handy for tipping the staff. Our ship had daily tips automatically billed to our account but I gave extra for my steward and to room service.
  • A Power Bank: Whether you are out on the ship watching for whales or on shore for an excursion chances are you will be using your phone quite a bit for photos and videos. The last thing you want is for your battery to die! So, bring a power bank and charging cord that you can store in your bag for the day. I love and recommend this one which charges my devices several times before I need to charge it again and can charge multiple devices at once.
  • An adapter: Just because your ship is travelling through North America doesn’t mean the ship itself is North American which might mean it has different plugs. To avoid any unexpected surprises of being unable to charge your electronics, bring an adapter just in case. I love and recommend this universal adapter which allows me to charge several devices at once.

Final Tips for Packing for an Alaska Cruise

What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise: An Alaska Cruise Packing List - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel (5)

Packing for an Alaska cruise doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think. The tips above should help you narrow things down but keep in mind your travel style and comfort as well. One final tip would be regarding your luggage. If you are flying into the starting port and checking your bag, I highly recommend adding anairtag to your suitcase to track it. Also, pack at least a couple of outfits into a carryon just in case. I’ve had airlines lose my luggage before and it’s a nightmare. Cruises move pretty quickly so it might have a tough time catching up to you and it’s best to have a couple of options on hand worst-case scenario.

Ready to Book Your Trip?

Don’t forget travel insurance!

Please do not travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to use it multiple times throughout my travels and it has saved me thousands of dollars. You can learn more about travel insurancehere. If you are looking for a provider I love and recommendSafetyWing. For Canadian readers, take a look atSoNomad.

Book your accommodation

I love and recommendbooking.comfor accommodation. They have a range of hostels, guesthouses, hotels, and resorts. Plus, the platform has a great loyalty program that means the more you book, the more you can save.

Book your tours

My go-to tour provider that I love to recommend isGetYourGuide. They have options all over the world and partner with local companies for everything from day trips to food experiences and even airport transfers.

Get connected

If you want to have data while travelling for online maps or any other needs, an esim is one of the easiest solutions. I’m a big fan of Airalo and have used their sim cards around the world from Brazil to Uzbekistan, Greece to the USA. It’s really easy- you download the app, pick what country you want an esim for, and after you purchase it follow the installation instructions. You can use promo code HANNAH3326 to save $3USD on your next esim purchase.

Not sure what to pack?

I have destination-specific guides for some countries but you can also check mytravel essentialsandcamera gearif you are looking for some ideas.

Looking for a travel buddy?

Check out my group trips!

What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise: An Alaska Cruise Packing List - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel (2024)


Can you wear jeans to dinner on an Alaskan cruise? ›

There's no need to be formal – jeans, slacks, casual tops, sweaters, sneakers and boots are all perfect.

Do you need a swimsuit on an Alaskan cruise? ›

Swimsuit. Bringing a swimsuit on your cruise to Alaska might sound unnecessary, but remember, all of our ships have solariums with heated pools, spas, and hot tubs. Bring at least one swimsuit just in case you feel like taking a dip during your vacation.

How many outfits to pack for 7 night cruise? ›

You should average two outfits per day, as you'll wear one during the day and one at night for dinner. I find that I like to re-wear at least two or three outfits at night to save space. Plus, I just don't like having to plan seven different outfits for each night. This, however, is a personal preference.

Can you wear shorts on Alaskan cruise? ›

Yes, you will be visiting some places where the weather might be chillier than back home, but you will not encounter truly Arctic conditions. Away from the viewing sites of magnificent glaciers and icefields that brought you to Alaska, you might even encounter weather suitable for shorts and T-shirts.

What not to wear to dinner on a cruise? ›

T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps, and pool wear are not allowed in the main restaurant or specialty restaurants at any time. In addition, shorts and flip-flops are not permitted during the evening hours.

What do you wear to dinner on a cruise to Alaska? ›

Cruise Dinner Dress

Ladies wear a co*cktail dress or gown and gentlemen don a suit and tie or tuxedo. Smart-casual wear for dinner: Slacks and collared shirts or sweaters for men.

Are thong bathing suits allowed on cruises? ›

Women can wear a thong or even a g-string at either cruise line's pools. Some might argue the appropriateness of that given the children presentLas Vegas Strip faces a huge problem that could ruin major events but as long as your parts are technically covered, you are not breaking the rules.

Should I take an umbrella on an Alaskan cruise? ›

Yes, rain in some parts of Alaska can be frequent. Still, it's best to leave the umbrella at home. You'll be all set with a hood on your all-weather jacket or a weatherproof hat that can pull double duty by protecting you from the rain and sun.

How much spending money should you take on an Alaskan cruise? ›

A typical Alaska Cruise can cost between $600 and $5,000 per person, depending on the length of your cruise, the type of cruise you choose, and your room choice. We recommend budgeting an additional $1,000 to $1,500 per person for shore excursions to get the most out of your Alaskan cruise.

Do you dress up every night on a cruise? ›

The main thing to remember is that the nighttime dress codes of various cruise lines are merely suggestions; you are not required to follow them, and it is entirely up to you whether or not you desire to dress up every night.

How many pairs of shoes should you take on a cruise? ›

With few exceptions, you need to pack only 4-5 pairs of shoes for your cruise.

What should I wear on my first night cruise? ›

You'd want to look your best for your first cruise night. Men can suit up in that tuxedo, and ladies can glam up wearing evening gowns or pantsuits. Luggage is the first thing vacationers should consider when going onboard a cruise.

What can't you wear on a cruise ship? ›

At dinner, particularly in the main and specialty restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and theater, most cruise lines prefer a dressier look for men, requesting passengers refrain from wearing shorts, sleeveless T-shirts, flip-flops, and baseball caps.

Do you need binoculars on an Alaskan cruise? ›

An Alaska cruise brings endless opportunities to spot wildlife, glaciers, and scenic vistas, making a pair of binoculars essential. That's why investing in high-quality binoculars is a wise choice.

Are the waters rough on an Alaskan cruise? ›

Alaska Cruises Can Be Bumpy in the Gulf of Alaska

Rough Waters: The majority of sailing on an Alaska cruise is done in the protected waters of the Inside Passage, but ships sailing to Seward, Whittier or Anchorage must cross the Gulf of Alaska, which is much rougher.

Can you wear jeans on cruise formal night? ›

Gentlemen: elegant dress pants, shirts, sports jackets as well as suits, ties and tuxedos. Ladies: co*cktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts, blouses and evening gowns. Please no shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, bathing clothes, jeans, cut-off jeans, sportswear and baseball caps.

Can you wear jeans in Alaska? ›

For the most part, jeans and hiking pants (polyester/wool blends) are good for an Alaskan vacation. With jeans, you just want to keep in mind that when cotton gets wet it is no longer warm.

Do people still dress up for dinner on cruise ships? ›

Most cruise lines have relaxed their policies enough so that most travelers will be able to attend a formal night with the clothes they keep in their closet at home—even if it's a simple request for a collared shirt and a prohibition on jeans at dinner.

Can you wear denim on a cruise? ›

The good news is that denim in the form of jeans, jackets, shorts and skirts is generally a perfectly acceptable daytime casual cruise look, often combined with a T-shirt but check before you go for lunch – those designer jeans may cut it for a promenade on deck but some lines don't allow jeans in their restaurants, ...

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