Ultimate Guide: What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise Adventure

So, you’ve done it: you’ve booked that dream Alaskan cruise! But now you’re thinking, “What do I need to pack?” Well, we’ve got you covered with our Ultimate Guide: What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise Adventure. This is our essential “must have” list for Alaskan sailings based on all of our cruises to The Last Frontier.

We also include a list of general items you should pack for your cruise regardless of destination. Finally we wrap up with our Honorable Mentions… those items that are important, but won’t necessarily apply to everyone.

If we’ve missed anything, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Must Have Items for your Alaska Cruise

HotHands Toe, Hand, and Body Warmer Variety Pack

Ultimate Guide: What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise Adventure

Depending on when you visit Alaska, it can be cold – like really cold. To help you keep warm while trekking up a glacier, or watching wildlife from the open decks, this HotHands variety pack is awesome. This pack comes with warmers for your hands, toes, and body. With each pack lasting between 8-18 hours, you’ll have plenty of heat to keep you going!

Degrees Winter Ear Warmers (ear muffs)

Speaking of keeping you warm, these Degrees Winter Ear Warmers are an essential item in our packing list. In fact, I first discovered these ear muffs in the cold Minnesota winters. Turns out, they’re perfect for Alaska, too!

Winter Gloves – Touch Screen Upgraded

These Trendoux Winter Gloves for Men and Women are an Amazon best-seller with nearly 70,000 sold! I have a pair similar to these that I’ve worn on every Alaska sailing. I love the touch-sensitive material built into these gloves that still allows you to use your cell phone to take the perfect picture. Pair these with the HotHands above, and you’re in great shape keeping warm!

Cruise Tip: You can also get them in a Winter Gloves 2-pack to save yourself some money!

Men’s Packable Lightweight Water-Resistant Puffer Jacket

A learning I had early on about an Alaska cruise: It’s hard to pack all that warm-weather gear and stay under the airline weight limit! That’s why solutions like this Lightweight Water-Resistant Puffer Jacket are ingenious. With a STRONG 4.5 star rating across nearly 30k reviews, you’ll be glad you snagged this. Plus, it comes in nearly two dozen colors to suit any style.

Women’s Packable Insulated Puffer Jacket

Of course, if we include a Men’s Jacket, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got all the female cruisers in our life covered! This Insulated Puffer Jacket comes in at just 10 ounces, but the reviews confirm that it helps keep the cold out and the warmth in. You can also check out this similar women’s puffer jacket with fantastic reviews that comes in over a dozen colors.

Note: Since we’ve not worn these women’s jackets to confirm for ourselves (lol), we recommend reading through the reviews before you purchase.

Scarf (Men’s | Women’s)

A scarf is really up to your own personal style, however, we’ve included a couple on the list that have fantastic reviews! The Men’s scarf has nearly 3,000 reviews with a 4.6 star rating whereas the women’s winter scarf we feature has over 6,000 reviews and a whopping 4.7 stars! Color, quality, warmth, and size are just some of the positive words used to describe these scarves. When you pack one of these, you’ll know you’re staying warm.

Insulated Socks (3-Pack)

If you can’t tell, we at This Cruise Life like to be WARM when we are on our cruise. That’s why we make sure we’ve packed for head to toe. These insulated socks are great. We like this set because it includes 3-pairs of no-slip socks that are both itch and odor free. The 3-pack is a much better deal than just buying a pair by itself. If you don’t have laundry on your next sailing, consider picking up a couple 3-pack sets.

Small Pocket Binoculars

We made the mistake of not purchasing binoculars before our first Alaskan cruise. Guess what? The cruise line will GLADLY sell you a pair at 3-4x the cost of what you would spend pre-cruise (an expensive lesson learned)! That’s why we recommend everyone pick up a pair of binoculars prior to sailing. While you can find fancier ones, these are the perfect size for packing and shore excursions – and you’ll get them at a much better price than you would on the cruise ship. With over 11,000 reviews, these things are popular!

2 Pack Windproof Travel Umbrella

You never know what kind weather you’ll face when visiting beautiful Alaska. Because of that, we ALWAYS recommend packing travel umbrellas. You don’t want to miss humpback whales or bald eagles because it’s raining. While there are much larger umbrellas out there, we really like these due to their small, packable size. Plus, since they come in a 2-pack, you and your travel companion don’t have to fight over who stays dry. With almost 7,000 reviews, and tremendous ratings, these won’t let you down.

Waterproof Dry Bag

If you’ve watched any of our shopping videos, you know that we love our Dveda Water-Resistant Backpack. However, that bag is water-resistant and not waterproof. For Alaska, we actually recommend a Waterproof Dry Bag. This is especially critical for those planning to go whale watching or exploring wildlife on the water. While the water-resistant backpack should be enough in most situations, the Waterproof Dry Bag will keep all of your electronics and important papers dry in even the worst conditions.

Lightweight Rain Poncho

In the event that your itinerary does have rain in the forecast, you’ll want to pack a poncho, something that you can quickly slip on and off without hassle, and while keeping you cool. Humidity levels will be high and the last thing you want to do is fumble around for a jacket to put on, or even carry around the port with you. This poncho is sold in a set of 5 and comes in a variety of colors.

Don’t forget the other essentials!

Just because Alaska isn’t the Caribbean, doesn’t mean you won’t need many of the cruise essentials we call out on our main travel page. Examples not to forget:

  • Sunglasses – depending on the time of year, Alaska might be the most sun you’ll ever see. I love these Woodies Sunglasses for Men and Women (you’ve probably seen me wearing them in videos and in photos). You can also get a similar style called WOODONLY at usually a much lower price point.
  • Sunscreen – yes, you can get a sunburn in Alaska! When you’re packing your Woodies Sunglasses, please don’t forget to also pack the sunscreen. You can find everything from SPF-4 to 100+ via the link at a range of price points.
  • Portable Compact Charger – you’ll be taking lots of photos and videos; you don’t want to miss the perfect shot because your device died. This compact charger will fit in your pocket or your backpack. If you’re an iPhone user, we LOVE our new MagSafe Power Bank Battery Pack and MagSafe Phone Case (just make sure you buy the right case for your phone).
  • Sandals – just because you aren’t going out into port in them, doesn’t mean you won’t still need them on the ship (spa, around the stateroom, indoor pool area, etc.). If you’re looking for a new, inexpensive pair with arch support, check out these KuaiLu Yoga Mat Leather Flip Flops.
  • Swimwear – speaking of the pool area… you won’t want to miss the hot tubs on deck. The heat of the tub keeps you warm, but only if you’re prepared. Don’t forget your favorite trunks or swimwear.
  • Cruise Ship Approved Power Strip / Outlet Splitter – Cruise ships are notorious for not having enough outlets to charge our phones, watches, cameras, sound machines, and all of the other tech that runs our life. That’s why a cruise-approved outlet splitter is ESSENTIAL. Trust us on this one.
  • Magnetic Wall Hooks – with all of the additional gear you pack for Alaska, these might be even more important to keep organized!
  • Over-the-door hanging organizer – in addition to the magnetic wall hooks, this over-the-door hanging organizer makes a HUGE difference in a small stateroom, especially with all of the additional items you’ll be packing (gloves, scarf, binoculars, etc.)
  • Flexible Cell Phone Tripod – with everything there is to see in Alaska, we’ve used this very tripod on deck or our balcony to capture time-lapse video of glaciers, sail-away footage, and even in hopes of a whale sighting
  • Portable Water Bottle and Carabiner Clips – we always bring a reusable water bottle that we use both on ship and in port to stay hydrated. The Carabiner Clips allow us to clip it to our backpack or hang it on a hook to keep it out of the way when not in use.
  • Seasick Anti-Nausea Acupressure Wristbands – While we’ve experienced mostly perfect seas in Alaska, we know that the water can be a bit rough as you sail through the various climates. If you, or anyone in your party is prone to seasickness, we recommend these Acupressure Wristbands. They’re the only item on this list that has been with us since the very beginning – and on every single cruise we’ve ever taken. Don’t forget the kid’s version if traveling with little ones.
  • Portable Sound Machine – whether you’re traveling with someone that makes noise at night (e.g., snores!) or you just want to drown out the various noises from the ship, this portable white noise machine is a must. We take this EVERY time we travel, not just on cruises. Plus, it’s got a built-in night light and timer.
  • Cruise Luggage Tag Holders – these luggage tag holders have been on our “essential” list for years. They come in 4- and 8-packs. Depending on how many people you’re cruising with, the 8-pack is likely the better deal
  • Lysol Disinfecting Wipes – we recommend these on EVERY cruise, but keeping things disinfected in the cold of Alaska is even more important (IMO)
  • Purell Hand Sanitizer – speaking of killing those cruise ship germs, we also recommend packing more hand sanitizer than you normally would on a cruise. This 8-pack of Purell travel size sanitizers are perfect for a family traveling together
  • Travel Hamper for Dirty Clothes – When you dress in layers, you tend to sweat a bit more – and your clothes can become a bit smelly. Unless you have the fancy laundry service on board, we think you’ll appreciate our recommendation on this easy to pack travel hamper for your dirty clothes
  • RFID Blocking Passport Wallet – This was one of our early investments when packing for a cruise. It keeps your passport and other essential documents together in one spot. Plus it’s got built-in RFID to block the bad guys stealing your information.

Honorable Mentions…

This section is where we’ve placed our “Honorable Mentions” – items that you might deem essential depending on what your plans include on your Alaskan cruise and/or your own personal style.

Long Johns Thermal Underwear (Men’s | Women’s)

Long underwear have come a LONG way from when I was a kid. I remember my grandpa always wore his Long Johns and they were… not very stylish. This new generation of Long Johns Thermal Underwear not only look great, they do a great job keeping you warm – which is what matters most. With almost 100,000 reviews combined, the Men’s and Women’s Long Johns have almost a near-perfect rating.

Hiking Trekking Poles – 2-Pack

While these aren’t essential for everyone on an Alaskan cruise, if you have plans to be active, hike, explore a glacier, etc. – these hiking poles actually come in really handy. This specific item comes in a 2-pack which helps save some money. Plus, they have a tremendous rating with over 6,000 reviews.

Hiking Boots (Men’s | Women’s)

If you do plan to do hikes and glacier exploration, you’ll want to make sure you have a pair of Waterproof Hiking Boots. Now these things aren’t going to be the sexiest thing in your wardrobe, but they will keep you dry and warm. They’re also designed to grip all terrain. The men’s pair has nearly 14k reviews, whereas the women’s hiking books have nearly 30k reviews and one of the highest ratings on Amazon.

Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats

Not everyone wants to purchase a new pair of shoes/boots just for a cruise; I get that. It’s why I’m also including these Yaktrax Traction Cleats. We used these all the time during harsh Minnesota winters and we can’t recommend them enough. They make the Honorable Mentions… list due to the fact that not everyone is going to be hiking or exploring a glacier. But if you do have plans to get out to see the Alaskan terrain, either hiking books or these Yaktrax are for you.

Beanie Winter Hat

We put this one in Honorable Mentions… because we love the Ear Warmers so much. But, if you’d rather a winter hat, this 3-pack of beanies has your entire stateroom covered for a very reasonable price. Which ever you choose, make sure you keep your ears and head warm in Alaska for the best experience.

2 Pack Alaska Cruise Door Decoration Magnets

Ok, so these aren’t actually Alaska “essentials,” but you have to admit they add a bit of fun and whimsy to your stateroom door! We’ve seen some really amazing door decorations on our Alaskan sailings and now we know where people got them. This 2-pack is especially great if you book multiple staterooms as you can share with your travel companions.