Packing for an Alaskan Cruise

Earlier this month, my family went on a cruise to Alaska. It was awesome. If you missed my recap, you can read it here.

Preparing for an Alaskan cruise is a bit different than other cruises to warmer climates. For one, it is cooler (highs in the 60s to 80s). And second, there is a greater chance of rain (up to a 50% chance in August). So, coming from Texas where the average temperature in August is 96 and the chance of rain is slim, it is a big difference.

Lexie and Jase in the Tracy Arm Fjord. Light jackets here.

The problem I had was trying to figure out how cool (or cold) 60 degrees would feel. And you have to realize that this is the high of the day. It won’t be 60 degrees on your morning excursion. And if that high is while your ship is at sea, you have to take into account that it is windy on the decks and balconies.

To prepare for our trip, I did a lot of research about what to bring. I read dozens of blogs. I made a list and amended it as I read other peoples experiences. I particularly liked the blogs that told you what they packed and then what they didn’t use or wish they had or hadn’t taken. That is what I am going to do here.

The family preparing to go rafting in Juneau. It was such a nice day we didn’t need the jackets or at least Jase and I would have been fine in just our long sleeve shirts. (Sorry no pictures of me. I am the one taking the photos.)

I will say that there are quite a few things that we took that we didn’t use, but if we had had different weather, we would have needed these items. It didn’t rain on our trip but for the few weeks before us, all it did was rain. Excursions were cancelled due to the weather. But for us, everything was nice and sunny.

Our trip was from Tuesday to Tuesday (7 days’ worth of clothes).

My Packing List

6 short sleeve shirts

3 long sleeve shirts (only wore 2 and only for part of the day)

3 pairs of jeans (could have gotten away with 2)

1 bathing suit (Yep, the kids and I went to the pool one day)

8 pair of underwear (brought extra in case I got wet, only used 7)

2 bras

8 socks (brought extra in case I got wet, only used 7)


1 pair of Tennis shoes (& wore one on the plane – took 2 again because of the possibility of rain)

1 pair of heeled sandals (as this is my normal footwear, and yes, I wore them around the ship)

1 pair of black heels (to go with all my evening attire)

2 evening dresses (could have done with 1)

1 black skirt

2 dressy tops (could have done with 1 less but like option of having more night-time attire)

1 casual dress

1 thin blue hoodie (never used)

1 thicker hoodie

1 fleece jacket

1 rain jacket (never used)

1 hat (never used)

Pair of gloves (never used)

The crew aboard the ship. Sweatshirts and light jackets for the brisk wind were all that was needed.

We brought the thicker hoodie and fleece jacket because every website said I would need to layer my clothes. I could have just taken one or the other. Once I had a long sleeve shirt and jacket on, I didn’t need an additional layer.

Hubby’s Packing List

1 pair of shorts (never used but then again he doesn’t wear shorts often. I wore shorts on the plane both times but not on the cruise.)

3 pairs of jeans (again, could have taken 1 less since he wore 1 on the plane too.)

1 pair of dress pants (never used)

2 polo shirts

2 dress shirts (could have done with 1 but he did wear both)

2 ties

1 suit

Dress shoes

1 pair of tennis shoes (and wore 1 pair on the plane)

6 short sleeve shirts (could have taken 5)

2 long sleeve shirts

2 pair dress socks

7 pair of regular socks


Swimsuit (never used)

Baseball hat (never used)

Gloves (never used)

Winter hat (never used)

Rain jacket (never used)

Heavy jacket

Zippered Hoodie (could have let at home)

Pullover hoodie

Other Items

Binoculars (we took 3 pair for the 4 of us – we didn’t use them as often as I thought we might and I think we could have gotten by with 2)

Sunglasses (I had read that you should take polarized sunglasses because the light bouncing off the water and glaciers – we don’t normally wear them so we could have left these at home)

MonoPod (Never used it)

Charging Port for our electronics

Mosquito repellent (never used)

Sunscreen (never used)

Backpack (Used this one on every excursion and love that it can fold up into a small bag)

Camera (a MUST though could have left the kids’ cameras at home. Jase used his iphone and Lexie didn’t seem interested in taking photos but I did use her camera which is waterproof on our river rafting excursion)

Travel Clock (I like having one in the room even though we all had our phones with us)

Toiletries and medicine (we brought what we normally use)

Because of the number of shoes and the bulkiness of packing jeans and jackets for four people, we ended up checking three bags. It was easier than trying to stuff it all into two and then we didn’t have to worry about exceeding the weight limit per bag. There were just a few things I would have left at home but honestly, I would pack many of the same things (because you can’t always expect it not to rain.) Hope this helps someone.

Countdown…one month to our Alaskan cruise

Our Alaskan cruise is just a month away. Finally. This trip has been in the plans for over two years. It is hard to believe it is finally almost here.

The cruise and air fare has been paid for months. Shore excursions have been booked. I’ve spent evenings researching what you need to bring – binoculars, clothing, you name it, and I’ve read up on it. But I don’t feel any more prepared for this trip than I did before.

I think this trip is more intimidating than our last cruise (three years ago) not just because we are flying to our departure port (which limits what we can pack) but that the weather in Alaska in the summer can be so varied. One day, it might be a high of 58 but a few days later the high is in the 80s. And those are the highs. It will be cooler in the mornings/evenings and of course up on deck with the wind blowing.

And then there is the possibility of rain. It seems whenever I check the weather, it shows a chance of rain.

We live in Texas where it doesn’t rain much, and it doesn’t get cold but maybe one month a year. We don’t have gear for this. Our stores don’t carry clothes for these situations. Thankfully, there is the Internet.

Most of the advice I have heard about packing is to plan to dress in layers. And many of the sites feature suggested packing lists; however, the lists always contain things I don’t wear such as yoga pants, sweats, capris. I’ll just replace those with jeans on my list.

To help out those planning their own Alaskan cruise, I do plan to post afterwards what I took and what I wish I had or what I didn’t need.

My goal is to not over pack. But without knowing what we need that is hard. Like do you need a swim suit on an Alaskan cruise? Based on the answers online, it depends on the cruise. Some do have indoor pools or hot tubs. But packing a swim suit means I need shoes to walk to the pool/hot tub and a cover up. With packing space at a minimum, I need to decide if this is something I need to bring.

Since the kids have outgrown all their pants from last winter, I had to go buy them new ones. Thankfully, they were on clearance at the store. Then Jase needed a suit and dress shoes for “formal” nights. And Lexie needed new tennis shoes. Ugh. The thought of packing all this stuff feels overwhelming. I don’t even know how many suitcases I will need. We only took 2 for the whole family on the Caribbean cruise, but those were summer clothes and not jackets and rain coats.  (We each had our own carryon too.)

Somehow, I am sure it will work out. We will get all our necessary supplies to the cruise ship and have a wonderful time. Until then, I have four weeks to figure out how to make that happen.