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How to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

a large ship in the water

An Alaskan cruise is one of the most exciting journeys you can make. The Inside Passage is an especially popular destination thanks to its stunning scenery and abundant wildlife. Juneau is a main port of call which means a cruise in this region brings the chance to an enjoy exciting and luxurious private excursions with Alaska Luxury Tours. Everything from a private whale-watching boat tour to a hike through the Tongass National Forest with breathaking waterfall and Mendenhall Glacier views is possible. Other popular stops include Skagway, Ketchikan, and Sitka, while some vessels stop at Petersburg, Wrangell, Haines, or the Icy Strait.

But no matter where you plan to visit, one of the first questions you’re bound to ask is, “What’s the weather like?” soon followed by “What to pack for an Alaskan cruise?”

The Weather

We’ll start with the weather. The good news is that you aren’t going to be encountering Arctic conditions here, in fact, occasionally the weather is suitable for T-shirts and shorts. That said, most of the time you’re on the ship you’ll probably want to wear long sleeves and pants due to the cool wind. Either way, remember that the weather can be unpredicatable. Southeast Alaska does have a temperate climate, however. In fact, in Juneau, summer temperatures average in the low 60s but it’s not unheard of for the mercury to climb into the 80s, especially in recent years.

Odds are, you will encounter some rain during your Alaska cruise. After all, there’s a reason everything is so lush and green! August through October sees the most rain but there’s a decent amount in July with an average of 4.14 inches in Juneau. Spring brings the least rain, ranging from 2.96 in April to 3.36 inches in June.

What to Pack

They say there’s no bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. So, to help ensure the best possible experience no matter what the weather, follow these tips to learn how to pack for an Alaskan cruise.

The basic clothing list:

  • Various short- and long-sleeve shirts, ideally at one made with Merino wool
  • Fleece jacket or hoodie
  • Sweaters
  • Waterproof hiking pants
  • Fleece-lined stretch pants
  • Rainjacket with a hood
  • Warm beanie
  • Baseball-style hat
  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Comfortable waterproof walking shoes and/or waterproof hiking boots
  • Flip-flops (for the ship pool or hot tub)
  • Socks (wool and cotton pairs for cooler and warmer days)
  • Bathing suit


a group of people standing in front of a building

You’ll be prepared for any wet weather you might encounter by bringing a waterproof rainjacket with a hood. Many find it best to wear a baseball-style cap and then pull a hood up over it as it will help keep the rain off your face.

There are many companies that offer good rain gear for Alaska. Some of the top brands are Marmot, Patagonia, Outdoor Research, and Mountain Hardwear. But the more important thing no matter what the brand is to be sure it’s high quality so you can stay warm and dry.


A hat is essential no matter what time of year you cruise. It will keep your head warm and protected from any wind while outside on the deck, watching a glacier calve or a humpback whale pass by. Ideally, bring a warm beanie and a baseball-style cap as mentioned to wear under your jacket’s hood when it rains. A portable umbrella can be helpful too. Gloves and scarves can also ensure you stay warm while on deck, and are more likely needed anytime you’re outdoors on an early- or late-season cruise.


a man sitting on the side of a mountain

Packing layers is key to a comfortable Alaskan cruise. That way you’ll be well-prepared for any weather, including both cooler and warmer temperatures.

Bring a variety of short-sleeve and long-sleeve tops as a base. If you’re cruising during the earlier or later part of the season you might want to bring at least one long-sleeve shirt made of Merino wool. Even if you aren’t it can help you stay warm when the ship is cruising and you’re out on the deck. It’s one of those rare fabrics that can generate heat while it dries. When it gets wet, water is adsorbed which means it gets trapped in the porous fibers. Inside those fibers the hydrogen bonds in water break down, creating a chemical reaction that generates heat.

A fleece sweatshirt or hoodie is perfect to put on over your base and followed by a jacket or other outerwear. As summer is mostly sweater weather in Alaska, you’ll probably want at least one.

And, finally, while not part of the standard Alaskan layers, if your ship has a pool, hot tub, or both, you’ll want to bring at least one bathing suit. Having two is a good idea as you’ll have a dry one to wear when the other is wet.


Jeans are fine but keep in mind two things: they take up a lot of room and once they get wet, they can take what seems like forever to dry. Waterproof or at least water-resistant hiking pants are sure to come in handy. Fleece-lined stretch pants underneath can also make a big difference in your comfort level on cold days or any time out on the water in the elements.


Flip-flops are helpful to have for outtings to the ship’s pool or hot tub. Otherwise you’ll primarily want comfortable, waterproof walking shoes or lighter weight, waterproof hiking boots for more adventurous days.

Dressier Clothing

Generally, an Alaska cruise is more about comfort with no need to be formal, although you might want check with your particular cruise line. Some cruises do have a formal dinner night or two, but rarely are gowns or tuxes required. Smart casual is more often the rule such as slacks with a sweater or dressier shirt, and closed-toe shoes.

Other Important Items

  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Bug spray to fend of mosquitos
  • Binoculars
  • Chargers for all electronics
  • A portable charger for when your smartphone battery runs low on an excursion
  • A waterproof backpack or daypack to protect items like your phone or camera during outings
  • Your personal toiletries
  • Prescriptions (always keep important medications in your carry-on and do not check them)

By bringing these items you’ll be well-prepared for an unforgettable Alaska cruise.

cheers aboard the charter

Keep in mind that you can pick up most things in port if you accidentally forget something. Just don’t forget to book an excursion with Alaska Luxury Tours as you’ll miss out on one of the highlights of your time in Juneau!