Getting ready for a cruise to Alaska is just about as unique as the vacation itself. What you’ll want to pack is different from what you would take to most destinations, like those in the Caribbean, Asia and the Mediterranean. The Last Frontier’s northerly position and varied geography—from mountains and oceans to glaciers and fjords—can make for many different weather conditions in one trip. So, where should you begin when it comes to packing for Alaska? Experienced Royal Caribbean crew members and travelers shared their best tips.
Here are the six top tips, straight from the insiders:
1. Pack Lots of Thin Layers
A trick to packing for Alaska is bringing items that serve more than one purpose and lots of thin layers. This saves room in your suitcase and means you’ll have more flexibility. When you dress in thin layers, you can peel a layer off or put one on as the weather changes throughout your vacation.
Start with a comfortable layer, like a lightweight, short-sleeved shirt. Add a hoodie, cardigan or fleece for warmth, and top it off with a coat or jacket. If you get hot, you can shed whatever you need to make yourself more comfortable.
2. Bring an All-Weather Jacket
A waterproof, breathable jacket trumps a simple windbreaker. It doesn’t need to be heavy or even lined (thanks to all your layers). However, you will want to bring a jacket that keeps out the damp. Since wet clothes take time to dry, this will help you stay comfy at all times.
Pro tip: No matter the temperature outside, get some of the best views from the comfort of North Star on Quantum and Ovation of the Seas. It’s Royal Caribbean’s signature all-glass observation capsule that will take you as high as 300 feet above the ocean.
3. Consider Convertible Pants
Pants that unzip around the knee and convert to shorts might seem unnecessary, but trust us, their practicality is undeniable—they’re twofers! They’ll ensure you’re ready for both a dry, sunny hike and a chilly, misty dog sledding adventure. Ideally, get a pair made of breathable, wicking material.
Pro tip: If adventures like whale watching and kayaking pique your interest, a Royal Caribbean cruise offers them in spades. Take your pick from a lineup of shore excursions and Cruisetours—guided, land-based adventures you can take before or after your cruise—which can include helicopter tours, scenic rides on a glass-domed train, glacier walks and more.
4. Skip the Umbrella
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. A hood takes up far less space than an umbrella, which means more room for your gear and adventure essentials.
5. Pack Two Pairs of Closed-Toed, Comfortable Shoes
Comfortable walking shoes with good traction will be your best friends. Depending on the adventure level of your shore excursions and Cruisetours, you may also want to bring a pair of sturdy, lightweight hiking shoes that are waterproof (skip packing bulky rain boots). Two pairs are better than one in this case—especially if you’ve planned several days of exploring.
Pro tip: Whale watching in Juneau is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and there’s an environmentally friendly way of doing it, too. It’s on one of the many GTSC-certified—meaning sustainably operated—excursions offered by Royal Caribbean.
6. Remember Your Accessories
Bring a lightweight knit hat, gloves and scarf for the cooler days, and pack high-quality socks made of wool or fleece to keep your feet warm and dry. These are small items that make a big difference in keeping you comfortable.
Royal Caribbean visits the Land of the Midnight Sun every summer, one of the best times to visit. Grab every member of your family because a cruise is an unforgettable vacation for all ages, especially in Alaska. Just choose from Ovation, Quantum, Radiance and Brilliance of the Seas, which all depart from Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia; or Seward, Alaska.
Ready to discover Alaska? Head here to see which cruises will take you there.