Packing for an Alaska cruise is much different than packing for other destinations. Given its northerly position and varied geography—from mountains and oceans to glaciers and tundra—you can experience several microclimates in a short amount of time, which can mean extreme temperatures in one place, and mild conditions in the next.
Where, then, do you begin when you start packing? Think layering. The most beautiful time to see Alaska is from May to September, but in order to spot its untouched natural attractions and incomparable wildlife, you’ll be crossing a range of areas. While you’ll want thick sweaters, parkas and boots in higher altitudes, year-round weather for the Inside Passage and the Gulf of Alaska—the state’s most popular areas for cruising—are more temperate than you might imagine. This region is prone to rain, and conditions can change quickly, making versatility the theme of any successful packing job.
Overall, prepare to dress in thin layers you can peel off or put on when conditions change. Start with a comfort layer, like a lightweight, short-sleeve shirt. Add a hoodie, cardigan or fleece for your warmth layer; and top it off with a coat or jacket. If you get hot, you can shed whatever you need to make yourself comfortable. The best part? Thinner layers take up less room in your suitcase.
Here are five more tips, straight from Royal Caribbean insiders:
1. Bring An All-Weather Jacket
A waterproof, breathable jacket is better than a simple nylon windbreaker. It doesn’t have to be heavy, or even lined (the layers will keep you warm)—but you’ll need a jacket that keeps out the damp. Since wet clothes take time to dry, your jacket will ensure you stay dry and comfortable, even with temperature swings.
2. Consider Convertible Pants
Pants that unzip around the knee and convert to shorts might sound unnecessary, but their practicality is undeniable. They’ll ensure you’re ready for both a dry, sunny hike and a chilly, damp dogsled experience. There are several well-known brands that offer stylish versions made of breathable wicking material.
3. Skip The Umbrella
Despite the rain, leave it at home. Instead, make sure there’s a hood on your all-weather jacket, or pack a weatherproof hat that can pull double duty protecting you from the rain and sun. And it’s worth noting that a hood takes up far less space than an umbrella, leaving more room for your gear and adventure essentials.
4. Pack Two Pairs Of Closed-Toe, Comfortable Shoes
You’re eager to explore The Last Frontier, so you’ll need comfortable walking shoes with good traction. Depending on the adventure level of your Royal Caribbean shore excursions and cruisetours, you also might 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 active days.
5. Remember Your Accessories
Bring a lightweight knit hat, gloves and scarf for those cooler days, and pack high-quality socks made of wool or fleece to keep your feet warm and dry. The items are small but can make a huge difference in keeping you comfortable on board and on shore.
Royal Caribbean sails to the Land of the Midnight Sun every summer. These tips will minimize the weight of your suitcase yet maximize your fun. Take a look at Alaska cruise itineraries, and get ready to visit one of the most exhilarating destinations in the world.