Your Alaska Cruise Packing List
Cool, Rainy or Pleasant
We've Gotcha Covered

So, what should your Alaska cruise packing list include? Depending on where you are traveling in this great state the weather does vary a bit. First you’ll need to take a look at the cruise ports and cruise tour destinations you’ll visit.

Whether you plan to cruise the Inside Passage or the Gulf of Alaska route, the majority of your time will be spent in the Southeast panhandle of Alaska. The year-round climate here is more moderate than the rest of the state with weather which tends to be cool and rainy most times of the year. The popular port of Ketchikan receives about 150 inches of precipitation annually.

In general, you can expect daytime temperatures with highs between the 50s and 60s. Alaska’s unpredictable summer weather can be quite pleasant with temperature variations into the 70s or 80s as well.

The driest month of the summer season is June. The busy peak-season of July is the warmest. The most rain occurs in the month of August and usually continues into the month of September. Snow is a remote possibility but on an early spring sailing you may come across anything from icy rain to beautiful sunny skies.

Summer weather in the interior of the state is usually warm and sunny while Southeast Alaska typically receives more rain. Here’s a brief overview of the average temperatures, hours of daylight and precipitation in some of the most-visited cruise ports and cruise tour regions, so you can prepare your Alaska cruise packing list accordingly.

Far North Alaska - Arctic Circle - Prudhoe Bay

Prudhoe Bay May June July August September
Average High/Low 27/16 44/31 54/37 51/36 38/28
Hours of light 23 24 24 19 13
Precipitation .08 .37 .72 .95 .65

Interior Alaska - Fairbanks - Denali National Park

Fairbanks/Denali May June July August September
Average High/Low 61/35 71/47 73/50 67/45 55/34
Hours of light 17 20 21 18 14
Precipitation .60 1.68 1.96 1.95 1.32

Southcentral Alaska

Anchorage May June July August September
Average High/Low 55/39 62/47 65/52 63/49 55/41
Hours of light 17 18 19 17 14
Precipitation .70 1.06 1.70 2.93 2.87

Seward May June July August September
Average High/Low 52/39 59/46 62/50 62/50 56/44
Hours of light 16 18 19 17 14
Precipitation 4.75 2.32 2.24 5.49 10.36

Talkeetna May June July August September
Average High/Low 57/35 65/45 68/50 65/47 55/37
Hours of light 17 18 19 17 14
Precipitation 1.64 2.41 3.24 4.53 4.35

Southeast Alaska

Juneau May June July August September
Average High/Low 56/40 62/46 64/49 63/48 56/44
Hours of light 16 18 19 16 14
Precipitation 3.48 3.36 4.14 5.37 7.54

Skagway May June July August September
Average High/Low 59/40 66/47 68/50 65/49 57/44
Hours of light 16 18 19 16 14
Precipitation 1.38 1.27 1.15 2.33 3.62

Ketchikan May June July August September
Average High/Low 55/42 60/47 64/51 64/52 59/47
Hours of light 16 18 19 16 14
Precipitation 8.70 6.95 6.43 9.14 12.18

Alaska cruise packing list

The key to traveling in Alaska is to dress in layers. You’ll need some warm outerwear and some cool summer wear and above all keep it comfortable and functional. Alaska is very casual. It really comes down to personal choice when deciding what to take and what to leave behind but here’s our Alaska cruise packing list of suggested items we think you should have:

  • A lightweight, waterproof coat or jacket, preferably with a hood: It’s pretty likely you’ll catch some raindrops in Southeast Alaska.
  • Sweaters, fleece pullovers or fleece vest: These are must haves for glacier viewing up close, standing out on the deck during windy days at sea or shore excursions to higher elevations. Pack at least two of these items to take the chill off.
  • Two to four pairs of pants/jeans: Forget about style and concentrate on comfort. Consider the higher number if your plans include lots of active shore excursions. You may get dirty – remember you are in the wilderness.
  • Two pairs of walking shoes: (preferably waterproof) Your basic tennis shoes function most places. If you are a serious hiker, you'll want your hiking boots.
  • A warm hat and gloves: Your ears and fingers will need some protection from the damp environment especially if you plan on spending a lot of time on deck whale-watching. A scarf makes sense too.
  • A sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen: Even though you are far north of the equator you can definitely get sunburn.
  • Long underwear: This is a good idea should you decide to travel in the shoulder months of May or September.
  • A folding umbrella
  • Waterproof pants: For adventure seekers on small ships this is a good idea on Zodiac shore explorations.
  • Binoculars: Indispensible for wildlife viewing.
  • Camera: This is a must, preferably with a telephoto or zoom lens and plenty of digital memory or film.
  • Bug repellant: Though not usually a big issue its best to be prepared so you don’t get irritated.
  • Lotion & lip balm: The wind and fluctuating temperatures can dry your skin out.

You should dress for cruising the same way you would for any resort. There is no need to run out and purchase “cruise wear.” Casual sportswear, including sweatshirts, jeans and jogging suits are the order of the day both at sea and onshore. If your ship has an indoor swimming pool and/or hot tubs your Alaska cruise packing list should include a bathing suit.

In addition to being prepared for the environment there may be some occasions that require semi-formal or formal dress. You’ll want to check with your particular cruise line regarding their policy. On a 7-night cruise there are usually 2 formal evenings with the rest being casual. Onboard the small adventure ships its casual all the time.

The cruise lines generally describe proper dinner attire as:

Formal – Appropriate attire includes evening gowns, dressy pantsuits and cocktail dresses for ladies and tuxedos, slacks with dinner jackets or suits with tie for men.

Informal - During informal nights, dresses or pantsuits for women and jackets (tie optional) for men are standard.

Smart Casual/Country Club Casual – Appropriate attire includes skirts/dresses, slacks and sweaters or blouses for ladies and pants and open-neck shirts for men.

You may wish to use the following services to save on packing and shorten your Alaska cruise packing list:

  • Tuxedo rental service – your tux is delivered right to the ship
  • Dry cleaning and laundry services – may require an additional fee
  • Coin-operated laundry facilities – check your cruise line brochure to see if available

Your Alaska cruise packing list is more involved than packing for other cruises but the extra preparation is well worth it.

Happy packing!

Return from Alaska cruise packing list to family planning vacation guide...