PACKING FOR AN ALASKAN CRUISE;
Be prepared for all types of weather
By Wendy McDonald
The Alaskan cruise season is between mid May and early October. When cruising to Alaska, keep in mind that you need to be prepared for all types of weather including mist, fog, cloud, rain, sleet, snow and of course there is sunshine but it may be limited depending on what time of the season you go. The most sunshine and best weather conditions will be between mid July – mid August; but this is also the most expensive time to go.
The following chart will give you an idea of what kind of weather can be expected at select Alaska destinations between May and October and will help you choose the right clothing to bring along.
Month Avg. Low Avg. High Avg. Precip.
May 38.8 F 54.4 F 0.7 in.
June 47.2 F 61.6 F 1.1 in.
July 51.7 F 65.2 F 1.7 in.
August 49.5 F 63.0 F 2.4 in
September 41.6 F 55.2 F 2.7 in.
October 28.7 F 40.5 F 2.0 in.
May 38.9 F 55.1 F 3.4 in.
June 45.0 F 60.9 F 3.2 in.
July 48.1 F 63.9 F 4.2 in.
August 47.3 F 62.7 F 5.3 in.
September 42.9 F 55.9 F 6.7 in.
October 37.2 F 47.1 F 7.8 in.
May 38.9 F 55.1 F 8.7 in.
June 40.8F 56.4 F 7.3 in
July 50.6 F 65.3 F 7.0 in.
August 51.2 F 65.6 F 9.9 in.
September 46.8 F 60.3 F 10.1 in.
October 40.5 F 52.0 F 7.6 in
May 40.1 F 57.4 F 2.2 in.
June 47.0 F 63.9 F 1.6 in.
July 49.7 F 66.9 F 1.6 in.
August 47.8 F 65.8 F 2.6 in.
September 42.5 F 58.3 F 5.5 in.
October 35.9 F 47.4 F 9.6 in.
In all of the above destinations you will also encounter fog in the mornings during May and mist at dusk during the months of September and October. If the main reason you are going to Alaska is to see the midnight sun, take your cruise as close to summer solstice (June 22nd) as you can.
Cruisers do not need a new wardrobe. Casual clothing such as jeans, khakis or corduroys, sweaters, T-shirts and long sleeved shirts are perfect for daytime exploration. The key is to MIX & MATCH clothing that can be worn several times. You can eliminate over packing by selecting a neutral color and working around it.
Jim West, who has sailed on more than 500 cruises and is the author of The Essential Little Cruise Book, says “People get carried away with shoes.” Bring one pair of outdoor comfortable walking shoes such as running shoes or light hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, one pair of versatile casual shoes and one pair of dress shoes.
Layered outdoor clothing is ideal for all types of weather you may encounter. A polar fleece vest or jacket and an anorak are perfect. Don’t forget a pair of lightweight gloves, a hat or ear band and rainwear. If you don’t have a water proof jacket, the cruise line will hand out large plastic garbage bags that you can use as a makeshift raincoat.
Veteran cruiser, Doris Banks says, “I write down everything that I put into my suitcase. It serves two purposes. First, if I have a lost luggage claim, I can easily tell authorities what was inside and its value. Second, I cruise a lot and like to take along the same clothing every time, so it’s a tried and true checklist I can follow.”
An easy listing is outlined for you. If you want to cut back on clothes, only bring one of each of the following. A self-service launderette is available on most cruise lines and pool towels are provided onboard free of charge. Dry cleaning onboard is available but expensive.
If you forget something at home, the shops onboard have just about everything that you would need from formal wear, casual wear, bathing suits, raincoats, jackets and sunglasses to pharmaceutical sundries.
? WOMEN: 1 cover-up, 1 bathing suit, 2 casual short sleeved tops, 1 long sleeved shirt, 1 pair shorts, 2 sweaters, lightweight jacket, 1 pair comfortable outdoor walking shoes, 2 pair casual pants, 4 pair socks, undergarments, hat, pajamas and lightweight rainwear.
? MEN: 1 nylon bathing suit that can easily be used as shorts, 1 pair casual shorts, 2 pair casual pants, 2 sweaters, 2 long sleeved shirts, 3 T-shirts, 1 golf shirt, 1 casual belt, 6 pair socks, underwear, 1 pair comfortable outdoor walking shoes, lightweight jacket, hat, pajamas and lightweight rainwear.
If you are considering shore excursions such as dog sledding, glacier walking or fishing,
you may also want to bring along long underwear and a heavier jacket; especially if your cruise is during May, September or October as you may encounter winter conditions.
One light packing cruiser I’ve met at sea says that she wears the same dress for formal, informal and casual evenings. “I love cruising but I’m not about to become a clothes horse.” she says. How she changes her great look is by choosing different accessories, shoes and hairstyles.
Evenings fall into three categories: Elegantly casual, informal and formal. These are only guidelines for continuity. An evening gown or tuxedo isn’t mandatory unless you’re on one of the six star cruise lines.
This means no jeans, shorts or T-shirts in the evening.
MEN: casual pants such as something you would wear on a golf course; a golf shirt or long sleeved sports shirt, no tie required and casual shoes
WOMEN: skirt, pants or dress
If you are sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line, disregard the following dress code because their whole concept is ‘freestyle’ cruising which is based on resort casual. Wear what you want when you want with the exception of the shorts and t-shirts in the dining rooms during the evening. They will designate one evening as formal but it is not mandatory to participate. If you like to dress up, bring something dressy.
MEN: lightweight pants and sports jacket with shirt or a light colored suit, tie optional and dress shoes
WOMEN: pant suit, dress, skirt and blouse (something like what you would wear to the office) and dress shoes
MEN: Tuxedo, (If you don't own one you can rent one onboard. It's approximately $90.00 USD for all formal nights for the duration the cruise delivered right to your stateroom.) A Dark suit or dinner jacket and dress pants, tie required and dress shoes; complementary shoeshine service available onboard.
WOMEN: anything with beads or sequences, evening gowns, cocktail dresses, a plain black dress that you can doctor up with jewelry, scarves, or a jacket and dress shoes.
Day’s At Sea Breakdown for Evening Attire:
Length of Cruise Formal Evenings Informal Evenings Elegantly Casual
2 - 4 days 1 1 2
5 - 7 days 2 2 3
8 - 11 days 3 3 4
12 - 14 days 3 5 5
15 - 18 days 4 7 7
What to Pack in Your Carry-On Bag:
? prescription medications in original containers
? motion sickness medication, ginger capsules and/or sea bands
? Immodium and headache medication
? Band-Aids (you never know when you might get a blister on your foot)
? lip balm SPF 15 and all sunscreen/tanning products in a plastic bag, Kleenex
? cosmetics, toiletries, nail clippers and file, tooth paste, tooth brush, comb or brush
? hair conditioner, mouth wash, deodorant, Q-tips, hair spray, gel
? sunglasses, an extra prescription for eyeglasses if you should need to replace a pair
? jewelry (use a jewelry roll)
? camera, 4 films, video camera, video camera cassettes, binoculars, 1 pre-loaded waterproof
? 1 bottled water (for convenience) keep to refill for shore excursions
? travel journal, pen, highlighter pen (for marking activities on the ship’s daily news bulletin)
? pajamas for your pre-cruise night at the hotel and casual clothes and shoes for next day
? a book to read while in transit
Optional Items to Pack in You’re checked Through Luggage:
? evening bag or small handbag, fanny pack or lightweight backpack, cloth shopping bag
? water shoes (for places where there may be a rocky shoreline)
Hope this helps you out.