How to Pack for an Alaska Cruise (2024)

Packing for our Carnival cruise to Alaska proved to be quite the style challenge. My Florida wardrobe doesn’t contain as many cold-weather clothes, and my cold-weather fashion game is asweak as my backhand in tennis. Not to mention that winter clothes take up SO much space, and our suitcases needed to be under 50 pounds for air travel. Plus, I really didn’t know what to expect.

Here’s everything I learned. My hits and misses, and what I wish I would’ve known when packing for an Alaskan cruise.

1. Dinner attire.

On a Carnival cruise, there are two “cruise elegant” nights, which more or less means “co*cktail attire.” So I packed one pair of heels, asimple black pump, and then packed several things that could go with them. I wore #1 and #3 above to “cruise elegant” nights, and the other two to regular dinner nights.

You will see a large range of attire on a cruise, so it’s really up to you as far as how dressed up you’d like to get. I felt more comfortable having a pair of heels, but they aren’t required. My husband brought one pair of dress shoes, which he wore on the two “cruise elegant” nights with dress pants, no jacket or tie. (picture below – unfortunately you can’t see the shoes)

Other nights he went more casual even when I was in heels:

Let’s also talk about being warm during dinner. This tripped me up a bit… did I need a coat to go over my dinner outfits?

The answer was no. I did not need to bring this black wool coat with a faux fur collar with me. It took up a lot of space and provedtobe unnecessary. Inside the ship, the temperature is controlled and you won’t need a jacket to/from or during dinner, or during cruise activities like comedy shows. And when you do go outside, you will want to change into your warmest clothes (see next section).

2. On deck.

When the ship is moving, and especially at night… it is REALLY cold! You will need:

  • A warm coat. I lived in this gray North Face fleece.
  • Shoes with socks to keep your tootsies warm.
  • Gloves and hats.

Not pictured: the hot chocolate and tea you’ll be drinking a lot!

Also… it’s windy.

“Outfit pictures on a cruise be like…”

3. Around the ship.

These outfits are for those in-between moments. Like traveling to and from your cruise, when you’re on deck and it’s warm (when the ship stops moving), you are headed to brunch, or additional outfits to wear for casual dinner nights. I packed a couple dresses, three pairs of jeans (blue, ivory and black) and long-sleeve tops.

4. Off the ship.

What you wear off the ship is going to vary greatly based on two things: the weather, and what you do.

a. Weather: SE Alaska is a rainforest (100 inches per year gets you rainforest status and Juneau gets 300 inches of rain per year!), so I would recommend bringing waterproof shoes and a waterproof jacket. From there, the temperature varies. We had unusually warm (70 degree) and dry weather, but a friend did the same cruise the week after us and it rained and was really cold. So I would recommend being prepared for both and plan on layering to be safe.

b. What you do:

Hiking: I thought it would be cold, so I packed jeans to hike in, but I wished I had brought more yoga pants. I was way too hot in picture #1 (even with my gray jacket off), and in #2 that outfit was never supposed to see the light of day. I saw lots of people hiking in cute yoga pants and wished I had brought mine!

Zip lining: In #3 we went zip lining and we both wore cargo pants, which was perfect.

Sight-seeing: If you plan to sight-see and shop all day, then you can wear cute boots and adorable fall/winter type outfits. We planned to be really active (hiking, fishing, kayaking) which is why I dressed less fashionable and more practical. I spotted some stylish outfits at port though!

5. To workout.

One thing I definitely did not have roomfor in my suitcase was gym shoes. So I wore my hiking sneaks to the gym. In #1, I jogged on the walking track with my binoculars wrapped around me in case we spotted wildlife (they announce it over the loud speaker). And the other two I wore to the gym.

Okay… let’s summarize what I packed. These are all the jackets and shoes I brought, as pictured in my Carnival closet on board.

Jackets (in order as pictured):

  1. A heavy jacket for “elegant attire” night – I recommend skipping this (black wool with faux fur collar)
  2. Light jacket for wearing around the ship (navy lightweight wool)
  3. Light jacket for wearing around the ship (olive army jacket)
  4. One very warm jacket (gray North Face fleece)
  5. Waterproof jacket (yellow North Face)


  1. One pair of flats/something easy to throw on
  2. One pair of heels or dress shoes (simple black pumps)
  3. One pair of hiking boots or athletic shoes (mine, JJ’s)
  4. One pair of flat boots

Everything else

  • Three pairs of jeans – blue, black and ivory for around the ship, and traveling to and from our cruise
  • Various tops – long-sleeve blouses, light sweaters to wear with jeans
  • Casual dresses – dresses to wear with tall boots and/or leggings
  • Clothes for excursions – skinny cargo pants for zip lining, yoga pants or jeans for hiking
  • co*cktail attire – two nights worth of “cruise elegant” outfits
  • Athletic gear – for the gym and/or for hikes

Hiking checklist

  • Backpack
  • Waterproof jacket and shoes
  • Water bottle (bring your own and fill it up on board)
  • Snacks that bears can’t smell (like granola bars)
  • Camera, selfie stick
  • Monopod for camera, also doubles as walking stick
  • Ziplock bags for electronics in case it rains

What items do you pack for an Alaskan cruise? Leave your best tips and tricks in thecomment section below, and check out my general cruise tips and Caribbean packing guide here.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.

How to Pack for an Alaska Cruise (11)

How to Pack for an Alaska Cruise (2024)


How do I not overpack for an Alaskan cruise? ›

You don't need to pack more than two outfits per day for every day of the trip. Even if you plan on doing a variety of activities, you should be able to conserve and reuse clothing at times. It's a good idea to take an item or two just in case, say one extra change of clothes or a jacket for if you get cold.

Can you wear jeans to dinner on an Alaskan cruise? ›

There's no need to be formal – jeans, slacks, casual tops, sweaters, sneakers and boots are all perfect.

Is Alaska cold on a cruise? ›

Alaska Cruise Temperature by Month

Temperatures can reach anywhere from the low 30s to upper 80s depending on your month of travel as well as the port of call. We always recommend that you dress in layers to prepare for whatever weather comes your way.

How much spending money should you take on an Alaskan cruise? ›

A typical Alaska Cruise can cost between $600 and $5,000 per person, depending on the length of your cruise, the type of cruise you choose, and your room choice. We recommend budgeting an additional $1,000 to $1,500 per person for shore excursions to get the most out of your Alaskan cruise.

Which side of the ship is better on a Alaska cruise? ›

Northbound Alaska cruises sail up the coastline through the Inside Passage and along Hubbard Glacier, so your best view of Alaska's scenic landmasses are likely on the starboard side of the ship. Southbound Alaska cruises are the opposite.

How much money should I bring on a 6 day cruise? ›

As a general rule, plan to have $50 to $100 each day in the local currency. Also, you may want to bring an extra $20 a day for tipping crew members. Make sure to include smaller bills for tips. Fifty to a hundred dollars a day should be enough to cover small purchases, tips and snacks at each port.

What is a good amount of cash to bring on a cruise? ›

Most guests bring $50-$120 cash per day to spend during the cruise. You will have many opportunities to purchase duty free goods, take exciting shore excursions, buy local souvenirs, play your chance in the casino, or enjoy some pampering in the spa.

How formal is formal night on an Alaskan cruise? ›

Formal wear: Anticipate two formal nights per week. Ladies wear a co*cktail dress or gown and gentlemen don a suit and tie or tuxedo. Smart-casual wear for dinner: Slacks and collared shirts or sweaters for men. Skirt or trousers, sweater or blouse for women.

What not to wear to dinner on a cruise? ›

At no point is swimwear allowed in any formal dining venue for any meal, including breakfast and lunch. Shorts, flip flops, and tank tops are not allowed for Evening Wear or Gala Night in the Main Dining Rooms, Specialty Restaurants, or MSC Yacht Club. T-shirts are not allowed to be worn for Gala Night.

What is the dress code for an Alaskan cruise? ›

Norwegian ships call for "cruise casual" attire on board during the day. A warm-weather itinerary might include shorts and flip-flops by the pool. However, an Alaska cruise can get chilly, even during the summer. Rather than wearing shorts and sundresses, you might opt for long pants and long-sleeved dresses.

What kind of shoes should I take on an Alaskan cruise? ›

Since rain is so common, the best way to defend your feet is with a comfortable and durable pair of rain boots. They will not only provide protection from the rain but wind and mud as well. A slip-on shoe should not be missed when packing for an Alaskan cruise. These will be great for the days of travel on the cruise.

Is there swimming on an Alaskan cruise? ›

Then again, it's hard to compete with the nature and scenery in Alaska with whales, bald eagles, and glaciers! There's just something about being able to swim while on a cruise, am I right? Good news! Even on the Alaskan cruises, swimming is definitely an option.

Are Alaska cruises bumpy? ›

Alaska Cruises Can Be Bumpy in the Gulf of Alaska

Rough Waters: The majority of sailing on an Alaska cruise is done in the protected waters of the Inside Passage, but ships sailing to Seward, Whittier or Anchorage must cross the Gulf of Alaska, which is much rougher.

How do you pack for a cruise without overpacking? ›

Read on for a few quick tips that can make your cruise packing process simpler, saner and less stressful.
  1. Pick a Palette. ...
  2. Go Two if by Sea. ...
  3. Layer Up. ...
  4. Get a Shoe Clue. ...
  5. Stay Fresh. ...
  6. Accessorize. ...
  7. Be Clever With Carry-Ons. ...
  8. Roll Up.
Oct 2, 2022

What do I wear to dinner on an Alaskan Princess cruise? ›

For more formal settings, men should bring a dinner jacket, slacks, or a dark suit and a nice pair of shoes, while women may want to bring an evening gown, co*cktail dress, or elegant pant suit. When packing, bring wrinkle-free items or try rolling your clothes.

What is the best side of the ship to be on for an Alaska cruise? ›

For example, cruising from Vancouver, B.C., to Whittier, Alaska, northbound, you might prefer a starboard side room to get majestic views of the Canadian and Alaskan coastlines. Southbound cruisers will want to opt for a port-side room for the same views.

How much luggage can you take on an Alaskan cruise? ›

In summary, think of the Cruisetour luggage as the guidelines for air travel. You're allowed to bring one carry-on suitcase (22″ or less) and one personal item (15″ or less). The personal item can stay with you at all times, fitting under a seat while you're in transit on trains and motor coaches.


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