What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise and the Best Ports to See

man on Alaska cruise looking at Columbia Glacier in the Prince William Sound
Columbia Glacier in the Prince William Sound, Alaska

Alaska’s picturesque landscape and natural beauty have made the state a popular destination in recent years—especially for cruising. From its stunning peaks to its unique wildlife life, it certainly is a sight to behold. To see all that Alaska has to offer, many are choosing to explore the northern reaches of the U.S. by sea.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first cruise, we’ve compiled a list of must-have items you should pack for your Alaskan Cruise. 

Alaskan Cruise Packing Tips

Right off the bat you should read and print out our Ultimate Cruise Packing List and use it with the Alaska-specific tips below to straighten out your packing plan.


  • The weather in Alaska can be unpredictable. Obviously, temperatures can get pretty cold there, so you’ll want to pack warm clothes. Bulky clothes can take up room in your luggage so dressing in layers when boarding the ship can help save space.
  • Disposable rain ponchos can fit in a pocket or purse in case of rain showers. Plus, leaving your raincoat at home saves room for souvenirs.
  • For colder days, pack a few sweaters and bring along gloves and a hat just in case.
  • Consider bringing along a few dress clothes. Many cruise lines have formal dining or cocktail events that may have dress code requirements.
  • Many ships feature heated pools. In addition to bringing swim gear (bathing suits, flip flops, cover ups, etc.), take along plastic bags for laundry and wet swimsuits in case you need to pack them up while wet.
  • Comfortable shoes or sneakers are a must, especially if you plan to participate in offboard excursions.

Also read: 7 Amazing Nature Vacations Around the World


  • Souvenirs are fun ways to remember your trip. Leave extra room in your luggage or bring an extra bag for the mementos you purchase along the way.
  • Try to save on space. Rolling clothes rather than folding them minimizes space.
  • To avoid luggage tip overs, balance is key. Packing heavy items like shoes first and placing these items along the suitcase’s spine can balance weight.
  • Lost or delayed baggage can be a hassle. Luckily, our plans include coverage that can help. Be sure to pack medications, important documents, and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case.

Also read: Travel Packing Tips


  • Remember to pack your Policy/Description of Coverage when you purchase travel insurance. That way your insurance details and contact information will be on hand in case you need assistance.
  • Worried about forgotten items? Creating a vacation packing list will help you make sure you don't forget anything.

Other must have items:

  • A camera to share your travel memories with your friends and family back home
  • A pair of binoculars to spot the local wildlife 

Best Time of Year for an Alaskan Cruise

The best time to visit Alaska by sea is from June to August. The longest days of the year occur around June and July and the weather is warmer than usual. If you’re hoping to catch Alaska’s Northern Lights during cruise season, you’ll want to book your vacation around mid-September.

Top Alaska Cruise Itineraries

Most Alaskan cruise lines stop at multiple port cities, giving you an opportunity to connect with local culture. Here are some popular port destinations to choose from:

  • Denali: View the sharp peaks of Denali (formerly Mt. Kinley), the highest mountain peak in North America. Hike through the arctic tundra in Denali National Park or tour the park by bus.
  • Sitka: This national treasure sits just outside of Alaska’s capital city, Juneau. Kids will love to see the sea otters and whales. Classical music fans should attend Sitka Summer Music Festival, which hosts lunch and dinner events through the month of June.
  • Glacier Bay: Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve is home to a number of wildlife and seven tidewater glaciers. Those looking for family vacation ideas should check out boat tours of Sebree Island.
  • Tracy Arm: Known for its rugged landscape, Tracy Arm Fjord has stunning waterfalls and cliffside views. Don’t miss a chance to view the famous harbor seals.
  • Ketchikan: For those looking to explore local culture, Ketchikan is known for its totem poles including a number of parks that house the massive artwork.
  • Haines: Adventure travelers flock to Haines to explore activities like hiking and fishing. The moderate weather combined with gorgeous views make for the perfect spot to kayak. In less than an hour, the ferry can transport you from Haines to nearby Skagway

Preparing for Your Cruise

One of the smartest ways to prepare for your Alaskan cruise is to invest in travel insurance. When it comes to cruising, travel insurance is crucial because many cruise lines offer only basic coverage. If you’re booking a trip far in advance, Trip Cancellation coverage can reimburse you if a certain unexpected event causes you or your traveling companions to cancel your trip. Consider adding travel insurance from a reputable provider, such as Generali Global Assistance. We offer three plans, so you can find one that best fits your needs.  

Alaska made the list of the 10 Most Popular Trips Covered by Travel Insurance. Find out why.

It was fast and easy to purchase the insurance to cover my planned cruise to Alaska.


Travel protection for your Alaskan cruise or any trip