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Alaska Cruise Vacations What to Pack


So you've booked an Alaska cruise, but you have no idea what to pack. What do you wear in Alaska anyway? Inevitably, when you think of Alaska, you think of natives bundled in fur-lined parkas and teams of dogsleds racing across vast, snowy expanses.

Of course, you'll be going to Alaska in the summer, and while you'll be viewing glaciers (and maybe even taking a dog sled ride across an ice field), you will most likely experience some very pleasant weather too.

Highs in the summertime in coastal Alaska average around 60 degrees (16 Celsius). Inland, it is even warmer, with average highs ranging up into the 70's (mid-20's Celsius).

Fairbanks is Warmer than Anchorage?

Paradoxically, it gets warmer the farther north you go from the coast, so that Fairbanks is often 10 degrees or more warmer than Anchorage during the summer months, the polar opposite of the winter months, during which it is bitter cold in Fairbanks.

So if you are planning to spend any time touring the interior of Alaska before or after your cruise, you might want to pack a pair of shorts (or even a bathing suit -- after all, the cruise ship will most likely have both indoor and outdoor pools).

In addition, you will want to bring some short-sleeved shirts or blouses and, yes, even some sun block. The sun block is good to have if you encounter sunny weather while viewing glaciers, as you will most likely want to spend a good amount of time on your balcony or on an outdoor deck. Bring lip balm too -- you will need it.

Alaska Glacier Cruise Packing Essentials

Almost all Alaska cruises stop in one or more of the major fjords of lower Alaska. The ships stop at some combination of the following: Glacier Bay National Park, Misty Fjords National Monument, Tracy Arm Fjord, and the College Fjords.

These fjords are breathtaking and spectacular, and they are the highlight of the cruise. They also tend to be misty, cool, and rainy, so rain gear is a must. Bring a waterproof windbreaker or rain coat, and pack a hat and gloves.

A pair of thermal underwear can also come in handy for those long periods you will most likely stand on deck, staring in awe at the "calving" glaciers, endless waterfalls, and steep, lush cliffs.

The weather in these fjords can change rapidly, and a misty, cool afternoon can turn warmer and sunny in a few minutes, so dressing in layers is important. Pack at least one warm sweater and maybe another thinner sweater or sweatshirt.

A Passport for Alaska?

Believe it or not, you will need to bring a passport if your cruise either a) begins or ends in Vancouver or b) stops in a Canadian port, such as Victoria. Almost all cruise ships are of foreign registry and thus are required to make at least one stop in a foreign port, so you will most likely need your passport.