What to Wear on an Alaskan Cruise
Not sure what to pack for your Alaskan Cruise?
Everywhere you look, you’re told to “wear layers” for your Alaskan Cruise. But what layers… how many… and WHY? All the mixed advice out there can make it difficult trying to figure out what to wear on an Alaskan Cruise.
When we recently took a 7-day Alaskan Cruise, the weather ranged everywhere from freezing our butts off, to 88 degrees and sunny. No wonder it’s hard to decide what to pack for an Alaskan Cruise!
My complete guide of what to wear on your Alaskan Cruise will make planning your cruise so much easier. So you can concentrate on what excursions to do and how much food you plan to eat!
Our 7-Day Alaskan Cruise on the Ruby Princess looked a little like this:
- Day 1: Seattle
- Day 2: At Sea
- Day 3: Ketchikan
- Day 4: Juneau
- Day 5: Skagway
- Day 6: At Sea
- Day 7: At sea and Victoria
So you’re looking at about 2 and half days at sea, and 3 full days of excursions. Even those two can vary quite a bit on your Alaskan Cruise.
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What’s the Weather Like on an Alaskan Cruise?
We started our Alaskan Cruise with 88 degrees and sunny in Seattle and spent the day lounging by the pool with drinks in our bathing suits. The next day at sea, we froze! So we ended up bundled up the whole day.
TIP: Don’t forget your bathing suits! It can be warm your first day, plus there are plenty of hot tubs to relax in after a full day hiking around Alaska! This cover-up was perfect for my cruise! It still looks cute and kept me warm enough to get from the hot tub to my room. Even appropriate enough to wear to the buffet.
Our day in Skagway was also in the mid
Excursions on your Alaskan Cruise can vary a great deal too. Some popular examples of Alaskan Cruise Excursions can include:
- Dog Sledding
- Helicopter Tours
- Boat Rides
And SO much more!
Is this your first time on a cruise? Don’t miss my great Tips for First-Time Cruisers: Things You Need to Know Before Your First Cruise!
What to Wear on Your Days at Sea on an Alaskan Cruise
If you board out of Seattle, it’s impossible to say what the weather will be like. Seattle can be cold and rainy or warm and sunny. You may not know until a few days before travel. Either way, definitely plan to bring a bathing suit.
Skip the colorful bikinis, just a good one-piece or something comfortable is fine. You’ll mostly be using it for the hot tubs on the rest of the trip, not to sunbathe in. Oh, and a pair of slip-resistant flip flops… you’ll thank me later!
This cover-up was perfect for my cruise! It still looks cute and kept me warm enough to get from the hot tub to my room. Even appropriate enough to wear to the buffet.
During the Day at Sea
As soon as your ship heads out to sea, it gets colder and colder. Our first day at sea, we woke up and were FREEZING. I put multiple layers on to go to the buffet for breakfast.
So pack lots of comfortable and warm clothing for the days you are at sea. Everything you do on the ship can be very casual. I brought a good pair of fleece-lined leggings and some casual joggers and pretty much lived in those while I was on the cruise.
The fleece-lined leggings are also great to have on hand to layer under jeans and other pants for extra warmth.
I also recommend having some tee shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and hooded sweatshirts for walking around the ship during the day. I practically lived in this North Face Pullover when we were on the ship. It comes in a bunch of different colors too!
What to Wear at Night while at Sea
Nighttime on the ship falls into 2 categories, formal night and non-formal nights. You typically have 2 formal nights while on a 7-day cruise. Formal nights are pretty basic. No jeans or gym shoes, no shorts.
TIP: You are NOT required to participate in the formal night. Formal night is limited to the dining rooms and restaurants but you can still eat at the buffet if you don’t feel like getting dressed up.
A simple black wrap dress is perfect for formal night, or even a Black Jumpsuit would look great and can be layered with any jacket or sweater. You can even go with a nice pair of black jeans and heels with a dressy top. I love traveling with these simple black heels because they go with everything from dresses to dress pants to jeans.
(Here is another great option for a great black wrap dress for any occasion)
This top was easy to pair with jeans for a casual day look or black pants for a night time look.
I loved this long-sleeved top that was both super soft and warm and stylish. It paired great with black jeans and heels.
Every other night at sea is the same. Think business casual (no jeans or sandals) for the dining rooms, but anything goes for the buffet. We ate at the buffet for dinner one night simply because we were too tired from our excursions to get out of our sweat pants!
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What to Wear for Excursions on an Alaskan Cruise
Your Alaskan Cruise Excursions are really where it gets tricky. You want to be well prepared because you can’t just run back to your room to change clothes like you can while you are on the ship.
This is why I recommend bringing a small backpack on all your excursions. Not only for snacks and souvenirs but for any layers you may need to take off.
Traveling in Alaska is all about comfort. You are going to be out and exploring so make sure your outfit fits your day planned. But… it’s totally ok to look cute too! Here are some of my suggestions that work for both!
For the more active days, I bought these Columbia Trail Pants and they were one of my BEST BUYS. They are super comfy, flexible, and wind and water-resistant. They also come in dozens of colors.
Otherwise, try to pack just a few each of the following basic layering pieces:
- Tee shirts
- Flannel shirts
- Sweatshirts or hoodies
My day in Skagway started with a short-sleeved tee-shirt, flannel shirt, and light jacket. By the end of the day, I was just in the tee-shirt!
Alaskan Cruise Outerwear
Outerwear was where I really struggled and was unsure of what to pack. I didn’t want to be caught freezing my butt off if it was cold out. But then again, I only had so much room in my suitcase and outerwear takes up a lot of space!
Fortunately, I made the perfect choices for my Alaskan Cruise when it came to outerwear and I recommend you bring these selected items on your cruise too…
A light jacket – I found this great jacket from the North Face and LOVED it. It was perfect for the cruise and perfect for any other travel I do that involves cold weather. It’s light and form-fitting and super comfortable.
It’s also wind and water-resistant and even though it looks thin, it’s insulated so you stay pretty warm without needing a super big winter coat.
A Rain Coat – Believe it or not, the places you visit on your Alaskan Cruise is actually a rain forest. So it can be very wet and rainy. You may also visit waterfalls and a light rain jacket comes in very handy!
This great foldable rain jacket was great for traveling since it folds up to almost nothing. It’s easy to pack and even easy to carry around in your backpack on any excursion. It also fits nicely over any other sweater or light jacket.
A Winter Coat – Even though our weather was pretty nice and sunny most of the time. I’m still really glad I had a good winter coat. You will definitely need one if you plan to do any excursions that involve glaciers or snow in any way.
I purchased this winter coat and it was SUPER warm. But if you are traveling on a budget, try this more affordable version.
The days you are at sea are COLD! I often wore my winter coat just sitting on my balcony. But mostly, you will need it for the morning your ship sails around glaciers (the morning of your Juneau port day). Being up on deck while glacier viewing was the coldest part of our whole trip.
Alaskan Cruise Footwear
Ok, so when I travel, I tend to bring a lot of shoes. Almost one for each outfit. But you really won’t need that in Alaska. I totally understand the desire to want to look cute but still have functional clothes for your trip.
In order to minimize the amount of footwear you pack in your suitcase, but still, bring exactly what you need (and want!) this is what I recommend:
One pair of heels – I brought these black heels because they go with everything. I wore them with my dresses for formal night and they even look great with jeans or black pants for the non-formal nights for dinner. This one pair was all I needed!
One pair of casual walking shoes – I own a basic pair of black and white Nikes and they usually go with me on any trip. These are great for airports, and even walking around the ship with your joggers and a hooded sweatshirt.
Hiking Shoes – Because we decided to go on a hike in Ketchikan, I wanted a good pair of hiking shoes that were also comfortable enough to walk around town in. These great hiking shoes are light, comfy, and even water-resistant. Perfect for hiking or just exploring the towns of Alaska.
Boots – I packed a red pair of Hunter Boots and was SO GLAD I did! Hunter boots are well worth the price. They have great tread on them, making them easy to hike and climb. They are also fully waterproof (I splashed around a waterfall in Juneau with them) and they are actually very comfortable. Not to mention SUPER cute!
TIP: Pair your Hunter Boots with some wool socks and you have the warmest and driest boots you could ever need.
Snow Boots – I do think Hunter Boots could have gotten me through rain or snow, but if you are doing a true glacier expedition or excursion, then you might want to consider bringing a pair of snow boots. I never ended up needing mine, but you might if your excursion calls for it.
I really love these Sorel Boots… they are comfy and I love the style with the fake fur and colors they come in!
Don’t forget the accessories!
Bringing a good baseball cap helps with keeping hair under control on super windy days (aka every day at sea!) and with those light drizzle days.
Don’t forget to pack a pair of gloves, you will need some for sure! These smartphone gloves are a great way to keep your hands warm and still be able to take photos with your phone or camera.
Otherwise, maybe a scarf would be a good idea. Or a knitted hat or two.
Being prepared for your Alaskan Cruise
Going on a cruise can be
But hopefully, this
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Enjoy your cruise!
P.S. – Be extra prepared with my list of 25 Essentials you NEED to Pack for a Cruise.