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How Should I Pack for Alaska

Extra days in Vancouver / SkyTrain Information

The experts at Holland America Line, the largest and most experienced Alaska travel company, have some tips on packing when you’re headed north on a cruise or Land+Sea Journey.
Southeast Alaska
On an Inside Passage cruise you will be traveling along the protected waterways of Southeast Alaska, also known as “the Panhandle.” The weather here is temperate, with summertime highs usually between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, climbing occasionally into the 70s and 80s.
North Alaska and the Arctic
If you venture farther north you will find the climate to be drier. Summer temperatures in Fairbanks and other parts of the Interior often reach 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the Arctic, for those traveling to Prudhoe Bay or Nome and Kotzebue, temperatures are cooler, in the 40s and 50s.
General Packing
Alaska is casual, but be prepared to dress for dinners (see Evening Dress below). The best approach is to bring clothes that can be layered: more layers for cooler, windier weather, fewer layers for warm, dry days.
Be sure to also bring:

  • A lightweight, waterproof coat or jacket, as well as a sweater or warm vest for strolling the decks of the ship and for glacier viewing
  • A warm hat and gloves
  • Women may want to bring two or three pairs of washable slacks or jeans (combined with polo shirts, blouses or light sweaters and accessorized with a belt, scarf or jewelry this basic outfit can be worn just about anywhere. Depending on weather and occasion, add a blazer, cardigan or windbreaker jacket)
  • Men may want to add an extra pair of slacks, but they’ll find that the same basic dress theme works for them, too (there is no place in Alaska a man cannot go in a sport coat and slacks. Also, a dark suit is appropriate for dinner on board ship)
  • Sturdy walking shoes for every day use (two pairs are suggested) both leather, to stand up to rain if necessary, and a pair with a good arch support
  • One or two pairs of dress shoes to accompany your dinner outfit

Evening Dress
Evening dress falls into two distinct categories: Gala Attire or Smart Casual. Most evenings, Smart Casual is appropriate and can be defined as slacks and sports shirts or sweater for men and a skirt or trousers and sweater or blouse for women. Shorts, flip-flops, swimwear, distressed jeans and men’s tank tops are best left to daytime and the poolside.


For daytime casual dress, Holland America suggests bringing comfortable relaxed clothing that can be layered easily.  Two evenings are designated as Gala Night and for gentlemen , collared shirts and slacks are required in all fine dining restaurants.For ladies, dressy attire is appropriate, dresses skirts and slacks are all acceptable

However, if you choose not to dine in the main dining room on those evenings, you may dine at the Lido Restaurant and dress casually. 

Shorts, pool/beachwear, distressed jeans and men’s tank tops are best left to the daytime and are not permitted in fine dining restaurants, and Gala Night

Exercise Clothes
If you’re a fitness fan or just like to stroll around the decks be sure to pack your exercise clothes. There are aerobics classes on the ships, treadmills, exercise bikes and other equipment in the fitness center on board each ship. The free Passport to Fitness program has the added fun of a reward at the end of the cruise for participating in onboard activities. Be sure to bring your running or aerobics shoes, swimsuit and a cover-up (for lounging, if not for warming up).
Items You Probably Won’t Need

  • Bulky or winter-weight sweaters or jackets
  • Rain boots and long underwear (outfitters throughout Alaska provide special gear needed for their activities, such as warm “moon boots” for walking on glaciers, waterproof rainwear, boots and life vests for river rafting or sea kayaking)

Don’t Forget To Take

  • Be sure to take toiletries and prescriptions for both medication and eye glasses to aid in replacement in the unlikely event they become misplaced
  • A travel alarm clock (although wake-up calls are offered on all Holland America Line cruises)
  • Binoculars if you enjoy bird watching or would like a closer look at wildlife and glaciers
  • Your camera film is available just about everywhere you will visit

Laundry Service
Holland America Line has laundry service, dry cleaning and pressing service on all ships.