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First Alaskan cruise, clothing tips (end of August)


hyperdrive
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Howdy. This will be our first Alaskan cruise, departing at the end of August. Historically, it looks like the weather has been in the high 50s, low 60s that time of the year.

 

1. Is it best to bring an all around jacket (similar to this) and layer short/long sleeve underneath? I would like to reduce the amount of clothes I need to pack.

 

2. How much do cruise lines typically charge to wash clothes on board? (I am going on Princess)

 

3. Regarding rain, would a poncho be sufficient or is something heavier ideal?

 

Any other packing tips would be welcome and appreciated. Thanks!

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I can't help with helping you pack less as my family brings WAY too much every time (15 cruises in)!!

 

I will say that we enjoyed having our rain jackets. They are Columbia brand and are like windbreakers but water resistant. Loose enough to wear heavier layers underneath if needed. The ponchos seem to be one time use.

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We just returned and I can honestly say that the best money we spent was at a Columbia outlet on Rain Jackets. Make sure you get waterproof and not rain resistent. Our coats also tucked back into a pocket and were quite easy to store. That being said, we also bought cheap $20 rain pants for some of our more adventurous excursions and were glad we did. Since quite a bit of where you are going is a temperate rainforest, there seems to be a steady misting and light rainfall that occurs. My experience in the past with ponchos is that they are hot and wet...unless you completely dry them off, they never are!

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You're definitely into the rainy season, however weather is unpredictable. It might be 70 and sunny, or, 50 and wet/windy. Or both!

Best advice is LAYERS .... a tshirt for every day, a few sweatshirts/hoodys, topped with a hooded waterproof jacket. Carry a daypack for your layers ... if the day heats up you'll have somewhere to put your jacket (and carry your wallet, cameras, binoculars, tickets, snacks, water, etc). Or if the weather turns you'll have your jacket safely tucked away. That's the point of layers; you're always prepared.

For glacier viewing, wear gloves and a hat/scarf/band.

Smart wool socks. Waterproof your sneakers or walking shoes.

I wear jeans primarily, but bring 1 pr khakis and 1 pr shorts.

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I would bring a water proof jacket. We use North Face.

 

Underneath is we use a fleece.

 

We get the type where you can zip in or zip out the fleece.

 

I bring a water proof pants and then other pants.

 

Two types of shoes. If they are water proof or you can water proof them that is a plus.

 

We bring a hat, gloves and scarf.

 

Key is to layer the clothing.

 

Keith

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DH and I are going on a Princess Alaska cruise next month. The only "special" things we purchased for this trip were waterproof rain jackets & waterproof trail running style shoes. We purchased everything from REI.

 

I made sure that the jackets we bought could be used again as spring/fall jackets here in MI. We already have spring/fall jackets, but not waterproof, so I was ok with purchasing them. The shoes we bought are also waterproof, but look like nice trail running tennis shoes that I would wear with jeans, not only on our Alaskan excursions, but also at home.

 

I am planning on bringing a couple lightweight sweaters for layering, but I'm trying to pack as minimally as possible. I don't mind re-wearing things on cruises. I won't know anyone except for my DH. :)

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We have been on many cruises to Alaska, (#10 coming up) and 7 of them have been in September, as will this next one be.

 

The Alaska weather is very unpredictable, no matter what time of year it is. On all but one cruise we've been very lucky and had some real decent weather.

 

Rain gear is a great idea, but I don't think you'll need or want any real heavy duty coats or jackets beyond the rain gear. The only time we've gotten really cold is when we are at the glaciers, and that is usually in the neighborhood of just an hour or two, to a few hours. Layers are good for that time.

 

If you have the chance you might consider going to a sporting goods store before you leave home to get some hand warmers. They last for about 8 hours after being opened. Placed in your pockets, or on other areas of your body they offer a nice little amount of extra warmth. But it's not a necessity - just a little luxury.

 

Gloves are ok, but not a must have. A hat is a great idea, especially if you're like my DH (growing more and more follically challenged) and a scarf (you can find great fur scarves in Alaska) is a great addition.

 

Enjoy!

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I second Hikini's advice. Don't know where you are from but if you are going to invest all sorts of money for clothing and jackets that you may never wear again, don't. A rain poncho is fine if it can be reusable. personally, we went to the dollar store bought a few of those disposable ones and that was that for rain gear. A good waterproof jacket is fine or just a good windbreaker and the rain poncho's.

If you use any 'Under Armour' stuff, they are great for warmth and keeping you dry.

 

As was said, some waterproof shoes are almost a must, but again, you don't have to go out and buy the best. Get a good pair and waterproof them yourself for about 10 bucks.

 

And as been said so many times, layers are the key. Don't need any heavy stuff, well maybe a nice hoodie, but you can buy a nice one while you are there. Since you are going late in the season, there should be some good sales on things about then.

 

Cheers

 

Len

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all the replies/tips.

 

For those recommending waterproof jacket, shoes, and pants, is this mainly for the adventurous excursions or is this also necessary for walking around the ship? We only have a couple excursions booked, a train ride and a walking tour. The rest of the time we plan on just walking around the port and relaxing on the boat. It sounds like layers is the way to go, since the weather is unpredictable. We will be bringing a rain resistant, inner fleeced Northface jacket as my main jacket and use the layers underneath as I need them. I also plan on just bringing athletic shoes, since we are not going on any outdoor/adventurous excursions. Since I live in the SE (US), we don't have many options when shopping for colder weather clothing.

 

Does this sound acceptable? If not, we do have the option of shopping for some clothing in Seattle the day before embarkation.

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Thanks for all the replies/tips.

 

For those recommending waterproof jacket, shoes, and pants, is this mainly for the adventurous excursions or is this also necessary for walking around the ship?

 

For the activities you've described I wouldn't get rain pants. I've lived in Seattle for 30+ yrs and don't own a pair.

If you don't have a waterproof jacket I'd suggest buying a poncho ... they're less then $5 and take no space. I bought a TOTES poncho several yrs ago; it stays in my daypack and goes with me on every tripl If it's raining hard, it also protects my daypack ... along with camera, wallet,binoculars, etc. Plus it comes to the knee so offers a lot of protection. Not good in strong winds tho.

I bought my TOTES at Bartells drugstore in Seattle for $6.

Waterproof your sneakers and buy some smartwool socks.

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A hip-length Gore-Tex lightweight jacket is our best friend on cruises and really all around. It will completely keep out wind and rain and is light enough to fold really small and can accommodate layers. I highly recommend something like that. We got ours a few years ago upon recommendation from someone here on Cruise Critic. I think we paid $75 apiece on sale at Cabela's or someplace like that.

 

You're going to need some warm layers underneath all that on the day you are cruising through the glaciers. But that's obvious, because you're in the middle of water with ICE in it! It's cold! The cruise line we typically sail has stacks and stacks of great warm wool blankets you can use to wrap up in if necessary. It's not only cold out there in the glaciers (Hubbard, Tracy Arm, etc.) but WINDY. Brrr.

 

Because of the extra clothing an Alaskan cruise seems to require, and the desire to NOT overpack OR overweigh our luggage, we use those space bags and just suck out the air. Great for a sweater or sweatshirt that bulks up your luggage space. Do know, however, that whatever cruise line you take, you are SURE to find fleece sweatshirts and the like stacked on tables just waiting for you to buy. Often they'll leave doors open a bit just so passengers can feel how cold it is and RUN to buy something. Those sneaky cruise lines....;)

 

Alaska is the only place we ever bring blue jeans on a cruise. It's just more casual overall, but on formal nights it seems to be business as usual. That's on Celebrity which is the only Alaska cruise line we've done, but on other lines it may be different.

 

Some of your ports could be freezing, and some could be quite warm, it's just a coin toss, so yes, a couple short sleeve, a couple long sleeve, one layer like a sweatshirt or sweater and that all-important weatherproof jacket with hood.

I even bring gloves and a ski head wrap that covers my ears when I'm in Alaska, because I want to be outside as much as possible enjoying every drop.

 

We bring hiking type shoes and wear those pretty much on all the active excursions.

 

We have loyalty status on the cruises we take so we get free laundry benefits but other than that I think pretty much every cruise line offers laundry for a fee, and you can always hand wash some stuff. I hear that some cruise lines have actual laundry rooms, but I've never sailed on one that does and I wouldn't spend my vacation doing laundry anyway.

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Definitely layers.

For dinners on board ship you can minimize by wearing the same bottoms multiple times. I bring a pair of Chico's Traveler's pants and a skirt and change up the tops and add jewelry, scarves, etc. That will save room.

Every cruise (and land vacation) I get better and better about not taking so many things "just because I might need them." It's hard, particularly when it comes to shoes. I'm better about those too. Just not as good as I should be :D

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Howdy. This will be our first Alaskan cruise, departing at the end of August. Historically, it looks like the weather has been in the high 50s, low 60s that time of the year.

 

1. Is it best to bring an all around jacket (similar to this) and layer short/long sleeve underneath? I would like to reduce the amount of clothes I need to pack.

 

LAYER, LAYER, LAYER. I have been to Alaska in November and just wore a shirt, a sweater, and a fleece jacket. When you're walking around the towns you will be heating yourself up. I go to Alaska every year and have never needed much more than this. If you need more, all the towns have great stores you can usually pick up an extra jacket in some nice ones for $20. the chilliest I have been was at the glaciers and you just stay out for awhile and go in warm up and then go back out again. Some ships do have nice warm fuzzy blankets to use on deck. Rain is a hit and miss. I have a poncho, but only used it once. I have gotten wet a couple times, but I did not melt or get sick.

 

2. How much do cruise lines typically charge to wash clothes on board? (I am going on Princess)

 

Most Princess boats have a self serve laundry located on every other floor except the busy floors (casino, dining, stores). Bring lots of change and and a book. Be patient you may have to wait for someone else to get done. And yes people do get bossy and rude and claim dibs on a machine. Loved it once when somebody did that to me and I said that's okay I would use this other one. Well, the one they claimed dibs on broke and I just grinned and went right on ahead with my claim. It's nice to do it later in the evening if you can.

 

 

3. Regarding rain, would a poncho be sufficient or is something heavier ideal?

 

Rain is a hit and miss. I have a poncho, but only used it once. I have gotten wet a couple times, but I did not melt or get sick. You just take it in stride and relish the cozy heat when you get back. I do carry it with me each time, but a little mist won't hurt.

 

Any other packing tips would be welcome and appreciated. Thanks!

 

Buy a hand held scale for $5-8 dollars to carry with you. Those souviners weigh a bit. There's nothing like watching people at the airport shuffling their clothes all over the place because a suitcase weight was now 5 lbs. more and was going to cost them and extra fifty dollars for the $10.00 in souviners they bought. I speak from experience and won't be caught with out one.

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For the activities you've described I wouldn't get rain pants. I've lived in Seattle for 30+ yrs and don't own a pair.

If you don't have a waterproof jacket I'd suggest buying a poncho ... they're less then $5 and take no space. I bought a TOTES poncho several yrs ago; it stays in my daypack and goes with me on every tripl If it's raining hard, it also protects my daypack ... along with camera, wallet,binoculars, etc. Plus it comes to the knee so offers a lot of protection. Not good in strong winds tho.

I bought my TOTES at Bartells drugstore in Seattle for $6.

Waterproof your sneakers and buy some smartwool socks.

 

Thanks for the tips. I've been shopping the past week, bought some rain jackets, binoculars, and some light long sleeves for layering. Socks though, I only have cotton. I looked for some smartwool socks and they are pricey @ $28 a pair for my big feet (size 14) on Amazon. I live in the south, so you cant find wool socks locally. To have a pair for each day, I am looking at $200 for socks. That doesn't include any for my wife. Are wool socks a "must have" ? My next item to buy are some waterproof trail shoes. I like the style and it will be something that I can use after the cruise (versus hiking boots).

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Thanks for the tips. I've been shopping the past week, bought some rain jackets, binoculars, and some light long sleeves for layering. Socks though, I only have cotton. I looked for some smartwool socks and they are pricey @ $28 a pair for my big feet (size 14) on Amazon. I live in the south, so you cant find wool socks locally. To have a pair for each day, I am looking at $200 for socks. That doesn't include any for my wife. Are wool socks a "must have" ? My next item to buy are some waterproof trail shoes. I like the style and it will be something that I can use after the cruise (versus hiking boots).

 

so skip the smart wool socks. I only have them because I live in Seattle and walk my dogs 2-3 times a day, rain or shine. I generally forget the socks when I go to Alaska and pack the cotton ones. The point is to have dry socks to change into. Nothing worse than standing around in cold wet socks and shoes. With those wonderful new shoes, wet feet won't be an issue for you!

Sounds like you're ready to go! Have a great trip.

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I also went in search of smart wool socks. I had never heard of them before, but went into Gander Mountain the other day and OH MY!! I bought one pair for DH and one for me... but they are so comfy! I know what I will be putting on my Christmas list :D We will save these for the dog musher camp excursion. I suppose we will be outside longer there.

Read that we might need rain pants but I wasn't about to spend the money on those so I found rain jacket and pants in a bag for men and women at Gander.

$14.99 versus $50-$100 for just pants that we probably would never wear again. If we don't need them they will go back to the store for refund. Between the new camera, the cost for excursions, the other clothing we had to buy... I have stopped adding everything up!

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Can anyone tell me where Columbia outlet is?

 

I had planned on buying a waterproof jacket when in Canada before the cruise or at one of our early stops on the cruise.

 

I had a giggle at the Wool socks comments and will be looking out for these as well. I don't even wear socks at all here in Perth ..... Have a couple of pairs of light weight cotton socks for wearing with sneakers or boots but our weather doesn't really get THAT cold.

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I also went in search of smart wool socks. I had never heard of them before, but went into Gander Mountain the other day and OH MY!! I bought one pair for DH and one for me... but they are so comfy! I know what I will be putting on my Christmas list :D We will save these for the dog musher camp excursion. I suppose we will be outside longer there.

Read that we might need rain pants but I wasn't about to spend the money on those so I found rain jacket and pants in a bag for men and women at Gander.

$14.99 versus $50-$100 for just pants that we probably would never wear again. If we don't need them they will go back to the store for refund. Between the new camera, the cost for excursions, the other clothing we had to buy... I have stopped adding everything up!

 

I know what you mean - I never thought I would be spending so much on gear for this cruise and it doesn't seem to end. Our cruise is in less than two weeks and I'm so glad I started packing yesterday, as we discovered my husband's raincoat (that he's had for a few years but never wore) isn't waterproof. He also had a fleece jacket that seems to have disappeared, so now back to the stores I go!

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as we discovered my husband's raincoat (that he's had for a few years but never wore) isn't waterproof. He also had a fleece jacket that seems to have disappeared, so now back to the stores I go!

 

instead of buying a waterproof coat, he can wear the jacket he currently has, and throw a poncho over it !

There's no NEED to buy all this stuff if you don't have it.... there are workarounds. If you don't have smartwool socks, just take what socks you have and maybe add an extra pr. Shoes and socks dry out so bring an extra pr of shoes to wear while the first pr dries. As someone suggested use a hairdryer to quicken the process.

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We sailed end of July on the Miracle. Everyone wore light jackets on the ship. I wish I would have brought three or four zip lightweight jackets different colors to wear with jeans during the day because you do go outside some and its chilly on ship. On the excursions, I wore jeans, fleece zip hoodie with a jean jacket over it and a Columbia rain jacket over this. It drizzles, clears, then rains all day long. When we sailed through the fjord, I wore layers and a light down jacket. Some people were in hats, gloves and walking around with blankets. It was not that cold. Hope this helps!

 

 

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