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What should a first-time cruiser pack for Alaska?


What should a first-time cruiser pack for Alaska?  

494 members have voted

  1. 1. What 3 items would you tell first-time Alaska cruisers to pack?

    • Layers
    • Binoculars
    • Rain Gear
    • Hiking Boots
    • Insect Repellent
    • Sunscreen
    • Good Photo Gear
    • Motion-Sickness Medicine
    • Collapsable, Easy-to-Pack Day Bag or Backpack
    • Something Else (Please let us know in 2-3 sentences)


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To help our fellow cruisers out, Cruise Critic wants to hear what you think are the three most important things a person cruising to Alaska for the first time must bring with them. None of the options match your advice? Feel free to tell us your own special what-to-pack advice. 

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  • LauraS pinned this topic
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Sunglasses!!

Ocean sun and "glacier" glare!

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Posted (edited)

Fancy photogear is not needed, since phones do such a good job with pictures now, Bring a power pack to stay charged. Unless you plan to do advanced  hiking, good comfortable sneakers are enough, spray them with waterproofing. 

Edited by simplelife
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Rain gear also included in layers. Binoculars because I have poor enough eyesight that I can use the help. Sunscreen (and I include sunglasses as a sunscreen) due to past experience with skin cancer.

 

If I'm doing a glacier excursion (actually trekking on it), I'd pack hiking boots. But shoes with a good tread would be good otherwise.

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As a first-time cruiser this July, I'm finding this list and conversation super helpful. Thank you!  

 

Re. insect repellent.  Is that mainly for excursions or also needed on the cruise ship?

 

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7 minutes ago, DCJP said:

As a first-time cruiser this July, I'm finding this list and conversation super helpful. Thank you!  

 

Re. insect repellent.  Is that mainly for excursions or also needed on the cruise ship?

 

I've never needed/used repellent on the ship (1 Alaska cruise, about 12 tropical).

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I have been to Alaska 5 times over the years and never once brought insect repellent and I don't remember ever needing it.

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Can't overstate the value of a lightweight waterproof layer that can be easily rolled (or packed into it's own zip case) and popped into day bag/knapsack. For places known to have weather (or quirky weather) it will come in handy more often than not. Add a foldable bucket had if the rain layer doesn't have a hood. 

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If you need any layers, rain gear, binoculars, headlamps (I pack one for EVERY trip I take!!):

REI is having their annual Anniversary Sale right now.  25-40% off on many, many items.  Even on daybacks, rolling luggage, sling bags.  I spent a bit last year just replenishing things for my Alaska trip and got back a $70 dividend for this year (membership is cool!).  Just used it to pick up some miscellaneous items (hiking staff, new small lamp (very useful on the balcony at night)).   

I say headlamp because:  frees your hands in case of emergency, easy to slip on to use to read if your partner wants to sleep, quick to use to walk to the bathroom. I used to be a small flashlight person, but I was converted to the headlamp after walking my dog when I got home from work at 11:30pm and also having to use unlit portapotties in some campgrounds.  

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A hat. Definitely a hat. Works for sun protection, glare protection, and rain protection. Don't leave home without it.

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On 5/17/2024 at 11:03 AM, Lois R said:

I have been to Alaska 5 times over the years and never once brought insect repellent and I don't remember ever needing it.

J definitely needed insect repellent for several days in and around Denali on a Memorial Day weekend. The mosquitoes were out for blood.

 

Didn't need it for briefer shore excursions during a similar time period.

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I’d include a muffler/scarf/pashmina.

And I always bring a roll of Scotch tape - all kinds of uses!  Tape a note to the door of friends you meet on board, tape maps or invitations to your wall, emergency hem repair are a few. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/20/2024 at 7:46 PM, JDincalif said:

J definitely needed insect repellent for several days in and around Denali on a Memorial Day weekend. The mosquitoes were out for blood.

 

Didn't need it for briefer shore excursions during a similar time period.

We didn't need it for that in August - it may be worse in spring. 

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Everyone should have layers including a rain layer (at least a rain shell with a hood - it didn't rain hard enough or long enough that we found rain pants necessary. Also sun screen as a lot of activities are outdoor.

 

The rest depends on what you plan to do, your interests and personal needs. I enjoyed having a compact camera with a 30x optical zoom - getting pictures of distant wildlife without losing resolution. A nice not too heavy binocular can be nice also.

 

Hiking shoes (e.g. Merrill Moab) are nice if you plan on a lot of hiking. For me, high top hiking boots are for back packing - the ankle support helps when carrying a heavy load but not needed for regular hiking unless someone has ankle issues.

 

Motion sickness medication  - if you generally need it on a cruise, bring it. Also depends on itinerary. Sailing is usually very smooth while in the inside passage. If the cruise goes to Seward or Whittier, it can get rough crossing the Gulf of Alaska. It's also useful for a Kenai Fjords boat excursion from Seward.

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  • LauraS unpinned this topic

I find discussions about dressing for Alaska interesting.   It isn't like you are joining Peary on a hike to the North Pole.  

 

I bring basically what I would wear traveling to other places along with a rain coat. What would you wear to Northern Europe or British Columbia?   Bring that.  Don't forget some shorts for warm days.  If you are going to be on a glacier, bring thick socks.  

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Since hiking boots have been mentioned, I might point out that there are several hiking trails in Skagway.

 

SkagwayMapTrails.thumb.jpg.3f24172c69abcb5236c48681250bfe77.jpg

 

I have done the two on the left side of the map (circled).  I have not needed hiking boots for either--good sneakers worked fine.  The one at the bottom of the map gets fairly steep.  This septuagenarian was huffing and puffing but made it up to the lake.  Coming down is when I was really grateful for good grip on the soles of my feet.  I agree that good hiking boots would have given me even more security.  The trail across the river is not nearly as challenging.  There are additional trails near the cemetery off to the right of the map.  I have never ventured out that way.

 

The price is right--free.

 

Regarding the "must pack" list, I have nothing to add, but would like to emphasize binoculars.

 

It will probably rain.  We usually pack one of those collapsing umbrellas.

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bring an empty foldable tote and dot pack any sweatshirts.  The tote is for bringing back all those sweatshirts that you will buy in ports ( Alaska Trading Company..or is it the Alaska Store has great deals on sweatshirts or hats/t shirts combo)

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