So, you’re going on a cruise to Alaska? Congratulations!
These types of holidays are great. You get to relax on a beautiful boat, drink to your heart’s content and enjoy life on the high seas.
Alaskan cruises are quite a bit different from a typical cruise, though. Depending on the time of year, you can end up with both extremes of weather, and you aren’t going to be packing as you would usually.
As well as what to pack, you also need to consider how much you’re bringing. It can be daunting, but with some common sense, you should be fine.
What Luggage to Bring for an Alaskan Cruise
First, you need to check what the rules are regarding your cruise liner? Is there a bag limit or weight limit? Generally, no. Cruises tend to be quite relaxed. That being said, it’s not always the case, so just make sure.
Then consider how long you’re going for. Packing for three days isn’t going to look like packing for a week. Let’s presume the trip is a week-long, so you can scale up or down depending on your needs.
So, a suitcase that is around 24 inches should do you fine. It’s enough to pack all your gear into, and not too big that you can’t transport it around.
A hard-shell suitcase should be your go-to here. They’re sturdy, lightweight, and can keep all your valuables safe. Pick one up that has a set of wheels if you can, for convenience sake.
You’re going to want to bring a backpack too. Not just any bag is going to do, though. Generally speaking, Alaskan cruises involve getting off the boat to brave the cold expansive wilderness.
If this is part of your plan, a hard-case, or a hiking backpack, is going to be a necessity. What size you get depends on how much hiking you’re planning on doing. That being said, you’re not climbing Everest or traveling Europe, so don’t go crazy.
Here are some suitcases and backpacks worth checking out:
Samsonite Winfield 2
This case comes with a 10-year warranty, so you know you’re getting quality.
The outer shell is made of hard polycarbonate, so your belongings are going to be kept safe from bumps and tumbles, while also maintaining a lightweight feel to the case. The material allows the case to be flexible, easy to lift, and simple to maneuver wherever you need to bring it.
It has four 360 degree spinning wheels, further adding to its excellent mobility. The case has a clamshell design, meaning it zips open into two halves for easy packing.
They come in 20, 24, and 28-inch sizes. So they’re perfect for your weeklong cruise.
Pros and Cons
- Easy to maneuver
- Hard-shell keeps your items safe
- Hefty price-tag
- Can be too small for long trips
If you’re looking for something on the more budget-friendly side, this range of cases is your best bet.
There’s a lot to choose from here, and none of them break the bank.
You have a choice between two near-identical hard-shell cases, a soft-shell, and a carry-on. The only difference between the hard-shells is the outer finish; everything else is the same.
They come in the usual 20, 24, and 28-inch sizes, and are made of extra-thick ABS. Meaning they keep your belongings safe but won’t be very flexible.
The two hard-shells come with 360-degree spinner wheels, which is very unusual for cases of this price range. It means you don’t have to tilt your case to get it moving, which just makes your life that little bit easier.
They are also expandable. A side zipper can be undone to allow the case to bloat out a little bit, in case you want to pack a few extra pieces or end up bringing home a few sneaky bottles of wine.
A significant drawback of these cases, though, is that they don’t have any locks on them. So if you’re going to be bringing them through an airport, make sure to pick up some locks yourself.
Pros and Cons
- Affordable price-tag
- Hard-shell keeps your stuff safe
- 360-degree spinner wheels
- 3-year warranty
- Not very flexible
- No locks on the case
North Face Vault Backpack
This backpack is ludicrously affordable and perfect for a short hike in Alaska.
It can be used for everyday use, going to work or school, and for short hikes and other adventures, making it super versatile.
It has an average 28-liter capacity. So it can fit not only what you’re going to need for your hike, but a laptop and other pieces for your day-to-day life too.
There are two compartments on the bag, and it is made of polyester.
Now, while this backpack is great, it won’t survive too much wear and tear. It’s incredibly affordable at just $50 dollars, but if you’re going to be getting intense with it, go with a sturdier option.
Pros and Cons
- Super affordable
- Suitable for all types of activities
- Not incredibly durable
North Face Surge Backpack
Now this one; this one picks up on the slack of the Vault. It has a TSA friendly laptop compartment, which can save you a ton of time in airports.
The biggest selling point of the bag, for your purposes at least, is the fact that it’s made of nylon, as opposed to polyester.
Nylon is a very durable material that is water-resistant and easy to clean. Meaning it’s perfect for a short hike in Alaska.
The bag is equipped with a FlexVent suspension system, so it can keep you drier for longer. It also has a lumbar panel and a padded harness.
All these features combined make this bag one of the most comfortable you can ever wear. It stops you from getting too sweaty, keep your skin breathing, and makes sure your shoulders don’t ache too much.
Pros and Cons
- Durable and perfect for travel
- Padded straps make for a comfortable wear
- FlexVent system that allows your skin to breathe
- TSA friendly laptop compartment
- On the higher end of the price scale, going for around $130 dollars
- Not too much storage
So now you know what kind of case and bag to get, but what do you put in them?
What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise?
Whereas most think of warm, Caribbean seas out under the sun when they think of cruises, an Alaskan cruise is precisely not that. You won’t be packing for sunny days (usually), so don’t worry about packing those sandals and swimming trunks.
That being said, if it’s summer, and you’re lucky, you can end up with some delightful sun. So if you’re going during that time of year, a little extra preparation is in order.
Otherwise, don’t forget the essentials. Underwear, t-shirts, socks, and the like. It’s going to get cold, so you need to dress in layers. This starts with a comfortable, hypothermic base layer. You can get them on Amazon for relatively cheap. So before you go, do yourself a favor and grab one.
A good rain jacket won’t go amiss either. Alaska is damp and cold, so get a good quality one. Again, Amazon has a good range, but you can get one in any camping or scout store as well.
If you plan to get off the ship to explore the vast expanse, you’re going to want a sturdy pair of hiking waders. The wilderness of Alaska is rocky, and you can easily do some damage to your feet and ankles without the proper equipment. The last thing you want is to be stuck in bed for the whole trip!
Remember when you read not to bring swimming trunks at the start of this article? Yeah, that wasn’t entirely true. Granted, you aren’t going to be swimming outside, but Alaskan cruises tend to have heated hot tubs and inside pools on them, and lord knows you don’t want to miss out on that.
Don’t forget your woolies! A cozy hat, scarf, and gloves are both obvious, and essential. Don’t skimp out on quality here; these things can be lifesavers. You should also pack some
chapstick, it’s easy to not even think of it, but it can be a nightmare without it.
Hopefully, you have gotten something of value out of this. An Alaskan cruise can be a fun, relaxing, and memorable experience, so make sure you make the most of it.
Just be sure to plan ahead. Whereas with a typical cruise, the warm weather and luxury of it all tend to be more forgiving than the cold and icy climate of the Alaskan environment.
Pack for cold weather and be ready to layer up. Make sure you bring the right type of case and backpack, too. A hard-shell suitcase on wheels is your best option, as well as a durable outdoor travel bag for your hiking adventures.
You have options, though. Use your common sense as to what you need, and your trip is going to turn out just fine! Have faith in yourself and your planning abilities!
Above all, though, be sure to enjoy yourself. You’re going on holiday! So relax, take a breather, and enjoy the break. You’ve earned it.