Alaska Packing List

Packing for an Alaskan Cruise 101

Featured above & worn on my trip:

DailyShoes Hunter Rainboots | Makeitmint Military Anorak Jacket | Love Lakeside Cashmere Feel Winter Plaid Scarf | Refresh Wynne Combat Lace Up Ankle Bootie | ScarvesMe Solid Ribbed Beanie & PomPom | NeatPack Foldable Backpack | Gap 1969 Boyfriend Jeans | REI Smart Wool Hiking socks | The North Face Venture Rain Jacket

Everything I read while researching online before my cruise indicated that it would be cool on the ship and warm on-land. Warm to the point of tee-shirts and shorts. So I packed light jackets, a few pairs of pants, tee’s, and shorts for excursions. Unfortunately for me, my reading was so chillingly WRONG! It was freezing on the boat and only 40 – 50 degrees on-land. I wore all of my jackets on-top of one another and rocked my warm beanie every day! Thankfully for you, I am here to help you weather your cruise so you are warm and comfy throughout your trip!

Below are my recommendations for a 7-day Alaskan cruise. Overall, layers will be your best friend, so try to pack things that match well with one another.

Clothing:

  • Jackets (3): Heavy jacket, layering jacket, water proof jacket
  • Shirts (7): Base layer tee’s for layering. Bring a few cute ones for around the cruise ship and some active style shirts for your excursions
  • Pants: warm leggings (2 pairs), jeans, shorts (1 pair)
  • Formal wear: 2 nights worth of dresses or nice skirt / top combo
  • Bathing suit
  • Sweat wicking socks for active days (REI has the most comfy hiking socks around for great prices)
  • Workout gear: most cruise ships have a full gym so packing a few days of workout clothes for your full sailing days is a great way to defeat the buffet

Accessories:

  • Water bottle
  • Binoculars & camera
  • Gloves, beanie, scarves
  • Umbrella
  • Day bag: packable backpack recommended
  • Sun screen & bug spray (if you go on a hike)
  • Clutch wallet for your phone and cruise ship id to bring around the boat

Shoes:

  • Waterproof shoes or rain boots
  • Comfortable walking shoes for excursions: sneakers or hiking boots
  • Sandals for walking to the spa or pool / hot tub

Packing for an Alaskan Cruise 101

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Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska

There was an hour time change through the night and so I got an extra hour to sleep in! Despite having and interior room with no windows to gauge time, Ryan woke at the crack of dawn and went down to breakfast. I told him I would get up at 9 AM and meet him. Right at 9, he barges into the room and tells me that he and his family saw Orcas and whales off the side of the ship, so I hurried through my wake-up process and ran upstairs to see. Alas, all of the whales had disappeared, however, the view itself was enough to take my breath away. We were in a channel surrounded by huge, snow-crested mountains that had skirts of lush greenery whose colors were the definition of evergreen. Cascading from the pockets of snow were waterfalls that ran the length of the mountain all the way down to the water we sailed upon. I have to say, it was the best breakfast view I’ve ever had.

We had about 2 hours before our boat went ashore, so Ryan and I decided to jump into the hot tub. The contrast of the hot water and cool touch of the air mixed with the mountain views was just great. Not to mention the added bonus of the jets massaging our caves which ached from running up and down the ships stairs between floors!

Eventually, it was time to run back to the room and get ready for our whale watching excursion in Juneau! We had a quick-lunch onboard the ship and I tried to get the “world renowned” crab cakes that were on display in the lunch que, but they hadn’t made them yet so I had to go with a burger. I was disappointed but I quickly shrugged that off as we debarked. We had about 1.5 hours until we needed to meet our tour guides, so we walked down the wharf to the shops. We tried on some hats and looked through the chachkies. Ryan and I took off a bit further into the town of Juneau which is packed with fun shops and yummy looking seafood places. After some window shopping (even though I wanted to buy everything) at this adorable shop called Trove, Ryan and I rendezvous with his family and then met the Harv & Marv’s tour guides by the boat. The pointed us to our 20-person shuttle that was our transport to the marina.

It was about a 20-minute scenic drive to the marina where our ship and Captain, Captain Steve of the Merlin, was waiting for us. Steve was very nice and was quick to help us on our private boat to head out before any of the other boats beat us.

Whale watching with Harv and Marvs in Juneau, Alaska

After taking off from the dock, the hunt was on to spot a spout of a whale. It took about 15 minutes before we came across a breaching blue whale calf! The mother was close by as well and both of them kept popping up to the surface. We even got to see the mother’s tail a few times! We watched them for about 30 minutes and then they disappeared.

We took off down the waterway, passing bald eagles and sea lions along the way! The sea lions kept popping their heads up out of the water – super cute! We finally found another set of baby and mother whales right by a glacier. The baby whale was playing and kept bobbing its head up out of the water. It was such a cool site, especially with the backdrop of the white mountain tops. Absolutely breathtaking. I loved everything about the experience. Especially seeing the other boats crammed packed with people who did not get a private boat. For $20 more, it was totally worth doing!

A blad eagle in Juneau, Alasak

We sadly had to head back to the marina and then back to the cruise ship harbor. We had until 10 PM to board the ship, so Ryan and I walked around downtown Juneau. We bought some trinkets in town, and Ryan was hungry so we stopped by Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos food truck so he could get some delicious Rock Fish tacos. They were not only reasonably priced, but the bite I had was so yummy.

I, personally, was saving my stomach for some Alaskan King Crab since I didn’t get my fill from lunch earlier. Luckily, Tracy’s King Crab Shack was on the walk back to the ship so we stopped by. While I just wanted a crab cake initially, we ended up with a combo so we could try a crab leg, the crab bisque, and crab cakes all at once. Oh My Gosh! It was so fresh and delicious! Not only that, but the location right on the docks with the buckets of crab legs whizzing by for other tables made the experience just so much more.


With very full bellies, we walked back to the ship, watched some live music in the Piazzo, and went to bed!

Alaska, Day 1

Alaska, Day 1

We made it to the Crown Princess:

We took a big black Uber, that just barely fit all of us and our bags, to the Crown Princess cruise ship. Once we got to the loading dock, we got in line ready for the long, tedious process of boarding. To our surprise, none of that actually happened and we were on the ship in less than 30 minutes! It could not have been more painless or organized! We were led to our rooms and, to our surprise, the room was big-ish. We got a middle-boat room with no windows, but the mirrors in the room made it appear much bigger and there was a HUGE closet! Score!

While waiting on our luggage, we met up with the Maitre D’ to make a reservation at the steak restaurant, grabbed a celebratory margarita at the bar, went to lunch at the buffet, and then soaked in the view with some Champaign on the upper deck. Not too shabby, huh?

Alaska cruise aboard the Crown Princess

We relaxed in the room until our 5:30 dinner time at the Botticelli dining room. We had a 6-person table by the window and a really nice wait staff! I had some vegetarian egg rolls with peanut sauce to start, tortellini soup, and salmon with a sweet almond crust as a main. It was all pretty good. For dessert, I ordered the chocolate soufflé, but the waiter decided to give us one of each dessert to try! I was so full!

After dinner, we walked to the Princess Theater for the singing and dancing show. It was old school and cheesy but the singing and dancing was good. The announcer who hosted the show told us that the Princess was having a The Voice competition and told us about all of the other cool things coming up. So excited for the adventures to come! After the show, we checked out the view, the sun stays up until like 10 PM, and then we watched movies until bed time.

Sunday – Traveling to Juneau

When you have an interior room on a cruise, you have absolutely no way to tell what time it is, with the exception of your trusty cell phone or watch. When you turn the lights out, it is completely and utterly dark. With that said, waking up is hard when you are toasty under the covers in a dark and cold room. After some coaxing from Ryan, I finally got up thinking I had slept in way too much, but as it turns out, it was only 8:30 AM! We had put out our order from breakfast in bed the night before, so around 9, there was a knock on the door and breakfast was served. We watched some TV while browsing the day’s activities and eating some cereal, grapefruit, croissants, and sipping coffee.

Alaska cruise aboard the Crown Princess

We decided to start our day with a spin at the gym. Unlike Caribbean cruises where everyone opts for sunbathing over weight lifting, the gym on our Alaskan cruise ship was packed! I did some weights and watched Miss. DoubtFire on the treadmill. There is nothing that helps me run more than a good movie with no commercials!

After the gym, we hit the buffet for a quick breakfast themed snack and then met up with Ryan’s family at the bar. I had a Bloody Mary and we watched the Aerobatrix two-person show perform in the Piazza. They had a very cute show that was quite similar to acts we had seen a few weeks prior at the Texas Scarborough Fair. After the show, we went to the Mexican Food buffet for lunch and the Acrobatrix members sat at the table next to us. We started chatting about some of the acts from the Scarborough Fair and, wouldn’t you know it, they knew exactly who we were talking about and were friends with those other acts through the circus scene! Small world, huh?

Ryan was not feeling so hot, so he went back to the room. I eventually rejoined him after a quick peek at the “outdoor track”. It was the smallest “track” I have ever seen and was too windy to walk on, let alone run! I came back to the room with every intention of going back to the gym while Ryan napped, but there was an interesting show about tree houses on and I accidentally feel asleep as well.

We had dinner reservations at the Crown Grill steak resultant at 5:30. Unfortunately, the rockiness of the day got to one member of our party, so only 5 of us made it to dinner. We were sat at a table right next to a wedding party who all looked quite lovely. Eventually, another bride and groom showed up and sat next to the other wedding party, and the staff brought out cakes for both parties and we clapped for all. It was quite a celebration!

Our dinner started with a delicious Alaskan crab cake, followed by an aged goat cheese and beet salad, a deliciously cooked NY Strip steak with sautéed mushrooms and mashed red potatoes, and ending with a desert medley that included a small sampling of every desert on the menu! Oh so delicious. The steak came with three different salts on the side; Himalayan, smoked Applewood, and Black Lava sea salt. I would pinch a different salt and sprinkle it on each morsel of steak to create the most flavorful experience! I am not a huge steak person but I will be buying salts and making steak as soon as I return to Texas!

Desert at the Crown Grill on the Crown Princess Alaskan Cruise ship

Dinner ended right around 7:15 – just in time to watch The Martian on the top deck! Ryan and I had been wanting to watch The Martian for months now so it was a perfect way to enjoy the movie. Though our lounges were slightly wet and it was 50 degrees out, we bundled up with extra towels and some blankets the crew gave us and watched the movie with the most spectacular view! I want to say it was relaxing but the movie definitely had me on edge! I highly recommend it and its book counterpart.

Keeping warm while watching a movie on the deck of the Crown Princess Alaskan cruise ship

It was quite a ride walking on through the hallways with the drastic rocking of the boat. We went to the store and bought some Dramamine for some of our sea-sick travel buddies, and then we went to our cabin for some needed rest.

Alaska cruise aboard the Crown Princess

Alaskan Cruise 101

Alaskan Cruise 101

Thinking of embarking on an Alaskan cruise? Before you book, ask yourself, do you love incredible views? Can you appreciate nature in its rawest form? Have you dreamed of soaring with bald eagles or watching whales launch out of the water? Are you ready for a life changing trip?! If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, Alaska is calling!

Humpback whale in Juneau, Alaska

A few things you should take into account before you book:

  • You are only fully on board the ship for 2 whole days that are spread apart. The other 5 have some sort of stop, so don’t worry about getting too cooped up!
  • Alaskan cruises are much more laid back than Caribbean cruises. There is less of a “party” scene and the actives are a little further apart / aimed at an adult crowd. With that said, if you are ok with the relaxed vibe, you are good to go! You can also make the cruise as jam packed as you want by taking advantage of all of the on-ship activities, even the ones that may not peak your interest at first.
  • Expect to spend about double the cost of your cruise ticket. From transportation, hotels, excursions, dining, and cruise fees, cruises can cost quite a bit more than expected. More detail on this is below in the Booking Fees section of this post.

Booking Your Cruise

  • Booking through a major travel agency can have a lot of perks.
    • Make sure the agency books a lot of cruises so they have buying power first. Those agents can get you the best deals on your cruise price.
    • You can get room upgrades on better floors or locations. You do not want to be the floor beneath the treadmills or food courts! Agents can also help book multiple room parties close together.
    • They will ensure you have the best dining options like restaurant preferences and getting tables next to windows.
    • They can get you on ship credits between $25 – $100 per room and can help you get any booking specials that might be running.
  • Interior vs. exterior rooms are up to you. Exterior rooms are about double the cost so it really depends on your budget.
    • Interior rooms have big mirrors so they seem larger than they appear. You will not be in your room too much since there are so many days off of the boat. We booked an interior room and it was fine with us!
    • Balcony rooms – Go big or go home right? If you do want a view, go with the balcony instead of the window. You will have a great view and have a high likely hood of seeing whales right from your bed if you are an early riser. It is also nice to have the privacy while viewing the glaciers from your room. This is a great option if you don’t mind spending extra and you can potentially qualify for a free drink package if you book at the right time and check the ongoing deals page!
  • Expect extra fees on your trip.
    • Not only does the cruise cost $800+ depending on the room you pick, but there is a daily “tip” fee for your room cleaning team of $25+ per room.
    • Excursions are not included so plan for $50 – $500 per port for excursions depending on what you want to do.
    • For any use of the gym facilities outside of do-it-yourself, there are fees. $20 to use the upgraded saunas, spa treatments (for which I am a sucker), $12 per yoga class… these things also add up if you do them.
    • Gratuity is automatically added to any additional food / drinks you buy from bars / restaurants not included in the base price of the cruise.
    • Don’t forget transportation from the airport to your pre-boarding hotel or to the docks. In Seattle, this can be about $40 to downtown and another $20 to the docks. Multiply this by two for both ways.
    • If you don’t want to be risky and fly in the morning of your cruise, you will also need to account for the hotel on either side of your trip. I highly recommend the Maxwell hotel in Seattle as it is not too expensive ($137 per night), has amazingly comfy beds, and lots of personality.

Excursion Planning:

Don’t book on the ship because you will be going in a huge group and paying too much. Also, don’t worry about booking early!

  • We booked all of our excursions off the boat and in advance of our cruise to save money and to ensure we got what we wanted. Little did we know that at every single port, there are tons of excursion booking booths with discounted rates for basically every tour offered on the ship. Not only that, but almost all places guarantee you will be back in time before your ship leaves.
  • The excursions we did and highly recommend are below:
    • Juneau – Harv & Marv’s whale watching. Not only did we see tons of whales, we had a personal boat for the 6 of us for about $20 more than what we would have paid for a huge group boat ride.
    • Skagway – Skagway Shore Tours Hike and Float picked us up right from port and took 9 of us total to the Chilkoot Trail for a two-mile rainforest hike and then float down the Taiya River. It cost $95 for the 4-hour experience and included snacks and two great guides!
    • Ketchikan – Southeast Sea Kayaks took us on a 4-hour kayaking adventure through Orca Cove. There were a total of 6 people on our tour, including us, and the tour was $169 per person. We spent 2 full hours kayaking and it was our favorite part of the entire trip.

Kayaking in Ketchikan Alaska

Packing Essentials:

  • Forms of identification: Passport and ID are a must so don’t forget them! Also, you may want to bring a lanyard for your cruise ship ID card so you do not lose it while walking around.
  • Warm stuff: I read mixed reviews about how warm it gets in the various ports in Alaska and packed mid-warm jackets. I wish I had a heavier jacket, especially for the days we were onboard the ship.
    • Warm gloves, a beanie, scarves, warm socks, and a waterproof jacket are must haves.
  • The right shoes: I wore my hiking boots or my rain boots the entire trip. Seattle was very rainy so my rain boots were a total hit (and I jumped in quite a few puddles). My hiking boots were warm and great for the long walking days ashore.
    • Have the right socks and waterproof / warm walking shoes.
  • Rain gear: It rained at least once 90% of the days we were on our trip. My rain jacket, rain boots, and umbrella were life savers. Don’t forget them!
  • Personal products:
    • For every trip, sunscreen is a must have.
    • Bring lots of hydrating moisturizer and lip balm as well since the dry weather will get to you.
    • If you have finicky hair, the 2-in-1 shampoo / conditioner on the ship isn’t great so make sure you pack your favorite travel sized hair product. Also, the hairdryers are low powered so, if you have thick hair like mine, bring a hairdryer that won’t take 45 minutes of your cruise time to dry your hair.
  • Day-pack: I bought a North Face Flyweight foldable backpack that zips itself into a tiny bag that takes almost no space in my luggage. This bag became my go to for all of our excursions. It held my water bottle, was my wallet, had space for my rain jacket, umbrella, camera, and any other gear I could need for the day. It was so much better than carrying a purse around and was one of the most convenient things I had on the trip. A day-pack is a must for any active excursions.

On Board Your Cruise

Boarding & Debarking:

  • Airport to dock or hotel: We took an Uber from the Seattle airport to our hotel. There should not be surge pricing at the airport since there are tons of transport options. Almost every car service goes to the airport so getting to your hotel or the port should be easy. Expect about $40 to downtown for two people.
  • Downtown hotel to port: Surge pricing can occur close to the boarding time so check what your Uber fare is from your hotel to the port. If it is surge pricing, check with your hotel. They should also have shuttle / car services at set prices to take you to the port. This will help you get a good gauge for how much you should pay.
  • Boarding: Our boat started boarding at noon and we got there right when it started. There was a minimal line and it only took us 15 minutes to board! Once we were on ship, we were free to grab a celebratory drink! In short, get there early to avoid lines and start your cruise quickly and stress free!
  • Debarking: There are two options; carrying your own bags off the ship or letting the ship do it for you.
    • Recommended: Carrying your bags off early will get you off the boat by 8AM and you will not need to wait for your luggage. Our de-board time was 7:55 AM and we were off the ship and in an Uber at 8:15 AM. It can’t get much easier than that!
    • For those letting the ship deal with your luggage, it gets collected the night before you debark. Then, you have to be out of your room and in a holding area by 8 AM where you must wait until your group gets called, which may not be until 10AM. The process is relatively quick from there but then you also have to find your baggage. On top of all of that, the traffic to get out of the port and the prices for transport go up drastically since it is peak hour. By the time you are back in the city, you have missed out on at least 2 hours of prime tourist time!

Cruise Food 101:

Breakfast:

  • For when you aren’t in a rush in the morning, a great breakfast option is breakfast in bed! While the menu is a little more limited to mainly baked goods, cereal, and fruit, having breakfast while looking out your balcony / window in bed it an excellent start to the day! Not only that, but its complementary.
  • The buffet open as early as 6 AM and restaurants at 9 AM for all other breakfast options. The food it’s the same pretty much where ever you go.

Lunch:

  • Typically, while at sea, the formal restaurants are open for lunch. While they take longer than the buffet, the food is typically a bit better.
  • One of the buffet restaurants on board usually has a rotating menu of different cuisine. Look for the daily updates in your cruise itinerary for new options like “A Taste of Alaska”, Mexican, Indian, or Chinese food.

Dinner:

  • Book the 5:30 PM (or early) dinner reservation for your evening dinners. The food and menu is much better in the restaurants (included in the price of your cruise) than the buffets. Also, booking the early dinner will ensure that you are done in time for any of the fun shows or evening activities that the cruise provides.
  • Try a celebratory dinner at least one night in one of the other restaurants onboard that you have to pay for. We had a delicious 4 course steak dinner in the Crown Grill for only $29 a person. Considering we are from Texas and have good taste in steaks, I can say with confidence that it was a great deal and a great meal.

Alcohol / Beverage Options:

Before buying the alcohol package on the cruise, which can be over $50 per day (about 5 drinks a day), consider the following:

  • Look for / ask your travel agent about free alcohol packages if you book a suite or balcony room.
  • You can bring a bottle of wine per person in your luggage which can save you money. Also, if you go with friends who bought the alcohol package, get them to bring your extra bottles of wine in their luggage.
  • There are happy hours onboard almost twice a day (around 3 PM and 10 PM) which have deals like buy one, get one for $1.
  • You will be off the boat for multiple days so you will be paying your alcohol packages on those days even if you don’t use them.
  • Overall, we did not buy the drink package and faired just fine.

On-Board Tidbits:

  • On-ship communication:
    • Most blogs will recommend walkie-talkies to talk to your other cruise buddies. On Princess cruises at least, there is no need for them! Princess has an airplane-mode website that is free on their Wi-Fi. The site lets you message anyone else on the cruise. You can even have group chat! While it is not an app so there are no pop-up notifications, it is still a good way to communicate with your buddies without paying for anything extra.
    • The Princess website will also show all of the day’s activities so you can check them out / add them to your personal calendar while on the ship. You can even share events with people through
      the messenger function as well!
  • Movie nights: A must do at least once! The ship shows various movies each day on the outside movie screen. Find one you want to watch, grab a hot chocolate, and pick a lounge chair to relax in on deck. Too cold? Don’t worry, the staff provides fleece blankets and warm popcorn for an incredible movie watching experience.
  • Art auctions: Do not buy art on board the ship without doing your internet research first. A lot of times the prices are high and the value is low. What you should do, however, is attend the high-speed auction and watch people spend tens of thousands of dollars on pieces in seconds and the funny auctioneers try and get people to buy. It was quite an entertaining part of the trip!
  • Get involved in the axe-throwing, karaoke, trivia, or dance competitions. It will only make your trip that much more fun and will make you an on-board celebrity!
  • Attend the Alaskan speaker events that come onboard. A word of warning, their stories are inspiring and will make you want pack up and move to Alaska as soon as you return home.

Alaskan Cruise