12 Must-Pack Necessities For Your Alaska Cruise
Here are twelve must-bring items to pack for your Alaska cruise:
1. Plenty of Layers. Alaska’s weather can change constantly throughout the day, so it’s important to be prepared. Bring lots of clothing layers and some light rain gear. Your requirements will also vary substantially based on the shore excursions you choose, such as adventure-based kayaking and hiking on glaciers. Review your shore excursions’ requirements in advance and plan accordingly. Make sure to pack a waterproof rain jacket with a hood, packable umbrella, waterproof pants for kayaking, a warm fleece, lightweight vest, hat, gloves, and scarf. Tennis shoes or other comfortable shoes with good treads are key. Check the weather in advance. You may want to throw a pair of shorts and some short-sleeved shirts into your suitcase as well.
2. Great Camera Gear. Whales breach, spy hop and move quickly, so it's much easier to get good pictures if you have a camera with a long lens and a fast shutter speed. Bring along a digital SLR camera with a long lens if you have one, or a high-megapixel compact camera with a long zoom lens. Digital SLR cameras will deliver the best pictures of fast-moving wildlife and events, like breaching whales and calving glaciers. Due to possible wet conditions, it's important to protect your camera equipment so pack a dry bag or several large zip-lock bags for your trip. In addition, pack plenty of camera digital image storage cards, batteries, and anything that you need to capture your vacation memories. Camera supplies will be far more expensive on the ship and in Alaska than at home. My rule of thumb for Alaska: take the amount of digital storage cards and batteries that you usually bring on a normal cruise vacation and double it.
3. Portable Chargers. The scenery and experiences in Alaska are extraordinary, so you're likely to be on the go and using your cell phone and/or tablet constantly. Make sure to bring along portable chargers to take with you so you won't run out of battery power. If you're traveling with multiple family members, bring a few chargers for everyone to share.
4. Good Binoculars. Orcas, calving glaciers and breaching whales – oh my! There’s so much to see on an Alaska cruise, but some of it might not be nearby. High quality binoculars can be essential for viewing Alaska’s wonders. If you're lucky, you may even see a bear or two.
5. Alarm Clock. Ship staterooms generally aren't equipped with clocks, so bring your own battery-powered alarm clock along. You'll need to be up early for many Alaska shore excursions. While some people resort to using their cell phone as an alarm clock, others prefer to leave their cell phone completely off while cruising. If you're worried about waking up for an early shore excursion, request a wake-up call from the ship, too. While out on shore excursions, it’s also helpful to wear as watch set to ship’s time as well.
6. Waterproof Shoes or Boots. Alaska’s terrain can be uneven, the weather is sometimes rainy, and a number of adventure-oriented activities require boots or shoes with good treads. Bring a pair of comfortable waterproof boots on your Alaska cruise along with several pairs of good socks in case one pair gets wet. Make sure to break in your shoes well before your cruise to avoid blisters and other problems.
7. Insect Repellent. Alaska’s mosquitoes are sometimes referred to as “the state bird,” and with good reason. Occasionally there are lots of them present, along with flies and other bugs. Pack good insect repellent (pump bottle or wipes) to use on your Alaska cruise. In addition, it’s helpful to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts if the weather is appropriate.
8. Sunscreen. Some of Alaska’s best shore excursions involve being outdoors for hours whale watching, kayaking, hiking and fishing. On sunny days, it’s easy to get sunburned if you're not properly protected. Pack good sunscreen with strong SPF protection for every member of your traveling crew.
9. Motion Sickness Aids. Over-the-counter drugs such as Bonine, Dramamine and Benadryl can be very effective in preventing seasickness. Since they are available without a prescription, they can be easily obtained at local grocery stores and drug stores. All of these medicines can cause drowsiness and other side effects and different people may find one to be more effective than the other. Try them out to see which one works best for you. Many seasoned cruise guests swear by wearable seasickness prevention remedies such as Transderm-Scop patches and Sea-Bands. Sea-Bands are available from retail stores, while Transderm-Scop patches can be obtained from your doctor.
10. Multi-Outlet Power Strip. Many staterooms have only one or two outlets, which are never enough for all the tablets, camera battery chargers, cell phones, and all the other tech equipment cruisers bring with them on the ship. Pack a multi-outlet adaptor or a power strip with a six-foot cord to enable easy charging for all your gear. Make sure to avoid those with surge protectors as those are prohibited on some ships.
11. Lightweight Backpack. Shore excursions in Alaska can involve lots of walking, hiking and other activities. Bring along a lightweight backpack to use on port days. You'll need somewhere to store your gear, souvenirs and any layers that you're taking off throughout the day.
12. Proper Documentation. Alaska cruises may require passports, depending upon your nationality and itinerary. It’s important to consult with your cruise line and travel agent well before your trip to make sure you have the appropriate documentation needed for your cruise. If you're a parent cruising solo with your children, check with your cruise line for specific documentation requirements. A notarized letter from the other parent may be required for boarding. Grandparents traveling solo with their grandchildren or families bringing along one of their children’s friends may need to bring a notarized letter from parents as well.
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