Must-haves to keep you comfortable throughout your big adventure
From viewing fjords from the comfort of your suite, to connecting with nature on an optional Ventures by Seabourn™ kayaking excursion, an Alaska cruise is truly a thrilling experience. But before setting off, take some time to pack the proper essentials that’ll help you stay comfortable so you can focus on the most important thing: having fun.
When it comes down to packing for an Alaska cruise, it’s not about rethinking every little detail; you can actually follow most common guidelines on how to pack for a cruise (which we outlined in this Current post). But there are a few important differences and additions. Read on for those.
Your suite and the ship’s public spaces will be around the same temperature as on any warm-weather cruise, but the outdoor and connecting spaces will obviously be much cooler. For this reason, perhaps the single most important article of clothing for 24/7 wear, is a warm, lightweight base layer. Long johns might work for some but they’re simply too hot and bulky for most. Luckily, many companies, from big-box fashion brands to more sporting stores, have lines of technologically advanced, warm, and ultra-lightweight styles to wear as a toasty — but not overwhelming — base layer that’ll keep you warm when things get cool, but won’t make you overheat at normal room temperature.
“Lightweight-yet-warm” is another smart mantra to adapt when you’re choosing accessories for outdoor cabins. Lightweight wool scarves, hats, and gloves will keep you toasty without adding bulk, so you can move around easily and comfortably (and easily handle those binoculars and that camera click button). Similarly, a lightweight wool sweater adds warmth without bulk — and it even dresses up well for dinner. Lastly, a light rain slicker is a must, as rainy days are common in the warmer months.
This one won’t be surprising: a great all-weather jacket is a must. Just as important is a roomy-yet-detachable hood and ample pockets. (If you’re on a Seabourn cruise, you won’t have to worry about the coat, as you’ll be provided with a complimentary Seabourn all-weather jacket that’ll perfectly prep you for every aspect of your Alaska experience.)
Once you’ve got the coat covered, pick waterproof hiking shoes or boots with thick rubber soles — they’ll keep you both dry and stable in the Alaska wilderness. Waterproof pants and gloves are also musts to ensure total comfort throughout your experience, as are fleece sweaters (which dry more quickly than wool) and lightweight thermal underwear.
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When it comes to dressing for your adventure, choose versatile, multi-use pieces like T-shirts you can wear under your shirt as an extra layer or for warmth by itself. Pick shirts that are lightweight, moisture-wicking, and come with SPF sun protection and/or insect repellent (large sporting-goods stores are a good place to find shirts most or all of the above). Also, pack long, lightweight, fast-drying pants to further lighten your luggage. And — for the greatest flexibility in varying climates like this one — choose pants that zip off to become shorts.
On the accessories front: Bring a lightweight, waterproof backpack so you can stay hands-free (and keep your items dry) on your adventure; a light, collapsible walking staff (also called a trekking pole); and compact, high-performance binoculars (10x power and 25mm objective diameter are the numbers to aim for if you want to get a good glimpse of wildlife).
When it comes to toiletries, pack whatever you use for your regular winter skin-care routine. That means heavier body lotions with soothing moisturizers like shea butter, foot and hand creams, and more lip balm than you think you need (it’s hard to filter cracked lips out of your vacation pics). Don’t forget the sunscreen: You may not be sunning by the pool, but exposed areas still need sun protection. And mosquito repellent, too: because, yes, mosquitoes are a thing in Alaska. Lastly, bring some resealable bags, as a layer of protection for important things like pill bottles.
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