An Alaskan cruise with shore excursions such as helicopter rides to glaciers and raft rides through wildlife preserves is an adventurous vacation that is especially popular with families with active youngsters. The Alaskan cruise season runs from May through September, with the summer months of June, July and August offering the warmest temperatures. But packing for a weeklong Alaska cruise in August isn't as simple as packing for a Caribbean cruise for which swimsuits, shorts and T-shirts are sufficient for daytime activities.


The key to comfort in Alaska in August is wearing layered, breathable clothing. Even on the warmest days, activities that take you onto the water or into the mountains can require a jacket over a T-shirt and comfortable jeans or hiking shorts. It's easy enough to shed a windbreaker or light jacket if you become too warm. Leave the sandals at home; in Alaska, you'll want to wear comfortable walking shoes, hiking boots or sturdy sneakers. Rain is possible at any time, so adding a hoodie, an umbrella or a rain slicker to your suitcase would be a good idea.

On board, have a swimsuit for dipping into the often-heated pool or hot tubs on the deck and appropriate cover-ups for walking around the vessel. Daywear is casual, as are some evenings, depending on your cruise ship. However, most ships don't allow jeans, shorts or sloppy T-shirts in the main dining areas in the evening. Most ships give you the option on a seven-night cruise of participating in two formal or dressy nights. Pack cocktail dresses or dressy pantsuits for women and suits or jackets with collared shirts for men. Most ships have self-service laundries so you can wash clothes as needed.

Toiletries, First Aid Supplies

In addition to the toiletries you'd carry along on any vacation, you'll want to take some additional items on your Alaska cruise. A basic first aid kit with bandages antibiotic ointments, carried in a waterproof container, is a good idea if you will be participating in outdoor activities. Sunscreen is essential even if the temperatures are just in the 70s. Bring sunglasses and binoculars for enjoying the scenery.


It would be ridiculous to visit such a beautiful place without taking along your camera and/or video camera. Carry them in waterproof covers and take along extra batteries, memory cards, chargers and other items that you might not find easily; such supplies cost more in Alaska. If even the wilds of Alaska can't lure you away from your cell phone, BlackBerry or laptop for a week, be sure to protect them with appropriate covers and leave them safely locked up on the ship whenever possible.

Sports Equipment

Golf and tennis aren't the top sports in Alaska, but if these are your passion, you can take along your own equipment. You can save airline luggage fees by renting them on the spot. You also can rent bicycles, kayaks, canoes and Alpine hiking sticks. If your sports are more unusual and extreme, do your homework to help you determine whether you need to bring along your own equipment or if it would be possible – and more practical – to rent it.