Even though our cruise to Alaska aboard Un-Cruise Adventures‘ Wilderness Discoverer’s Ultimate Bay & Fjords sailing was almost two years ago, the posts about that trip remain some of the most popular ones here on the blog. Last year around this time – as people were starting to plan for their own trips – I started getting emails asking me about the packing list. I’ve also been asked a few times over on the TripAdvisor message boards what we packed for our two-week journey, so I figured now was as good a time as any to write a post about it to help those out who are looking for real-world feedback.
To be fair to Un-Cruise, I found their suggested packing list very helpful as the basis for your first wave of packing. On our particular cruise in mid-to-late May, the weather outside swung between very warm to very cold depending on where we were. For example, when we sailed into Glacier Bay and continued up the bay toward some of the glaciers on deck it was very cold. The next day though, it was very warm. I’m talking shorts and t-shirt weather. Now, I know that doesn’t happen for everyone, but Alan was smart when packing and had thrown in a pair of shorts. I had not and I was pretty darn warm for the whole day. The other thing we encountered was the ship itself was always very warm and I had packed for cold weather. Yes, I had layers (as recommended) but they were layers that were more suited to preparing for the outdoors than for sitting at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I ended up buying t-shirts and flip flops in Juneau for the second half of our trip because I couldn’t imagine one more week of walking around in long sleeves and Uggs.
So, all that said, here is my list of essential items to pack:
- Rain pants (We got ours from REI)
- Snug leggings, thermals, or base layers to wear under rain pants
- Rugged pants for hiking
- Ones you don’t mind getting very muddy and that you can move around in
- Rain jacket or parka
- Warm, Puffy jacket for on deck
- Alan’s was from North Face; mine from Lands End
- Comfortable pants for on the boat
- I wore yoga pants & Alan wore some lightweight climbing pants he has for rock climbing
- Fleece pullover
- These used to be available for free to passengers, but it looks like they are now only available for rent. I recommend bringing your own, especially if you have odd sized feet or need a particular type of shoe because theirs are pretty generic. I have small feet and large calves, plus feet problems, so I brought my own and added gel inserts to them. Every single hike we went on, I wore those boots instead of the Keens I’d brought along. Make no mistake about it, these shoes are a necessity, whether you bring your own or use theirs.
- Neck warmer
- Knit cap or other beanie
- Comfortable shoes for walking around your beginning/ending ports
- Rain cover for camera & lens!
- I cannot stress this one enough. My new Nikon D3300 was destroyed during our hike to Baird Glacier when it became waterlogged. I did not think I would need a camera cover but I was so, so wrong.
- Water socks for kayaking
- Smartwool socks
- Neoprene kayaking gloves
- We bought ours in Sitka the day before the cruise. Alan used his extensively but I didn’t really use mine that much.
Things you absolutely do not need an an Alaskan expedition cruise:
- Anything fancy
If there’s something you think I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments section and I’ll be sure to update the list accordingly. Also, if you have any additional questions about items you should bring, please do not hesitate to ask.