ORVIS GUIDE TO ADVENTURE
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR ALASKAN ADVENTURE CRUISE
The key to packing for your small ship adventure cruise in Alaska is expecting the best but preparing for the worst. And to further refine this bit of wisdom, think in “peelable” layers: start with a warm base layer, pile on fleece mid layers, and finish with a waterproof and breathable outer shell. Temperatures can be downright cold in the middle of summer, or chilly in the morning but warm considerably as the day wears on. And even in the “shoulder” months of May and September, when the average high temperature runs about 10°F cooler than it does in high summer, days can be toasty. Downpours are more likely in August and September, but the smart Alaska traveler is prepared for rain any time during the May-to-September cruising season.
And while your travel wardrobe should be warm, it need not be stuffy: your small ship adventure cruise in Alaska is not a formal affair. Leave your dressy clothing at home, along with your expensive jewelry—you won’t need it. You’ll spend long days observing Alaska’s natural beauty and wildlife, and exploring the pristine wilderness. For the balance of your cruise you’ll enjoy the company of your fellow adventurers in an intimate setting aboard the ship: nobody expects you to wear a blazer or a cocktail dress while you swap stories of the day’s excursions in the cruise ship’s cozy salon.
This handy packing list includes the requisites, but adjust it according to your own preferences and when you decide to go.
Essentials - Clothing & Accessories
ABOUT ALASKA'S MENACING MOSQUITOES
Bugs get a bum rap in Alaska, especially the notoriously large mosquitoes there: most of Alaska’s 35 mosquito species in fact find humans delicious. They can be bothersome from the second week in June until the last week in July, so be prepared if you cruise during that window. If your adventure plans take you out and about at dawn or twilight when mosquitoes tend to congregate most heavily, protect yourself:
Bug repellent with DEET in about a 30-40% concentration is your best bet; buy a pump and not an aerosol to avoid confiscation by airport security. And take heart: the bugs in Alaska are never as bad as you think they’ll be.
Let comfort guide your footwear choices for an Alaska cruise. Hiking shoes or boots can be low tops or mid boots (even waterproof sandals for some environs), but choose closed-toe high tops for excursions that take you deep into the forest away from the beach. And make sure the soles of the shoes you pack can handle a wet ship deck.
Optional – Gear
CRUISING ALASKA WITH KIDS: SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS
A small ship adventure cruise in Alaska can be a great venue for a multi-generational family gathering, including the young ones. But it’s chiefly up to you—not the cruise company—to keep the “littles” occupied, on the plane and on the boat. Small ship entertainment is not the glossy affair you’ll find on a large cruise ship, which is part of the appeal of an intimate ship navigating Alaska’s Inside Passage in the first place: it’s a great opportunity for your kids to disconnect from their devices and connect with other people, and with nature. But be prepared for rainy days in tight quarters, and possibly a day or two to adjust to life without the usual “creature comforts.”
A Special Packing List for Kids (and Their Parents)
Pack your children’s outerwear, clothing, and toiletries as you would your own, but consider also packing rubber boots or galoshes: Alaska can be muddy, but exploring the muddy landscape with the right equipment can be fun. And throw a few chemical hand warmers into your bag: tucked inside mittens or gloves, they can keep little fingers toasty and warm during chilly onshore excursions.
PARTING TRAVEL TIPS FOR CRUISING ALASKA
Alaska can be warm and sunny during cruise season, or unseasonably cold—even if cold temperatures were not in the forecast. Cover all the bases: think of your small ship adventure cruise as a summer vacation that still nods respectfully to winter, and pack accordingly. Make your comfort a foregone conclusion so you can enjoy this unforgettable experience aboard a small cruise ship in Alaska.
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