Tips for First-Time Alaska Cruisers

| September 16, 2011

Planning a cruise to Alaska is not the same as planning a cruise to the warmer destinations such as the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. A cruise here is sure to live long in the memory, but it is vital that you thoroughly prepare yourself and have an idea of what to expect from the whole experience.

Clothing & Accessories

Although most parts of Alaska possess an Arctic climate, it is vital that you do not get caught out by the irregular sunshine. We would advise using some kind of sun protection lotion daily. As well as using lotion to protect you from the sun, you will also require an insect repellent, as mosquito’s are very common in Alaska. Other necessary accessories we would advise taking along include the fundamentals such as cameras, binoculars and sunglasses.

In terms of clothing, we recommend taking a variety of clothes that you can layer, such as sweatshirts and jackets. A waterproof raincoat is ideal, given that it can be folded down into almost nothing. Those who are especially susceptible to sunshine should travel with some kind of hat or cap. Alaska is a less formal destination than some of it’s cruising counterparts, so do not hesitate to keep your selections simple and casual. Dress codes for formal nights at dinner may vary, so we advise checking with the cruise line.


As mentioned before, although it has an Arctic climate, weather conditions in Alaska can fluctuate wildly. The popular city of Ketchikan gets 333 inches of rain every year, so be prepared for some inclement weather, although it wouldn’t be too atypical to experience a full-week of sunshine. With Alaska being situated so far north, the sun rises much earlier and sets much later than what you may be accustomed to.  Throughout the months of June & July, Alaska experiences extremely long hours of daylight. Nonetheless, days can be chilly, warm, rainy, snowy or sunny, so do not get caught short.

Shore Excursions

Shore Excursions in Alaska, as amazing as they are, tend to be slightly expensive. However, to see Alaska at its finest and to have the most fun, a shore excursion is usually neccessary. The sole Alaskan port with anything that’s worth seeing in the town itself is Sitka, and even there you’ll want to do other things. (Please note: If you decide to go exploring and sightseeing on your own, you become responsible for getting yourself back to the ship on time. Failure to do so will result in you being left behind! So be sure to make a note of the port agent’s contact information, and allow a sufficient amount of time to make your way back.)

Money can be saved when using the Internet to find locals who are willing to take you on less-formal, less-expensive tours. These are popular among visitors who are searching for a more hands-on traditional Alaskan experience. If you booked via one of the many last minute cruise deals available, then you can always arrange tours on board the cruise ship.

Written Ellis Green of, A UK cruise company specialising in Alaska Cruise deals and cruise and maritime voyages

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Category: Cruise Travel, Travel

Comments (1)

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  1. Deena says:

    I definitely agree that shore excursions are a must. They are indeed expensive, but so worth it. One thing that I did that was worth every penny was to take a helicopter ride over the Mendenhall Glacier and then a glacier trek. It was a once in a lifetime experience. The hardest thing is just picking one excursion at each port because there are so many great options.