Deciding what to wear while on an Alaskan cruise depends on the region to which you plan to travel. With a little knowledge about climate and temperature, you can make smart decisions on your choice of apparel.
What to wear in Alaska depends on the zone you are visiting. Alaska, in May, ranges in temperature depending on the regional zone. Alaska is divided into four separate climate zones: The Southern Zone, Southeastern Coastal Zone, Southwestern Zone, and the North Arctic Zone. The temperature in the Southern Zone in May averages 54F during the day and 39F during the night. The South Eastern Coastal and the Southwestern Zones share the same average temperature, with days averaging 55F, and nights averaging 38F in May. However, the Southeastern Zone receives about nine inches of rainfall in May, while the Southwestern Zone receives little to zero rainfall in May. It is not uncommon for these two regions to reach into the 70's. The North Arctic Zone in May averages at about 24F. The nights regularly drop in to the teens, and in some occasions, the temperature drops below zero.
What to Wear When Outside
The best advice for deciding what to pack is to think in terms of variety. Alaska's climate in May, as previously shown, is varied. In your suitcase, pack clothes suitable for all temperatures. In case of a warm day, pack a lightweight pair of pants with either a t-shirt or a thin, long sleeved shirt. Windbreakers are important items to bring on a cruise to Alaska. The thin jacket provides warmth in moderate temperature, and helps to keep wind from penetrating your clothes. Bringing several pairs of warm pants is important as when on port calls you need to stay warm while traversing some of Alaska's major ports. Layering shirts (shirts that can easily be worn under or over other shirts) are important as they provide extra warmth in cold temperatures. For entering the frigid parts of Alaska, pack a winter coat, gloves, and a wool hat. You may not be able to remain outside for long in the North Arctic Zone, but having these warm clothes and accessories will provide you with warmth during your time out in the below freezing temperatures. Because the Southeastern Zone receives so much rainfall, packing a raincoat and umbrella is highly advised.
What to Wear on the Cruise Ship
When onboard, you usually won't have to bundle up in heavy winter gear. For the time spent on the cruise ship, pack jeans, comfortable pants, and lightweight shirts. Bring some lightweight pajamas and thick winter oriented sleepwear. Cruise ships are known for having formal dinner parties and access to these parties is only permitted to guests dressed in cocktail attire. Men should pack a suit and tie with dress shoes. A tuxedo is not required but is an acceptable form of attire for cruise dinner parties. Women should pack a cocktail dress, dressy shoes, and formal, dinner party appropriate accessories.