On an Alaskan resort cruise, activities center on shipboard and ports-of-call excursions. Alaskan cruises lean toward the casual, but many cruises still hold formal nights that require proper dress. You should check with your cruise agent about any particular clothing requirements.
Alaska's cruise season runs from May through September, with temperatures fluctuating from 30 to 70 degrees F, but a 90-degree day is not unheard of. It will rain during your cruise, but snow is unlikely. Layering is your best plan for everyday activities, so pack light-, medium- and heavy-weight clothing.
Your basic casual clothing should include jeans, slacks or trousers, sweaters, jogging or sweat suits, long-sleeved shirts, flannel shirts and a hooded sweatshirt, flannel vest or ski jacket. Take a pair of shorts or capris and a couple of T-shirts (or wear the souvenir T-shirts you buy during the trip) in case the weather warms up, and a bathing suit (most liners have indoor pools).
All Alaskan cruisers should be prepared for rain and cool weather. You will be spending a lot of time out on deck. Your outerwear should include a waterproof jacket, windbreaker, sweatshirt or rain parka, a wool or fleece sweater or jacket liner and a long-sleeve shirt or turtleneck.
What to Wear at Formal Dinners
While some Alaskan cruises are more casual than others, some people do wear tuxes and long gowns on "Captain's Gala" night, or when they are invited to dine at the captain's table. Dress as you would for a wedding, with cocktail dresses, gowns or dressy suits for women and tuxedos, suits or blazers and dress pants, white shirts and ties for men. Tuxedos can be rented on-board.
What to Wear at Non-formal Meals
Except for the Captain's Gala, meals in the formal dining room are "smart casual" attire, or what you would wear at a nice restaurant. It includes dresses, skirts or slacks, sweaters or blouses for women, open-neck shirts and pants for men, with jacket and tie optional. You can, however, dress in jeans or more casual wear in the less-casual restaurants on board.
The importance of comfortable, broken-in footwear cannot be overemphasized. You will need low-heeled shoes for on-board activities, walking shoes and rubber-soled sandals for shore excursions, shoes suitable for wet conditions, hiking boots if you plan to hike or climb and one pair of dress shoes to match your evening attire. Don't forget a pair of slippers or flip-flops to wear in your cabin, and good warm socks.
Pack clothing that is versatile. A man's blazer can be worn on formal nights with a good shirt and tie and dress pants, or matched with an open-neck shirt and khakis, jeans or slacks for an informal night. A woman's formal skirt can be mixed and matched with different blouses and jackets, and her blouses and jackets can be matched with jeans or slacks for formal and informal looks. Be frugal with your packing; you can always buy what you forget during the cruise. Many ships do have coin-op laundries, ironing facilities and dry cleaning available.
Don't forget these odds and ends: underwear, sleepwear and robe, light gloves, a hat or visor and sunglasses. An umbrella will be needed, and binoculars are a must. And don't forget your camera, extra chips or film and batteries.