The Alaska shoulder season continues to expand due to warming weather. Alaska cruises now depart as soon as early-April and as late as the end of October. Alaska weather during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall can rapidly change, so it is important to have the proper clothing. Weather conditions included pouring rain, sunny and warm, sunny and cold, and overcast and drizzly. Early spring and late fall can also experience snow. And with conditions like these, you need to plan for the unexpected.
On my recent cruise to Alaska on the Holland America Westerdam in September, I experienced a variety of weather conditions. I wore everything from shorts to bundled up layers. Here are some suggestions of what to pack for the ever-changing weather in Alaska.
My trip aboard the Holland America Westerdam was a hosted press trip. All opinions and product recommendations are my own.
When packing for a trip like this, think layers. A lightweight, waterproof rain jacket is the most critical component for varying weather conditions. Onboard a ship, it can act as a windbreaker when walking the outdoor decks. It will keep you dry when it rains. With additional layers, it can be a coat if the temperatures drop. I love Columbia rain jackets. I live in the Pacific Northwest and we get a lot of rain. The Columbia Company is based out of Oregon, and they know how to keep you dry. My jacket is similar to the Columbia Women’s Arcadia li Jacket. It is air-permeable and waterproof, keeping you dry with a breathable fabric. It is also light, packable, and can fold small enough to fit into a pocket.
I am in love with the Lemon Citronella Repellent Stick. This lemony fresh stick with notes of citronella kept the bugs off me on a recent trip to California. I brought it with me on the cruise, but luckily, we didn’t encounter Alaska’s infamous mosquitoes. For a spring cruise, bug repellent is a must-pack item. This cute tube is easily packable without the leakage you normally get with insect spray. The smell is just divine and with no DEET it is a healthy way to keep the bugs away. The tubes it comes in are 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable. It glides on easily and you just apply it to your pulse points, neck, wrists, inside of elbows, and back of knees. It drives me crazy when a mosquito buzzes around my ear. I just dab a bit on my lobe and no annoying buzzing sounds.
Broken Top Brands sent me a sample to review as well as one of their candles and some outdoor incense cones. Affton Coffelt-Shouse started her company out of her tiny kitchen in Bend, Oregon. Broken Top Brands has grown sustainable, eco-conscious products that are still affordable, free of parabens, phthalates, gluten, cruelty-free, and vegan. My opinions are my own.
After my last cruise, my hands were a dry, peeling mess from all the hand sanitizer. Even with moisturizing, my hands were still dry. My friend Kimberlee Cavin saw lots of rave reviews on this product and started carrying it in her store, Pine and Moss. Touchland Power Mist Citrus Grove is a game changer. It is easy to see why this hydrating hand sanitizer has such a cult following. It is super hydrating and absorbs quickly into your skin. I love that the spray is just the right amount.
How many times have you used a pump hand sanitizer only to have it dripping down your hands? It comes in a cute container that fits in your purse. It looks small but holds 500 sprays. It’s also TSA-approved. The product smells great. It comes in a variety of scents, but I love the scent “citrus grove” because of its clean aroma of juicy orange, peach nectar, and warm orange blossoms. I grew up in Orlando when there were still orange groves, so each spray brings back happy memories. Ingredients such as aloe vera and essential oils keep your hands from drying out. Touchland Power Mist won a 2020 Allure Magazine Beauty Award.
Leggings are the perfect clothing item to pack on a cruise. They don’t take up as much space and easily roll to pack. They don’t wrinkle and can be dressed up or down depending on your top and accessories. Chicos has a great selection of leggings perfect for travel and some that can be dressed up with their longer tops and tunics. I packed all the black ones because they go with everything. I also find leggings work for me during the in-between seasons where one moment is hot and the next cold. Athletic leggings tend to be more breathable, which is perfect when hiking the beautiful trails in Alaska. If it turns extremely cold, you can always wear two pairs for a layering, insulating effect.
The one thing I didn’t pack on my trip that I wished I had was a set of binoculars. There were so many things I would have liked a closer view such as the bald eagles in Sitka or the calving ice from the Hubbard Glacier. When planning what to pack for your cruise, check to see what is included in your cabin. Some cruise lines provide binoculars for your use.
Make sure to pack a swimsuit. I also like to bring my Oka-B Loren Flip Flops. The straps lie flat against your feet to prevent chafing and they’re so versatile. I wear it to and from the spa and when my feet swell after being on my feet all day. They are also cute enough to wear in the evening. Whenever I cruise Holland America, I always purchase a thermal suite pass. It gives you access to the thalassotherapy pool and the thermal suite with heated loungers and steam rooms. The number of passes is limited, so it is never crowded. There is nothing like a soak in the hot, bubbling pool after a rainy day exploring. I was surprised to see people using the outdoor pools during my cruise. They were heated, but it was a little too chilly for me.
My water bottle of choice is a Hydro Flask. It is well-insulated and keeps beverages cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. The Hydro Flask has a flex strap which makes it easy to carry. A reusable bottle helps use less plastic. I like to have water when I am hiking and exploring. I also like to bring water back to my room. The leak-proof lid is perfect in rough seas.
The key to successful packing on an Alaska cruise is to plan for changing weather conditions and bring versatile items. Make sure to check the dress code for your ship and itinerary. On the Holland America Alaska Cruise I took, the daily schedule listed evening attire as casual, dressy, or formal. On our 7-day cruise, we had two dressy nights but there was not an evening that required formal attire. Most of the guests dressed how they liked, and it seemed that everyone had a different definition of dressy. I have found Facebook groups for different cruise ships or cruise lines. They are a great way to find answers to your questions. Bon voyage and happy packing.
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