I’ve talked at length about how I like to pack light for a cruise. But packing light is less challenging for a weekend cruise to Baja than it is for, say, a seven-night cruise to Alaska’s Inside Passage.
For starters, the weather in Alaska is highly unpredictable. One day, there’s a downpour; the next, it’s sunny and 75°F. Furthermore, you’ll be in so many different situations: active outdoorsy excursions, casual days at sea, formal meals in the main dining room. With such a wide variety of clothing necessities, how is anyone supposed to pack everything in a carry-on?
The answer: by using a capsule wardrobe.
That’s exactly what I did for my cruise to Alaska earlier this summer. If you’re not sure what to pack for your Alaska cruise capsule wardrobe, or you don’t know how to create an effective capsule wardrobe for cruising, allow me to show you exactly what I packed.
My Seven-Night Alaska Cruise Itinerary
Here’s the itinerary I was planning my capsule wardrobe for:
June 27th – July 4th
- Day 1: Seattle
- Day 2: At Sea
- Day 3: Icy Strait Point
- Day 4: Skagway
- Day 5: Juneau
- Day 6: At Sea
- Day 7: Victoria, B.C.
- Day 8: Seattle
We planned to go hiking and whale watching in Icy Strait Point, ride the White Pass Railroad in Skagway, go dog sledding in Juneau, and have an afternoon tea at the Abkhazi Garden in Victoria. We also planned to spend an entire day sightseeing in Seattle after the cruise was over, since our flight home wasn’t until very late that evening.
My Capsule Wardrobe Packing Strategy
I decided to break my capsule wardrobe into three major categories:
- Casual Wear. This would be for onboard activities during sea days, or excursions that were more laidback and less active, like the train ride or the tea.
- Outdoor Gear. Odds were, we’d experience some rain on our journey, especially on outdoorsy excursions, so it was important to include some outerwear to keep me warm and dry.
- Evening Wear. I wanted to dress up a little for dinner. I wasn’t going for full-on formal nights; the feel on Alaska cruises isn’t quite black tie, plus it’s becoming less popular these days on cruises in general. But I still wanted to feel fancy. (Side note: there were people who opted to stick to super formal attire, and they were awesome. So if you feel like packing the sequins and tuxedos, go for it! It’s your vacation. You do you!)
An important note when you’re planning your Alaska cruise capsule wardrobe: Cruise itineraries in Alaska are as varied as the region’s daily weather forecast, so it’s important to plan your outfits around your specific cruise itinerary.
For example, a longer trip might mean you bring more clothes, and if you’re going earlier or later in the season, you might want to pack a super warm coat. But hopefully this information will give you a jumping-off point for your own Alaska cruise wardrobe ideas.
The Alaska Cruise Capsule Wardrobe
So, here’s what I eventually packed.
- Five t-shirts. Simple, no-frills, lightweight t-shirts. They were perfect for walking around town on sunny days, but also provided a great base for layering during colder weather. (I wore these during my active excursions, too.)
- Three pairs of pants. I settled for a pair of gray jeans, a pair of light pink jeans, and a pair of pull-on elastic-waisted brown pants. I could mix-and-match them with pretty much any shirt.
- A chambray button down. This is so versatile, it should be a staple of any capsule wardrobe. Great for layering over t-shirts or wearing on its own.
- A cardigan. A must-have for chilly nights (or days!) on the ship.
- White Converse sneakers. These are a classic, comfy, go-with-everything choice.
- A fleece vest. Fleece vests are perfect for layering. Loved wearing this in the chilly early mornings, then taking it off and packing it in my excursion bag when the sun came out.
- A light packable rain jacket. I was so happy to have packed this while we were in Victoria; it rained the whole evening, and this kept me dry.
- Water-resistant hiking pants. I got these Little Donkey Andy convertible pants. The legs zipped off to become shorts, just in case I needed shorts on my trip. (I didn’t, but it was nice to have that option.)
- Waterproof hiking shoes. These La Sportiva waterproof shoes were so great and so comfy. I wore them on air travel days, on our dog sledding tour, and on a long sightseeing day in Seattle.
- Three casual dresses. I opted for casual dresses because they packed well; I could roll them without worrying too much about wrinkles. The Aviana Dress and the Niccola Crochet Dress from XCVI are the perfect little black dresses for a trip to Alaska. To dress them up, I used nice accessories, like jewelry and…
- A chunky gold belt. This turned my simple casual dresses into something much snazzier.
- Two pairs of flats. Flats took up so little space in my carry on. Plus, they were so much easier to walk around in than heels. My favorite go-to flats are Rothy’s; I packed them in two colors: gold and black. (Want your own pair of Rothy’s? Use my discount code here to get $20 off your first purchase!)
Packing for an Alaska Cruise: Capsule Wardrobe or No?
What do you think: have I taken my type-A organizational packing strategies too far with this Alaska cruise capsule wardrobe? Or have you found inspiration in my fashion flatlays? Let me know your Alaska cruise wardrobe ideas in the comments!
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