Five Things to Know Before You Cruise to Alaska

Sponsored by Princess Cruises

A cruise to Alaska is always exhilarating. The wild and beautiful coast is framed by rugged mountain peaks and dense forests where waterfalls tumble and wildlife roams.

On shore, you can venture into the wilderness, experience indigenous cultures and learn about the historic port towns of this vast and magnificent state. Making the most of every moment on board a Princess® Alaska cruise and on land is part of this epic experience, which is why we’re sharing our must know tips.

If you can, reserve a stateroom with a balcony

Alaska’s scenery is absolutely breathtaking. If your budget allows, reserve a stateroom that has a balcony – it will be well worth the cost. True, you can always go out on deck and find a space along the rail to view the scenery.

But, it’s a delightful treat to step out on a private balcony, snuggle up in a sweater or blanket with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa, and watch the icebergs float by. To secure a balcony stateroom make your cruise reservation as early as possible.

Book your excursions early

Alaska is a destination where organized shore excursions can truly enhance the cruise experience. If you’d like to venture beyond the quaint sidewalks of Ketchikan, Sitka or Skagway, an excursion is the best way to experience things that would be more difficult to arrange on your own.

Imagine flying in a float plane to a remote, mirror-like lake where you can fish the day away; or, trekking on a glacier where you can ride behind a team of sled dogs. Princess offers Discovery™ and Animal Planet ™ Exclusive Tours, unique shore excursions that cannot be booked independently and well worth the experience.

These options and more are easy to arrange via Princess’ Cruise Personalizer: make your reservations as early as possible to ensure your place, as these excursions will be very popular with your fellow passengers, too.

Invest in a pair of waterproof hiking shoes 

This is a top recommendation from experienced Alaska cruisers. Shore excursions can take you over some rough and muddy terrain, so it’s good to wear sturdy shoes that are also waterproof. They may also come in handy when you’re on an open deck, which can get a bit slippery from rain or ocean spray.

Be prepared for a wide range of temperatures

Cruising to this most northern of states is limited to the warmer months of May through September. Daytime can be quite warm – even downright hot – with temperatures in the 70s and 80s. However, some days the temperature tops out in the 50s, and the air always cools down in the evening.

We’re not suggesting that you bring lots of bulky sweaters: that would take too much room in your suitcase. Instead, pack things that you can layer for warmth when needed, and take off and stow in your stateroom or bag when the temperature rises. For example, comfortable jeans with a t-shirt and a fine-gauge wool sweater, topped by a fleece jacket, should set you up well for most days. Pack a waterproof jacket, as summer brings some rainy days to Alaska; many people like to bring an umbrella, too. It may seem odd for a summer cruise, but you’ll be glad to have a warm hat, gloves and socks when you get up close and personal with one of Alaska’s glaciers.

Finally, don’t forget some “resort casual” clothes – chinos, button down shirts, informal dresses – for evening.

Bring sunscreen, insect repellent and your swim suit

If these items seem more suited to a Caribbean cruise than your Alaska voyage, trust us. When the sun shines and reflects off the water and the glaciers, you can easily get sunburn on unprotected skin. You’ll also want your sunglasses!

As for the insect repellent, Alaska is home to more than 50 types of mosquitoes. Bring your repellent along on shore excursions and reapply it as needed to keep the stinging pests away. Finally, while you won’t want to immerse yourself in the icy waters of the Inside Passage, bring your swim suit so that you can enjoy swimming in the ship’s pool or soaking in a hot tub after a day of onshore activities.

Experience more of the world, discover new places and create new memories with a cruise vacation. Click here to find a cruise travel specialist to help plan your perfect getaway.