Alaska Cruise in August – Tips – Outfits

This guide has two sections:


If you are only interested in the outfit guide for August, please skip the section with the ten tips and scroll all the way down. However, we highly recommend reading our tips as they will make your cruise 10x better!

Personal Guidebook Tip

Whether you have already picked out your cruise or haven’t booked so yet, this book is a must-buy! It provides awesome tips, the differences between the ships, highlights in each port, and so much more.

If you are planning a cruise during a different month, read our Alaska Cruise Outfit Guide for May, June, July, August, and September.

💡 Good to know: The following 7 tips apply to every cruise month, not only August. However, the outfit tips in the second section are tailored specifically for August!


These are our 7 crucial Alaska cruise tips you should know before embarking on your unforgettable journey. Heading to Alaska on a cruise is an exciting adventure, filled with stunning sights and unique experiences.

Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned traveler, preparing properly can make a huge difference in your enjoyment. From packing the right clothes to planning your excursions, every detail counts.

Let’s dive into these tips to ensure your Alaska cruise is everything you’ve dreamed of and more.

💡 Important: After we cover the 7 essential tips for your cruise, we’ll dive into outfit advice to keep you comfortable and stylish throughout your journey

1. Bring Binoculars | Highly Recommended
You’ll be surrounded by nature’s beauty throughout your cruise. Thus, a pair of good binoculars will make a huge difference!

💡 Please, do not leave without binoculars! You’ll thank us later, we promise!

When you’re on an Alaska cruise, having binoculars is like holding a magic key that unlocks distant wonders. With them, you can zoom in on the breathtaking details of glaciers, spotting the brilliant blues and intricate patterns that are invisible to the naked eye.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars for Adults and Kids - Large Eyepiece Waterproof...
  • 【HIGH-POWERED LARGE EYEPIECE BINOCULARS】 This binoculars for adults has 12x magnification, 25mm objective lens...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Binoculars 15x25 for Adults,Waterproof Binoculars with Low Light Night Vision,...
  • Binoculars 15x25 ,this binoculars has 15x magnification, 25mm objective lens and wide field of view, 399t/1200yds...
SaleBestseller No. 3
15x52 HD Binoculars for Adults High Powered with Upgraded Phone Adapter - Large...
  • 🐧【𝟏𝟓𝐱 𝐇𝐢𝐠𝐡-𝐏𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐁𝐢𝐧𝐨𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐬:...

Wildlife, from majestic eagles soaring in the sky to playful seals lounging on ice floes, comes into clear view, making every sighting more thrilling. Imagine catching the subtle movements of a bear along the shoreline or a whale’s splash in the distance; binoculars bring these moments close, as if nature’s spectacle is unfolding just for you.

So, packing binoculars turns your cruise into an unforgettable adventure, where every glance through the lenses reveals the awe-inspiring beauty and mystery of Alaska’s wild landscapes and creatures.

2.  Have the Essentials in Your Carry-On Bag

It’s crucial to strategically pack a carry-on bag with essential items you’ll need immediately on board. Since checked bags are typically delivered to your cabin later in the afternoon or even post-dinner, having a carry-on filled with necessities is a wise move.

Ensure all crucial items such as medications, travel documents, passports, and cruise tickets are safely stored in this bag. If you have specific dietary needs, consider packing some snacks as well.

While most cruise lines plan formal events from the second night onward, it wouldn’t hurt to include a versatile outfit in your carry-on that could transition from day to night.

An extra-special tip for Alaskan cruises: since daylight hours are significantly extended during the summer, consider packing a sleep mask in your carry-on. It will help you adjust to the ‘midnight sun’ phenomenon and ensure a good night’s sleep.

Properly organizing your carry-on bag ensures you start your journey without any hiccups, keeping the focus on the awe-inspiring landscapes and unique experiences that await you in Alaska.

3. Book Cruise Line AND Independent Excursions

Many of the excursions offered by the cruise line are great, and we recommend booking one of these.

However, you should also book at least one independent one as you will save money and tour with a smaller group. 💡 The ship will discourage you from doing this, as excursions are a big moneymaker for the cruise line. Often, their primary argument is that the ship will wait for their own tours if they return late, but not for independent ones.

However, this is not a valid reason if you a) don’t book a long tour (more than 4 hours) and b) use a provider like GetYourGuide, where you usually have 24-hour penalty-free cancellation.

Must-Do in Juneau: Whale Watching
Powered by GetYourGuide

This tour is fantastic! And there is one big advantage: You get off your ship and you are right there where the tour starts. The duration is only 3.5 hours, so it’s safe to book it.

Again, the advantages of booking an independent tour, for example via GetYourGuide:

Smaller Groups:

  • Joining a third-party tour often means being in a smaller group, unlike the large numbers that fill cruise line tours.
  • You could find yourself in a group of less than 20 people or even just your own private group.
  • This smaller setting makes it easier to ask questions and customize your day with activities that suit you, like special stops for pictures or activities for kids.
  • You can change the pace to suit your group, making the experience more tailored to what you want to see and do.

Significantly Cheaper/Better Value:

  • Booking directly with tour providers will save you money or offer more value than the same tours offered by cruise lines.
  • While small-group or private tours might initially seem more expensive than cruise ship excursions, they provide greater value by allowing customization and more direct sightseeing time, with less waiting for others.
  • Cost-sharing with a group can make these private tours more affordable per person, enhancing the overall experience without breaking the bank.

Booking an excursion independently while on an Alaska cruise offers personalized experiences, more adventurous activities, unique explorations, and better value for your money.

4. Bring a Seasickness Remedy
MQ Motion Sickness Patch,10 Count,Non Drowsy Sea Sickness Patches Behind Ear for...
  • SAFE AND EFFECTIVE - 100% Natural Herb, without side effects and causing drowsiness

This advice may seem odd advice, especially for first-timers who’ve never experienced seasickness before, but it’s always better to be prepared than be caught off guard.

Seasickness, or motion sickness, is caused by the constant motion of the ship, which can disrupt your inner ear’s sense of balance. Even if you’ve never felt ill on smaller boats or car trips, a cruise ship’s unique movement might affect you differently. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to nausea, dizziness, and in rare cases, vomiting.

Weather patterns in Alaska can be unpredictable, sometimes causing rougher seas, and you never know how your body might react. Moreover, it’s not just about being on the ship. Excursions, like smaller boat trips to see glaciers or wildlife, can also be a trigger.

If the captain announces that we’re heading into bad weather I immediately take my seasickness medicine and then I’m fine.

By packing seasickness medication, you’re safeguarding your enjoyment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. These remedies come in various forms, from over-the-counter pills like Dramamine to prescription patches, natural remedies like ginger tablets, or even acupressure wristbands.

It’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider on what might work best for you.

5. Research Your Ship

For us, it usually takes a couple of days until we learn the ins and outs of a new ship. Many passengers I talk to are overwhelmed at first and it takes a while to figure everything out.

I always suggest studying the ship you’re on prior to the cruise and compiling a list on your phone with details. For example which restaurants are specialty and complimentary, and checking if you need to book dining and show appointments.

The more research you can do ahead of the cruise, the less time you will waste within the first days of the cruise.

Embarkation Day: As soon as you board the ship, especially if you embark early, remember your cabin might not be ready yet, so it’s a great time to roam the ship and familiarize yourself!

If you embark on your Alaska cruise around noon, your cabin might not be ready until 2-3 PM, so brace yourself for this.

Occasionally, you might be able to head straight to your cabin upon embarkation, but this isn’t standard. Considering the previous guests would have vacated the cabins only around 8 am, the crew doesn’t have

6. Don’t Pack a Hair Dryer and Towels

Bringing a hair dryer on your Alaska cruise isn’t necessary due to the amenities provided on most modern cruise ships. Cruise ship cabins typically come equipped with a hair dryer for passengers’ use, saving you the hassle of packing one.

Packing your own towels is also not required and here’s why: Cruise lines provide ample towels for their passengers. In your cabin, you’ll find towels for showering, and additional ones are supplied for use at the pool or when going ashore for the beach or water-based excursions.

Thus, bringing your own hair dryer or towels would merely consume precious luggage space and add unnecessary weight to your baggage.

7. Essential Tips for Embarkation Day

Embarkation day on a cruise is the first day of your voyage when everyone boards the ship. It’s a day full of anticipation and excitement, as you check in, explore the ship’s amenities, and settle into your cabin, ready to start your cruising adventure.

Embarkation Day Tip 1: Allocate Enough Time

Consider reaching the port a day earlier if possible. Traveling to the port on embarkation day can be done, but it tends to be stressful.

I have personally traveled to ports and boarded a ship on the same day, a scenario I wouldn’t recommend, but under certain circumstances, it can be fine.

However, if you do have a choice, I suggest arriving at the port the night before you embark on your Alaska cruise. The last thing you’d want is to kick-start your journey with stress.

Living within a few hours of the port might eliminate the need for this, but do ensure you have sufficient time to make the journey.

Embarkation Day Tip 2: Expect a Waiting Line

It’s undoubtedly important to arm yourself with patience for an Alaska cruise.

Embarkation can resemble the process at an airport, so expect to wait in line for check-in or security.

Tip: Maintain no expectations, stay prepared, and relax. It’s vacation time.

Embarkation Day Tip 3: Prepare to Undergo Security Checks

The first time we went on an Alaska cruise, we were surprised that the ship security is almost the same as in an airport. Be prepared that your luggage and your body will be scanned.

Upon arriving at the port, you’ll have to pass through security. Cruise lines scan for any potentially dangerous items or prohibited articles.

The policy regarding carrying alcohol onboard is diverse and complicated. While some cruise lines permit a certain quantity of alcohol, others forbid it entirely.

Embarkation Day Tip 4: Choose The Main Restaurant

Very few people are aware of this great tip:

Upon embarkation, most people head for the buffet or the pool, both of which can get quite crowded.

On many cruises, the main dining room also opens for lunch, allowing you to start your cruise in a more relaxed manner.



First, let’s give you an overview of what you should bring on your cruise in August, as well as other summer months.

If you are planning a cruise during a different month, read our Alaska Cruise Outfit Guide for May, June, July, August, and September.

You wear layers and waterproof or water-resistant clothing items. Outfits like fleece jackets, sweaters, hoodies, and thermal layers keep you warm on colder days, for example, when approaching a glacier or in the morning. On warm summer days, t-shirts and pants or jeans are appropriate.


You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you don’t like the weather here, just wait five minutes.” Well, they were talking about Alaska!

Alaska’s weather can change quickly, so be prepared. As the temperature fluctuates, layering lets you adjust your comfort.

Most first-time passengers make the mistake of not packing enough layers. Even in August layering is crucial as it can get chilly, depending on the location and the time of day.

Wear lightweight long underwear or leggings. Depending on the time of day, insulate with a fleece or sweater, then cover with a rain jacket. This combination will keep you warm and dry.

Women’s Outer Layer
Bestseller No. 1
Outdoor Ventures Women's Lightweight Waterproof Fleece Lined Hooded Softshell...
  • Water Repellent & Windproof & Breathable: Outer fabric is treated to repel water while maintain breathability....
Bestseller No. 2
33,000ft Women's Softshell Jacket, Fleece Lined Warm Jacket Light Hooded...
  • 【3 - Layered Professional Fabric】The outer soft shell of womens fleece lined jacket is made of 96% Polyester,...

Good to know: Every port sells fleece-lined, waterproof jackets in case you didn’t bring warm enough outer layers. These also make great souvenirs as they are usually reasonably priced.

Every time we went on a cruise, we were glad to have layers of clothing, as we could easily remove or add layers as needed when temps changed.

Women’s Outer Layer Lightweight Alternative Tips
SaleBestseller No. 1
Women Rain Jacket Belted Adjustment Hooded Long Lightweight Packable Outerwear...
  • MATERIAL: 100% Polyester Waterproof Material With Striped Cotton Lined, Breathable, Soft Touch, Windproof, Easy To...
Bestseller No. 2
RAINFREEM Rain jackets for Women Waterproof Raincoat with Hood Hiking Coat...
  • Upgrade Waterproof and Windproof Material:This raincoat is made with 100% Polyurethane waterproof fabric with...

💡 If you pack warm enough middle layers (fleece jacket/hoodies) and base layers (t-shirts, long sleeves), you may use a more lightweight outer layer, like a raincoat, instead of a warm jacket (see above).

Especially during a typically warmer August, you can skip the heavy winter jacket.

Women’s Middle Layer Tips
SaleBestseller No. 1
Columbia Women's Benton Springs Full Zip, Black, Large
  • SOFT FABRIC: This Columbia Women's Benton Springs Full Zip fleece is crafted of soft 100% polyester MTR filament...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Columbia Women's Fast Trek II Jacket, City Grey Heather/City Grey, Large
  • STYLISH WARMTH: A soft, light fleece with a flattering fit and streamlined design; this seasonless layer will keep...

Fleece layers are essential for us, we love them on Alaska cruises. We always bring a fleece zip-up jacket and a zip-up hoodie.

Layering Example 1
  1. Light Raincoat (Amazon Link)
  2. Zip-up fleece jacket (Amazon Link)
  3. Light Sweatshirt
  4. T-shirt
Layering Example 2: Summer Months
  1. Fleece-Lined Hooded Rain Jacket (Amazon Link)
  2. Light Sweatshirt
  3. T-shirt

This is our favorite layering method for any Alaska cruise. The fleece-lined rain jacket keeps you warm and dry. The two base layers provide additional warmth and are often sufficient when the outer layer is removed.

Men’s Outer Layer/Jacket

On cooler days, we were thankful for our warm base layers and/or warm waterproof/water-resistant jackets, and on warmer days, we were able to shed layers and feel comfortable.

We also found that comfortable and sturdy walking shoes were a must for the many excursions we participated in, from hiking to sightseeing.

Glacier Viewing

Keep in mind that it gets particularly cold when the ship gets close to a glacier. The viewing experience from the deck is just amazing, but the winds off the ice make the outside temp wintry cold sometimes. A warmer outer layer is a good idea for this experience.

Rain Gear

Regardless of the month, it’s essential that you pack rain gear for your Alaska cruise. One of the mistakes many passengers make is not being prepared for rain during the cruise season. You will likely encounter rain in at least one of your ports or on a cruising day.

While you might experience heat waves during the summer, or even in May, and no to little rain, you may also get rain on most days during the summertime.

It’s better to bring a jacket which is waterproof and not only water-resistant. However, a very good water-resistant jacket can do its job as well. Additionally, pack water-resistant or waterproof boots and a compact travel umbrella.

Comfortable and Sturdy Shoes
Bestseller No. 1
NORTIV 8 Women's Waterproof Hiking Shoes Quick Laces Outdoors Walking Trekking...
  • Waterproof Build: For optimal fit, we suggest going up half a size. Immerse yourself in protection with our...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Sorel Women's Out N about lll Waterproof Low Sneakers - Stone Green, Sea Salt -...
  • Waterproof Women's Footwear: This waterproof women's sneaker is perfect for walking, especially in rainy weather,...
SaleBestseller No. 3
COTTIMO Women's Waterproof Hiking Shoes Non Slip Sneakers Lightweight Tennis...
  • Premium Waterproof Technology: Keep your feet dry in wet and muddy trails with Cottimo VAPO-Tech. A layer of...

Many Alaska cruise excursions involve uneven terrain, so comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots are important. However, we never needed hiking shoes.

Sneakers/trainers, sandals, boat shoes, and other casual footwear are appropriate for onboard activities.

💡 Tip: The best thing you can do is bring comfortable, waterproof sneakers that are sturdy enough (see our tips above from Amazon). You can use these onboard and during excursions, saving you packing space!

Water-Resistant Pants?

Most of the time, you are fine with a good waterproof jacket. Up until last year, we have never felt the need for any special type of waterproof pants or shoes. If it was mild or moderate rain, I typically still wore my jeans unless I felt I was going to get drenched.

That’s why we didn’t add special pants to the packing lists in this article.

However, we just bought these, and now we love them on every cruise:

They are super awesome and keep you warm and dry all the time.  So, instead of a second pair of standard pants, we pack a pair of these water-resistant ones for cooler days with heavier rain.

SaleBestseller No. 1
4 Pack Leggings for Women Butt Lift High Waisted Tummy Control No See-Through...
  • 【4 PACK LEGGINGS】-Simple and straightforward, legging is a way of life,are a tried-and-true wardrobe staple...
Bestseller No. 2
Blisset 3 Pack High Waisted Leggings for Women-Soft Athletic Tummy Control Pants...
  • 【PREMIUM MATERIAL】 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex Our scrunch leggings use 4 Way Stretch & Non See-through Fabric,...

We sometimes wear leggings under jeans, rain pants, and hiking pants, so in case it gets hot, we can take the pants off and just wear leggings. The extra layer is great when it’s cold.

However, many visitors say they just wear jeans and have never needed more while some passengers bring silk underwear (men and women) or cuddle duds.

Dress for Dinner

Most cruise lines do not require dinner attire and you can wear jeans and a t-shirt. However, some cruise lines have formal nights in the main dining room, so, pack cocktail dresses or slacks and a jacket.

That said, guests on Alaskan cruises typically don’t care too much about what they wear to dinner. Thus, we usually pack a nice outfit for dinner and shows. If you’re not a formal night person, don’t sweat it. Just head to the buffet or another restaurant on board.

For dinner, ladies can bring nice blouses and skirts or pants, dresses, or jumpsuits. Jumpsuits are warm, comfortable, and easy to style for dinner.

From our recent cruise with Princess, we can tell you in detail about the two different types of clothes that they expect people to wear when they eat in the Main Dining Rooms.

Dressy and Dressy Casual:

  • First, “smart casual nights” and “formal nights” refer to what you should wear to dinner each night in the main dining rooms only. Smart casual can include jeans that aren’t ripped or torn, as well as khakis or slacks. It’s just nicer clothing than ripped jeans and a T-shirt. No swimsuits, cover-ups, shorts, or other similar items (shorts may be worn on the first night and sometimes on the last night of the cruise).
  • Formal nightwear can include anything from tuxedos and suits to slacks and a button-down shirt with or without a tie and a jacket for men. For women, there are full-length gowns, cocktail dresses, nice pant suits, and slacks with a sparkly top. On a formal night, you can’t wear jeans in the main dining rooms at all.

Again, these two wardrobes are only for the main dining rooms. If you don’t want to dress that way, there are plenty of other places to eat on the ship, like the Buffet, the Specialty restaurants, the pizza place or the burger and fries place on the pool deck, and on some ships, Alfredos.

Even if you don’t eat in the main dining room, you won’t feel hungry. Check out the deck plans of your ship to find out where you can eat.

Swimsuit and Cover-up

Alaska’s waters are cold and not known for their beach breaks, but some cruise ships have heated pools and hot tubs. For swimming, pack your favorite swimsuit, flip flops, of course, and cover-up. You can check out big fluffy pool towels in the same area as the pool.

Good to know: Towels are being provided!


Bring a hat, gloves, and scarf along with warm layered clothing. Even on cloudy days, sunglasses and sunscreen are necessary. And don’t forget the umbrella – rain can pop up anytime.


Bring a backpack to carry all your layers on excursions as you take them off and put them back on.

More Packing Tips

On an Alaska cruise, you’ll visit ports in Alaska’s inside passage, which is dense with rainforests. It has a different and more temperate climate than mainland Alaska.

But no matter where you go, Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable. If you take a cruise that includes a land tour to Anchorage, Denali, or Fairbanks, you may find it’s warmer and drier than on the ship. So, don’t forget the t-shirt and tank top layer.

Weather and Packing Overview

August is a popular month for Alaska cruises before school starts. Daytime temperatures can range from the mid-60s to the low 70s Fahrenheit (18-22 degrees Celsius), but they can reach into the 80s Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).

Keep your jacket out because night temperatures are crispy with temperatures in the 40s Fahrenheit (4-9 degrees Celsius). August weather is a toss-up between dry and sunny and rain and fog. So, be prepared with a waterproof jacket and layers.

Please keep in mind that even throughout a warm summer month like August it can rain more than you might think in Alaska.

For August, bring anything and everything! We’ve been twice around that time of year, one time was short sleeve beautiful weather the next time we needed sweatshirts and raincoats. There was nonstop rain while we were there. It can vary wildly

Experiences from other travelers who went in August:

When we went in August last year, the weather was perfect, only needed a light, lined windbreaker jacket that we layered with long sleeve shirts or nothing at all. The weather was perfect, not a drop of rain. However, we know that we were just lucky at that time in August. 

We went at the end of August recently. I packed a puffer and wore it unfastened on the land portion. Wore it zipped up with a hat and gloves when we went on the Hubbard Glacier tour. At all ports, I wore shorts/capris and short sleeve t-shirts.

We went the last week of Aug/first week of Sept, and I pretty much lived in jeans and a long-sleeved tee shirt on the land portion, and twill pants and a light sweater while on the cruise ship. Layers are your friend, and also a waterproof jacket. It was fantastic weather for our 12 days, but we packed for pretty much anything.

We wore jeans and long sleeve shirts/ light jumpers during our August cruise. I still would make sure I had a beanie/toque and gloves. The only really cold day we had was in Ketchikan, a normal rainy day. I needed a waterproof/windproof jacket that day, and our gloves and beanie.

A lightweight down jacket is perfect. The insulation down provides more than enough to keep you warm. A waterproof shell that fits over your down jacket is a must. You don’t need a huge puffy winter coat in August.

Outfit and packing tips for August:

  • Waterproof insulated outer layer like a medium puffer coat
  • Middle layer like a sweater, hoodie, fleece/waterproof jacket/vest
  • Light layers like long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirts, long underwear or leggings
  • Slacks or jeans, optional shorts
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Hat, scarf, gloves if you get cold easily
  • Swimsuit (for pool and hot tub)
  • Binoculars (for nature watching)
  • Umbrella

Basic Packing List


  • Waterproof insulated outer layer like a light or medium puffer coat, or winter ski jacket if you get cold easily
  • Middle layer like a sweater, hoodie, fleece/waterproof jacket/vest
  • Light layers like long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirts, long underwear or leggings
  • Dressier outfits for dinner (optional)
  • Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots; mud boots for wetter months
  • Comfortable shoes for onboard activities
  • Swimsuit, cover-up, and sandals or flip flops to use on board
  • Hat, gloves, and scarf for May or September cruises
  • Brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Shorts (optional) for warm days
  • Single-use handwarmers if you get cold easily


  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash or soap
  • Moisturizer and sunscreen
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup and skincare products
  • Prescription medication
  • Over-the-counter medications (expensive to buy on board)


  • Camera or smartphone with a good camera
  • Chargers for all electronics
  • Portable charger or power bank
  • Travel adapter
  • Cruise-compliant power strip (not surge protector)

Other Items:

  • Passport
  • Travel-sized laundry detergent
  • Travel-sized first aid kit
  • Binoculars
  • Travel umbrella
  • Pre-booked port excursions
  • Bathroom scent spray
  • Travel clock (many ships don’t have phone chargers near the bed)
  • Nightlight for bathroom
  • Magnetic hooks for the wall to hold items and papers

One of our favorite activities on the cruises is always whale watching. We were able to see humpback whales breaching and splashing in the water, and it was an unforgettable experience. Orcas are also common in the Pacific Northwest, so you have a good chance to see them nearby.

We were glad we brought binoculars to get a closer look at the wildlife and scenery. Many people think they don’t need binoculars. That’s a big mistake!

Overall, our Alaskan cruises were a fantastic experience every time, and we felt well-prepared with our packing list and outfit choices. By following these tips and bringing the right items, you can enjoy your Alaskan cruise to the fullest and create lasting memories.

In conclusion, packing for an Alaskan cruise requires careful consideration of the weather, activities, and dress codes. By packing layers of warm and waterproof clothing, sturdy walking shoes, and dressier outfits for special events, you can be prepared for any situation.

Don’t forget to bring important accessories, such as a swimsuit, hat, gloves, and sunscreen, and other necessary items like toiletries and electronics.

Save the 3 Best Activities