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Canuker

Essential gear for an Alaskan cruise?

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Please help me compile my packing list for our upcoming (July 2020) 12-day cruise between Vancouver and Anchorage.
What must we take to ensure we get the best from this marvelous trip, please?
I'm looking for specifics for this region, not items that might go on any cruise.
Thanks.

 

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If by gear you mean 'what clothing' to bring, the answer is always ..... wear layers so that you're prepared for whatever weather transpires during the day.  Your first layer is usually a long/short sleeve T , then a middle layer for warmth which is usually a fleece/ wool sweater/hoody, then topped by a waterproof jacket preferably hooded.   The first layer is next to the skin so you need at least a weeks worth, but the 2nd layer can be reworn so you only need 2 or 3.  For pants I wear what I wear in Seattle .... jeans and khakis.   A pr of comfortable walking shoes and a spray waterproofing on a pr of sneakers.  Pack shorts in case you have great weather!  

Bring a small daypack so you have a place to store your layers; the day may start off rainy and cold but the afternoon may get warm.  The daypack also holds your binoculars, wallet, sunglasses, lip balm, gloves, ski cap, tickets, etc.

If you use the SEARCH feature on the word 'clothing' you'll find many past threads on this topic. 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/search/?q=clothing&type=forums_topic&nodes=33

 

Also look at past trip reports near the top of the page.  In the photos, pay attention to what people in the background are wearing .... it's usually jeans, sweatshirt and jacket.

 

If you have activities, like fishing or dog sledding, check with the vendors to see what specialized clothing they will provide.  If you're doing heavy hiking, you may want some rain pants. 

 

And if gear, means something else besides clothing, you'll need to be specific about what you want.

 

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And don’t forget sunscreen.  You will need it.  Most people think they don’t but you will.

 

(I am that person on the ship or excursion that has sunscreen for all to use as well as bug spray...)

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Yes to all the above so far... plus a camera that you already know how to use and sensible footwear that is already broken in. If you're not going hiking, you don't need to worry about acquiring a good pair of boots - but sturdy shoes with good grippy soles will be of benefit on the many 'not a sidewalk' areas, being water-proof enough to at least get rained on and splash through a puddle without your feet getting soaked is never a bad idea; if you have boots already of course bring them, just wear them on the plane to avoid their weight in your luggage.

 

Given you're from Toronto OP, the kind of clothing you wear to be outdoors in Fall and Spring should pretty much nail your trips requirements. We've never had to make use of our serious winter wear since moving over to the Left Coast from T.O., but unlined waterproof jackets and thin fleece gloves/scarves/toques have stayed in regular rotation. All I needed to add to my wardrobe, rather than replace when worn out, was a really good broad-brimmed rain hat (in my case a Barmah 'Squashy' Kangaroo leather bush hat - which packs really small if necessary but has excellent water-proofing and a stiff brim that enables use of a camera even in pouring rain) that sees much more use than my Tilley these days.

 

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On 11/13/2019 at 5:26 AM, Canuker said:

Please help me compile my packing list for our upcoming (July 2020) 12-day cruise between Vancouver and Anchorage.
What must we take to ensure we get the best from this marvelous trip, please?
I'm looking for specifics for this region, not items that might go on any cruise.
Thanks.

 

 

55 minutes ago, martincath said:

Yes to all the above so far... plus a camera that you already know how to use and sensible footwear that is already broken in. If you're not going hiking, you don't need to worry about acquiring a good pair of boots - but sturdy shoes with good grippy soles will be of benefit on the many 'not a sidewalk' areas, being water-proof enough to at least get rained on and splash through a puddle without your feet getting soaked is never a bad idea; if you have boots already of course bring them, just wear them on the plane to avoid their weight in your luggage.

 

Given you're from Toronto OP, the kind of clothing you wear to be outdoors in Fall and Spring should pretty much nail your trips requirements. We've never had to make use of our serious winter wear since moving over to the Left Coast from T.O., but unlined waterproof jackets and thin fleece gloves/scarves/toques have stayed in regular rotation. All I needed to add to my wardrobe, rather than replace when worn out, was a really good broad-brimmed rain hat (in my case a Barmah 'Squashy' Kangaroo leather bush hat - which packs really small if necessary but has excellent water-proofing and a stiff brim that enables use of a camera even in pouring rain) that sees much more use than my Tilley these days.

 

Light weight rain gear, the type that fit into a pouch.

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Since almost all of your trip will be in daylight take some bread closures or something to keep the blinds closed unless you are in an interior room. 

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Check your phone provider's phone coverage map around the ports.  So glad I had ATT.

Edited by xlxo

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I took but did not use sunscreen or bug spray.  My daily moisturizer includes sunscreen for my face, and I was wearing pants and at least partial sleeves the whole trip for the most part, so nothing else was necessary.  We had no issues with bugs during our 2 weeks in June 2019.  Neither on the cruise excursions or the land tour.  

 

What we took that we really did need was every layer possible to be warm enough to be outside on Glacier Bay day.  It is windy, it is very cold, but it is amazing, so you want to be able to be bundled up enough to stay outside.  I had on a long sleeve athletic shirt, cuddle duds long sleeve fleece shirt and leggings, knit yoga pants, fleece vest, fleece jacket, light wind breaker/rain jacket, gloves, and a scarf to cover my ears.  I needed every single piece i had on.  I barely used most of that stuff the rest of the trip because the weather was fantastic for our whole trip, but that day I was glad I had packed all those layers.

 

The most important thing I took for the whole trip was a really good pair of binoculars.  There were so many things I would not have been able to see without them, and I took them everywhere with me except to dinner and a show!

 

 

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On 11/14/2019 at 4:56 PM, SightCRR said:

Since almost all of your trip will be in daylight take some bread closures or something to keep the blinds closed unless you are in an interior room. 

 

I used to bring potato chip bag clips but now just use the clips on the pants hangers in my stateroom closet.  These clips are quite strong and can be pulled wider apart to give a great hold on your stateroom curtains.

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Much obliged for all your suggestions  & recommendations, especially from so many of you who were there.
Most of the comments have been about practical clothing - thank you. As someone noticed, being from Toronto, turns out we have the clothing we need.
Other than clothing, cameras and binoculars were mentioned. There is another excellent thread in this forum about binoculars that has been helpful, too.
I imagine a good alarm/clock would be handy, too to make sure we get to see all that beautiful scenery as the ship passes. I'm beginning to realize that our inside cabin selection was a good idea, as we can create darkness, for sleep, at any time of the day or night, when we're not bundled up, with our binoculars, outside.

Thanks again, everyone.

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If you plan on doing any hiking,One item not to pack but to purchase while there is bear spray. If you google "2006 Russian River bear attack" you will see why I suggest it. Better safe than sorry!

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9 minutes ago, diesel1973 said:

If you plan on doing any hiking,One item not to pack but to purchase while there is bear spray. If you google "2006 Russian River bear attack" you will see why I suggest it. Better safe than sorry!

I often hike in Alaska by myself and do not take bear spray. You should only take bear spray if you feel comfortable and are experienced using it. Often people panic and end up spraying themselves.

 

I have never seen a bear on the trail - I use hiking sticks and "bang" them onto the ground so the bears know I am coming. I also have a whistle on my day pack, so if I hear a bear is in the area, or see bear scat, I stick the whistle in my mouth and "blow" the whistle every time I exhale. Generally speaking, if you make noise, the bears keep away from you.

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3 minutes ago, RSF Cruiser said:

I often hike in Alaska by myself and do not take bear spray. You should only take bear spray if you feel comfortable and are experienced using it. Often people panic and end up spraying themselves.

 

I have never seen a bear on the trail - I use hiking sticks and "bang" them onto the ground so the bears know I am coming. I also have a whistle on my day pack, so if I hear a bear is in the area, or see bear scat, I stick the whistle in my mouth and "blow" the whistle every time I exhale. Generally speaking, if you make noise, the bears keep away from you.

Wish I could say the same. Have been fishing in Alaska for 20+ years and have walked up on plenty of bears especially near the rivers when the salmon are running. After my incident I now carry a 357 Magnum. Have also read about many incidents occurring while up there.

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5 minutes ago, diesel1973 said:

Wish I could say the same. Have been fishing in Alaska for 20+ years and have walked up on plenty of bears especially near the rivers when the salmon are running. After my incident I now carry a 357 Magnum. Have also read about many incidents occurring while up there.

I am not near the salmon runs! I've been hiking in Alaska for about 10-15 years.  When I was at Katmai National Park, we had to attend "bear school", and the most important thing they instructed us about was how not to surprise the bears. At Katmai the bears rule - humans are "taught" how not to disturb them by avoiding direct eye contact and making noise.

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3 minutes ago, RSF Cruiser said:

I am not near the salmon runs! I've been hiking in Alaska for about 10-15 years.  When I was at Katmai National Park, we had to attend "bear school", and the most important thing they instructed us about was how not to surprise the bears. At Katmai the bears rule - humans are "taught" how not to disturb them by avoiding direct eye contact and making noise.

I'm glad your "sticks" are working out for you. In my situation I feel safer with the 357 !!!

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3 hours ago, diesel1973 said:

In my situation I feel safer with the 357 !!!

 

This must limit your cruise travel.

 

 

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44 minutes ago, kochleffel said:

 

This must limit your cruise travel.

 

 

Have never done a cruise in Alaska, just land travel and some ferry travel. Have seen a lot more  up there than some cruisers do.

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Hat with a brim...very handy if you wear glasses and/or want to take pictures when the sky is dripping. You make walk under trees that drip...and it may not be raining fully. Hat with brim will help you continue to take photographs.

 

I bought a so-called rugged point and shoot for our Alaska trip. I knew I would use it beyond Alaska...the cruise was just the catalyst to finally make the purchase...but it was beyond convenient to have a waterproof camera that I could just tuck into my pocket and take out in all weather when we were in port. I did also bring a lens cloth...but wow, I really loved having an easy to use and carry around camera.

 

Polarized sunglasses, not something you may associate with Alaska but like any other water destination...you need them when you need them.

 

So one thing that I WISH that I had brought on our cruise was a detailed map of the cruise route. There are a few places along the way...Skagway sail away comes to mind...where I really wished that I could identify what I was seeing. Fortunately, I took SO MANY photos that I could piece it together with the map that I had at home...but didn't bring. But there are many little glaciers and other landmarks that are identified in a topo map book...and I find that type of thing interesting.

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