MY PACKING TIPS FOR ALASKA CRUISES
Most of all bring a good sense of humor.
Pictures may be misleading as you see glaciers and mountains topped with snow. In general, Alaska has a very pleasant climate in the summer from June through to August. One can expect anywhere from 50 to 80 degrees. Areas near the coast are usually cooler. Bring clothing that can be worn in layers that will prepare you for any eventuality. Bring a warm, water resistant coat and pants and a sweater, especially for a day cruise if you take it. Do bring lighter clothing as well. Definitely bring comfortable shoes like sneakers. A good deal of time is spent on deck viewing glaciers and wildlife. Shore excursions include activities such as a helicopter ride to the top of Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier, or a fishing excursion for salmon, panning for gold or a salmon bake at a rustic lodge. A must bring is a camera (zoom lens cameras are even better for those not so obvious shots, like wildlife and wide angle lens for the expanses). Also bring with you a set of binoculars; you wouldn't want to miss anything. Keep an eye out for those Killer Whales, Bald Eagles and Grizzly Bears. Bring bug repellant as summer bring swarms of mosquitoes and good sunscreen is wise as the sun is much stronger here.
should I dress?
Whenever and wherever you travel in "The Great
Land," clothing is always a primary consideration. Emphasis should be based
on comfort. Some cruise lines recommend smart casual. This means whatever you
like but no jeans, tee shirts, shorts or "grubbies".
Necessary incidentals include
Remember to bring your passport.
Packing Suggestions include
What is the weather like?
The weather in Alaska is unpredictable. Plan on both rain and sunshine. Temperatures in Alaska during the summer range from 60°-80°F. Nighttime and early mornings are cooler, from the 40's - 50's F. Late August and September you could encounter cooler temperatures and slightly fewer hours of sunlight, as fall arrives early at these latitudes. Below is a chart with average daytime highs & lows, average monthly precipitation and average hours of sunlight. The most popular months to visit Alaska are July and August, typically the warmest months. Nature excursions are at their peak in August with the salmon spawning and the bears fishing.
Favorite Guidebooks on Alaska
Alaska by Cruise Ship:
photographs and dozens of maps, charts, and illustrations support the narrative
describing this exciting cruise. Covers
the destinations with solid detail and from the cruiser's perspective. Includes
a giant color pullout map. There
are few books better on cruising than those by Anne Vipond. Anne
patiently describes all the major cruise ports in Alaska and the Inside Passage.
The detailed town maps with keys to the text descriptions are excellent. Anyone
taking a cruise to Alaska will find this book invaluable. Ocean Cruise Guides,
Vancouver BC ($18.95)
Adventure Guide to the
Inside Passage & Coastal Alaska: Icy Inlets, Towering Totems, Rich Rainforests, … as
compelling as a good novel, this book feels like a nice long letter from a
friend who wants to be sure you have a great trip. The Adventure Guide to The
Inside Passage & Coastal Alaska follows the Alaska ferry route, telling you
everything you need to know about the ships themselves, the sights and the
towns. Tours on land – flight-seeing, kayaking, canoeing, and boating – are
covered. The book is targeted at anyone traveling in this region, not just those
taking the ferry, and has full information on what to see and do in each town,
where to stay and eat and how to get out of town. Extensive details about
wildlife, including the best places to see some and how to be an eco-conscious
traveler is described. Hunter
Publishing, Edison NJ ($16.95)
Alaska Cruise Guide, the
Coastal Companion: Joe
Upton draws on twenty years of exploring the northwest coast and Alaska to
produce a meandering journey rich with stories, photos, and his illustrated
maps. Both book and map use a unique locating system: Seattle is mile zero.
Passengers can easily follow their ship’s progress and reference it to the
exciting tales in the book. Coastal Publishing ($17.95)
Bell’s Travel Guide to
Alaska, Yukon & British Columbia: This is a driving guide with good maps and
description mile for mile. Dollar for dollar this simply is the best tool
available for planning and implementing your northern vacation. The comfort of
knowing what lay ahead is priceless. West Bank, BC ($19.95)
Best Places: Alaska
— One of a
series of Best Places guidebooks by Seattle-based Sasquatch Books. Over 200
restaurant and lodging reviews pack an in-depth guide to the 'best' recommended
Alaskan places; from hidden coves and fly-in fishing lodges to spectacular
outdoors attractions presented by nature. This is an excellent title of choice
for any discriminating Alaska-bound traveler who wants to plan a quality trip. Especially
good for recommendations on where to stay and eat ($21.95).
Compass American Guides:
Alaska — Good
essays on the natural and cultural history of Alaska, plus lots of photos.
However, it's sparse on sightseeing details and hotel listings, so you'll need a
guidebook, too ($21).
Discovering Denali: A
Complete Reference Guide to Denali National Park and Mount McKinley, Alaska:
Denali is the complete reference guide to Denali National Park and Mount
McKinley, Alaska. Includes hiking and climbing maps and information on summer
and winter activities, wildlife, local towns and state parks. iUniverse.com ($16.95)
Insight Guides: Alaska
Beautiful pictures, Good all-around guidebook covering sights, hotels, shopping
and more. Insight Guide books include a section detailing the country’s
history, features covering the country's life and culture, a region by region
visitor's guide to the sights, and a comprehensive Travel Tips section packed
with essential contact addresses and numbers, plus many lovely photographs and
The Klondike Fever: The Life
and Death of the Great Gold Rush: by Pierre Burton. This is a superb popular history
book, informative and fascinating. It is the most complete and most authentic on
the subject: a lively saga of the great gold rush. Publishers Group West
Lonely Planet Alaska:
Planet is at its guidebook best when it's covering isolated regions where those
little details of shelter, food, and transportation are of more than passing
concern. Just the section on Denali National Park alone makes Jim DuFresne's
guide worthwhile, illuminating the complex new rules governing access to that
sensational wildlife reserve, plus giving information on dogsled demonstrations,
hiking, rafting, backpacking, and so on. The sections on climate, geography, and
ecology are very well done, as are the chapters on the Alaskan people and
society. The transportation chapters are vital and comprehensive, and the rest
of the guide follows suit, covering all of Alaska (no little task) with reliable
acumen, information, and savvy. Lonely Planet, ($18.99)
Looking for Alaska by
Jenkins's 18-month sojourn in Alaska involves more unconventional modes of
travel: a nervy float-plane trip through the fog with a passenger who knows the
route better than the pilot, for instance, or a wild ride across a frozen river
on a sled attached to 13 surging huskies. Part of Jenkins's charm is that he
never pretends that he's figured the place out; he readily cops to his outsider
status and invites readers to experience his sense of awe and surprise with him.
"No one is ever the same after coming back from Alaska," he writes and
after reading his book, it's easy to believe him. St.
Martin's Press ($25.95)
The Milepost: A Trip Planner
for Alaska, Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Alberta & Northwest
go to the exotic and wild and unusual world that is ALASKA you need two books, `MilePost'
and `Looking for Alaska' by Peter Jenkins. In order to get the fullness of
ALASKA you must know where to drive, how far it is to the next gas station, what
B&B to stay at that has cinnamon buns as big as the `moon' BUT you should
also have a sense of the soul of ALASKA. The MilePost offers the practical and
Looking For Alaska, Peter Jenkins'newest book offers you a glimpse of the soul
and spirit of this astounding place that you need to see and touch and hear.
Published every year by Morris
Communications Corp. ($24.95)
The Nature of Southeast
Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals, and Habitats
Travels in Alaska
a trip to last century's Alaska through Muir's clean, easy-going, enthusiastic
prose. He wrote the way he took pictures, with insight, attention, care and
genuine feeling. It's a lovely look into a beautiful land and its inhabitants
the way it used to be, told in a flowing narrative that is far less rushed than
contemporary travel tales. Mariner Books ($25.00)
The Yukon Fact Book:
Zuehlke. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Yukon from a to Z. A must
read to fully enjoy a trip in the Yukon, an encyclopedia that reads like a
novel. Whitecap Books, Canada ($16.95)