I. How You Pack Can Be A Problem
In most cruise ship staterooms space is extremely limited. On some cruise ships, depending on suitcase size, you can slide your suitcase and bags under the beds. However, on some ships you cannot do this because of the bed configuration or the size of your suitcase. If you pack too many clothes or items you will have trouble storing your belongings because drawer space is also limited. On Alaska cruises, these problems still exist and can be worse. There are many Alaska cruisers that fly to or from their cruise and this often means packing more belongings in larger suitcases. Packing more belongings and having a larger suitcase will limit your stateroom space. Only pack clothing and belongings you know you will need. I recommend packing one extra pair of clothes, but more than 3 extra pairs is usually considered too much.
A) Consider bringing a fair amount of clothing with you in your suitcase. However, bring things you would be willing to wash at an onboard laundry facility and wear again. Onboard laundry facilities usually cost some money, but by packing less clothes you will be able to travel lighter and not have as many belongings to deal with.
B) Always leave a small amount of extra space in your suitcase when packing pre-cruise because you may buy things during your cruise that you wish to bring home. I have seen many people have to carry off their gift shop purchases because their suitcases were complexly filled. This problem can exist on Alaska cruises too!
C) The clothing you pack should keep you comfortable in the temperatures you will be experiencing. Alaska is not always cold so do not pack a complete suitcase of heavy winter clothes. I recommend you pay attention to weather and temperature forecasts as you make your packing decisions. Packing clothing that will not keep you comfortable in the weather conditions is worthless and just takes up some of your valuable space.
II. Shore Excursions: To Book Or Not Book?
Cruise lines often push the selling of shore excursions to passengers in the early parts of a cruise vacation. In Alaska, this constant sells pitch for shore excursions can be worse than some other cruise destinations, such as the Caribbean or Bahamas. This is because Alaska's ports offer so many unique things to see and experience.
There are two common categories of shore excursions. One category is shore excursions sold by your cruise ship and the other type is a shore excursion you booked privately. For the purposes of this article, I will not discuss the pros and cons of each. However, please keep in mind, shore excursions sold by the cruise ship will usually offer a guarantee to passengers that if they get delayed during the excursion and cannot get back to the ship, the cruise line will have the ship wait or transport the excursion guests to the next port of call. I wanted to emphasize that because cruise ships HAVE and WILL leave late passengers. It was happened many times before and it can happen again!
If you are thinking about booking a shore excursion you need to research your options, prices, and reviews on the excursion. Only book an excursion if it interests you, sounds like a good value for your money, and fits into your timetable in the given Alaska port of call. Always make sure the excursion ends well before your designated time to get back onboard the ship. Do not cut the times close!! Do not book a shore excursion if is highly overpriced, sounds boring,has terrible reviews, or you are only half interested. Instead, consider walking around the port and browsing local shops. This can be a fun way to see the port at a virtually free cost (unless you buy something in one of the shops you browse).