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What to pack for the Rocky Mountaineer & Alaska Cruise

posted October 11, 2016

The Rocky Mountaineer & Alaska Cruise

If you love an adventure and the great outdoors, then just imagine how amazing it would be to explore the Rockies and Alaska in a single trip.

The Rockies & Alaska Cruise Extravaganza holiday offers a scenic two-day journey on the Rocky Mountaineer’s “First Passage to the West” from Banff to Vancouver, plus a cruise along the Inside Passage from Vancouver to Alaska.

But along with the obvious charms that a trip such as this brings, many people worry about what they need to wear and how cold it will be on your Alaska cruise.

So with this in mind, we have created a guide to help answer the questions and queries you may have before going on this incredible holiday in Canada.


What will the weather be like?

Mountain range and ocean waters in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

The weather in the Rocky Mountains and in Alaska varies a tremendous amount, and there is a huge difference between night and daytime temperatures.

As departures for the trip run between April and September, the temperatures in the Rocky Mountains can vary. In Banff, where the Rocky Mountaineer departs, average highs in April are around 11°C. By contrast, in July the average high temperature is a warm 22°C. On the other hand, average lows can be as cold as -2°C in April. For a guide, have a look at the Holiday Weather website.

In Alaska, the weather also varies wildly, but according to the website the southeast/Inside Passage region can see temperatures range from:

May – highs of 12.7°C, lows of 3°C
June – highs of 15.5°C, lows of 7°C
July – highs of 17.7°C, lows of 8.8°C
August – highs of 17.2°C, lows of 8.8°C
September – highs of 12.7°C, lows of 6.1°C


What should I pack?

What should I pack

The Rockies & Alaska Cruise Extravaganza visits different places that have different climates, so it can be difficult to decide what you need to bring.

If you add in the fact that the trip incorporates the Rocky Mountaineer, a world-renowned train that travels through the wild beauty of Canada’s West, a luxurious way of seeing the majestic Canadian Rockies, then it is understandable why many people pack too much.

Rockies & Alaska cruise trip essentials:

  • • Passports, travel documents and ESTA visa
  • • Hiking boots
  • • Trainers
  • • Jeans/comfortable trousers for walking
  • • Jumpers and t-shirts for walking
  • • T-shirts, long sleeved tops and light layers
  • • Fleece/warm coat
  • • Gloves & woolly hat
  • • Casual and smarter clothes for the train and cruise
  • • Underwear
  • • Toiletries
  • • Camera

Documents for two countries


Obviously passports and travel documents are essential for any holiday you are going on, but all cruise passengers must complete the online Visa Waiver form to enter the US. This is in addition to the eTA you need to enter Canada.

Staying comfortable

prince william sound alaska

Some comfortable trainers will be needed for walking around the cities we visit, whilst hiking boots are a necessity for when you visit Lake Louise and its array of stunning hiking trails.

A pair of jeans or comfortable trousers will be needed for your hikes and although described as luxurious, the Rocky Mountaineer train journey is not as formal as some may think – casual clothing is fine.

You will likely want to bring some gloves, a woolly hat and a fleece or a warm coat as it can get chilly in the Rockies and in Alaska. Some people think that Alaska in particular is always cold, but it won’t be as cold as you expect. You might even be pleasantly surprised by warm, sunny days! It is best to pack light layers which you can build up or strip off depending on how the weather fares.

Getting those snaps

Brown bear

Packing a camera should really be one of the essentials as during your trip you will get to see some incredible sights. Lake Louise is sometimes called the Jewel of the Rockies, while Alaska is famous for its glaciers and icebergs. You may also get to snap some wildlife during your visit to the Sawyer Glacier area, as it is home to an abundance of wildlife such as brown and black bears, moose and wolves.


The question of dress

what to wear on rocky mountaineer and cruise

Another common question we hear is “What should I wear?”

The Rocky Mountaineer train journey is often seen as the ultimate luxury. While this is true in terms of service and experience, it is a common misconception when it comes to dress. A spokesperson from the Rocky Mountaineer, said, “We do not have a dress code on-board the train. As long as you are comfortable for your journey, we advise guests resort to casual!”


The same is also said of the cruise to Alaska. Some cruise-goers leap at the chance to dress to impress and don a tuxedo or evening gown. The atmosphere on the cruise, however, is very relaxed and cruisers will not be out of place if they dress casually.

The cruise will usually have one or two more formal evenings on board. While you can dress in your finery if you wish, smart clothes similar to what you would normally wear out for a nice evening meal are fine.


Awesome activities

The Rockies & Alaska Cruise Extravaganza Holiday is an 18-day trip and includes a whole host of amazing activities. Here we pick out some highlights.

Hiking in Lake Louise

Hiking in Lake Louise

The Jewel of the Rockies is one of the most iconic sights you will see in Canada. It’s easy to see why outdoor lovers all over the world recognise its vibrant turquoise waters.

There are a range of hiking trails in the region and you will get time to explore these and take photographs of the beautiful views.

Riding on the Rocky Mountaineer

Rocky Mountaineer

This really is a trip of a lifetime! You will pass through stunning landscapes and enchanting mountain ranges. Guests travelling in Gold Leaf will enjoy unbelievable panoramic views from the glass-domed carriages. Silver Leaf makes the most of the impressive vistas with huge, picture windows.

There are ample photo opportunities during the journey. Plus you will also get to spend a night in the Okanagan Valley, which is renowned for producing wine.

Cruise Alaska and see the Sawyer Glacier

Cruise Alaska

The Inside Passage is a scenic waterway stretching from Vancouver to Alaska. Visitors will make this journey and get to see Alaska’s amazing islands and the Sawyer Glacier.

If you love wildlife, then the Sawyer Glacier is definitely the right place to come. This magnificent region is home to a number of animals, including black and brown bears. Animal lovers also love Glacier Bay as humpback whales and killer whales are commonly seen breaching the water.

Alaska is of course known for its fjords. Unrivalled views of the enormous cliff-flanked fjords will delight visitors as you travel through Glacier Bay.
Image Credit: Murray Foubister, Andrew E. Russell, Ruocaled.

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