What To Bring On An Alaskan Cruise – Essential Gadgets

travel-gadgets

In a previous post, we mentioned that an Alaskan cruise experience is quite different compared to other ocean cruises such as the Caribbean. So, what to bring on an Alaskan cruise to fully enjoy what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, record your memories and share them subsequently with family and friends?

Most people join a cruise to Alaska to appreciate nature, have closer encounters with wildlife or explore adventures uniquely offered by Alaska. Learning from our experience, we recommend gadgets that you may want to bring to achieve the objectives you have set for the trip.

Binoculars

binocularsOnboard the ship or during onshore excursions, our pair of good quality binoculars became indispensable. Landscape details along the shores of the Inside Passage were magnified for our viewing pleasure from the comfort of the ship’s viewing decks. In the open sea, we got a closer view of some of the marine life along the way.

During most of our onshore excursions, stunning views greeted us, and wildlife sightings awed us. From a safe distance, we were able to observe wildlife at their natural habitats. Bald eagles perched on trees, a mama bear feeding her cub, sea lions frolicking on top of a marine buoy, and whales doing their tail flips were rewarding sights!  We would have missed a lot of the Alaskan experience without our binoculars.

We recommend that you invest in one. Several options of good quality, reasonably priced binoculars that can meet the challenge of an Alaskan trip while not making a massive dent in your wallet are available online.

Camera and Accessories

camera

Cellphones have evolved such that most of them now have advanced cameras. They are convenient to use, lightweight, and won’t eat up space in your luggage. No wonder most people rely on them to take pictures or videos while vacationing, and we used to be one of them.

During our Alaskan cruise, we realized that there’s no substitute for a traditional camera to capture picturesque views.  We were lucky that one of our friends who joined us on the cruise had her DLSR camera with her. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a high-quality record of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We have now decided to invest in a mirrorless camera and Zen has taken up an interest in travel photography. She took some of the pictures during our recent land trip to Montreal with the camera. Her photography skills will again be put to the test on an upcoming trip, so she continues to practice and learn.  One thing we learned is that you should remember to bring essential accessories you need such as extra battery packs and SD cards.

Monopod for Camera

monopod-for-cameraThe picturesque scenes that the Alaskan landscape and wilderness offer something that you would not want to miss recording.  As we were observing those with cameras struggling at times to steadily hold them, we thought that a monopod would have been a good help.

Monopods enable photographers to have a steady hold of cameras, allowing them to take sharp pictures at slower shutter speeds, and with longer focal length lenses. They are easier to transport and quicker to set up than conventional tripods, making them preferable for on-the-go shots.

We highly recommend you consider getting one for your next trip to Alaska and other similar destinations.  They can also easily double-up as a walking stick, especially when you explore some of the more rugged paths of Alaska.

Flexible Tripod

flexible-tripodWhen we were at the Mendenhall Glacier, we saw a couple take out a flexible tripod. They wrapped the tripod’s legs around a tree branch, mounted their camera, and took their selfie shots, with the glacier as the background. We were jealous as we struggled to get our pics with that breathless background.

Their flexible tripod was lightweight, versatile, and freed up both their hands. The pliable legs also adjust to uneven surface, or can be attached to the handlebars of a bike, should they need to go cycling in other on-shore excursions.

Selfie Stick

selfie-stickWhen we were on board the ship during our recent Alaskan cruise, we realized that we forgot to bring with us our selfie stick. At some of the attractions we visited (the Hubbard Glacier standing out), we had difficulty taking our selfie pictures because of the crowd. We were lucky that a kind couple offered to take our pictures.

Some people do not like selfie sticks. However, whether you are a fan or not, you have to admit that a telescoping selfie stick is a convenient and useful gadget to have on a cruise. There may be lots of situations that no one can take the pictures for you. In these cases, selfie sticks are invaluable, more so if it has a remote shutter button. Just be mindful that it doesn’t get in the way of others.

Portable WiFi

portable-wifiA portable WiFi is a router that acts as a mobile WiFi hotspot. It can be used virtually anywhere and helps you to stay connected on the go.

They normally come with SIM cards, preloaded with starter data plans that you can top-up anytime.  It provides internet wireless connection to smartphones, tablets, personal computers. Portable WiFi establishes high-speed broadband connectivity that can be shared by multiple users at a time.

We brought a Portable WiFi with us and it saved us the need to buy the cruise ship’s internet package, which we thought was rather expensive.  It served our purpose and provided us with internet access when we are close to/within the city limits.

Portable Power  Bank

portable-power-bank

Who hasn’t experienced the frustration of not being able to use one’s electronic gadget when it runs out of juice? This situation makes a portable power bank a must-pack item. They come in handy, especially for onshore excursions, when you don’t have access to power plugs. Even on-board the ship, it allows you to quickly re-charge when you are enjoying its various facilities, without having to walk back into your room. These portable devices are highly recommended and convenient for charging devices with USB ports.

RFID Wallet

credit-card-wallet

Some of the most beautiful places worth exploring come with travel risks, one of them being theft. Nothing spoils a globe-trotting adventure like getting your valuables stolen. You can always leave them in your cabin’s safe, but there are situations when you need them with you.

Keep your credit cards safe by putting them in an RFID wallet, which shields them from anyone trying to scan them illegally and your passport with an RFID passport sleeve. An online search before purchasing will provide you with lots of options to consider.

Most people join a cruise to Alaska to appreciate nature and wildlife or have a relaxing time on the ship.  That was certainly our objective and our mirrorless camera (together with most of the gadgets discussed above) made our vacation more enjoyable, safe, and enabled us to vividly capture the experience.  Do prioritize according to your needs and carefully choose what to bring so that you can still pack light.

There you have it! We hope that this post provides excellent insight and helps you choose what gadgets to bring in your next cruise to Alaska or similar destinations.

If you have insights on this topic, we invite you to leave your comments below.


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(28) Comments

  1. Tracy

    I sure wish that I could afford a trip to Alaska! Someday. I was almost stationed there directly from Hawaii, but things changed last minute. Anyway, I love the tips on what to bring. Things I never think of are wifi and extra battery power. Such good thinking! Thank you for sharing such useful information!

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Tracy,

      Thank you for your comments. We do hope you will find the opportunity to go for a cruise to Alaska. It is a great experience. Glad that you like the post. The ideas/tips could be applicable in trips to any similar destinations.

  2. Joe Tomaselli

    Your list of ‘must-haves’ is right on the mark; a timely article for me actually. I want to take a cruise to Alaska so,…I’ll be marching to your recommendations. I especially liked the Portable Wi-Fi and Flexible Tripod…I didn’t even consider either one of those,…thank you!

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Joe,

      Glad to note that you are looking into an Alaskan cruise and that our post was timely/useful. Yes, if you want to save on international roaming or internet plans that the ship offers, portable wifi is a great alternative.
      Good luck on your Alaskan cruise!

  3. Sandra Hancock

    Great post – and interesting great info. Loved the idea of carrying the Flexoid Tripod and the portable Wi-Fi, in particular. Great extras for our holiday – thank you for your ideas and help.

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Sandra,

      Thanks a lot for your comments. Yes, portable WiFi was a blessing for us. We just wished we had a flexible tripod as well. But we were able to improvise.

  4. Viviana Munoz

    I would love to explore an Alaskan cruise one day for sure! I would’ve never thought to bring an RFID wallet but that makes all the sense in the world. Working at a financial center I hear clients getting compromised all the time with their debit or credit cards. I have to invest in one of these myself. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Viviana,

      As most of us nowadays rely so much on debit/credit cards, we all agree that their protection is of paramount importance, particularly during our travels in various destinations, Alaska included. Hope you will have the chance to make the trip sometime.

  5. Tom Priesmeyer

    Excellent ideas and tips on what to bring with you on an Alaskan cruise. I plan to take an Alaskan cruise in the near future, and it makes sense to take all of these devices with me. About the only one I would have brought with is the binoculars, but now I see these other gadgets are must have. Thanks again for sharing, and for helping make mine, and other’s trips more enjoyable. Tom

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Tom,

      Thank you for your comments. We are glad to note that you are planning to take this cruise and that our post was a useful sharing. Hope to hear from your experience when the time comes.

  6. Enrique

    Hi, there,

    I think your recommendations apply for any trip, not just Alaska. Whenever I travel, I always bring my selfie stick, tripod and power bank with me. I also bought a DSLR camera to start taking cool pictures. I definitely agree on what you say about phones: they will never take better photos than cameras. I’m still learning how to use it though.
    I’ve never used a portable WiFi. What I do is get a SIM card and put it in my unlocked phone. So far this has worked for me.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Enrique,

      Yes, we believe they are applicable to any travel destination. While phone cameras have improved significantly and very useful for certain situations (e.g. quick shots), we believe nothing still beats the picture qualities of traditional cameras. We are on the same boat – still learning all the features. But we do enjoy it. Good luck to both of us!

  7. tyranique

    Hi JRand,

    Do you have any recommendations on where one can purchase a good portable wifi? Do you know if it has to be connected to your phone’s data?

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Tyra,

      These portable wifi does not need your phone data. They come with their own data and in fact, your phone can connect to the internet through them. We have updated the post above to reflect the link to the one we brought with us.

  8. Troy

    I have always wanted to do an Alaskan cruise and now I know exactly what to bring on the trip when I decide to go. Thanks, JRAndZEN

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Troy – Thanks and good luck on your future trip.

  9. Will

    Alaska, wow what a destination. Obviously this list is for budding photographers, I’d be too busy trying to stay warm lol.

    I love using traditional cameras just the way they feel in the hand, and the manual customization for when your out adventuring, this was a super helpful list for sure.

    Keep writing such great content, because I’ll come back and keep reading it 🙂

    All the best

    -Will :):)

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Will,

      We are glad you find the content useful. We will surely continue to share our travel experiences and insights.

  10. E Wilde

    This is an excellent resource because I have been wanting to go on a cruise in Alaska! It’s such a beautiful place and I am planning on going back. I am all about the portable power banks! You just never have enough ‘juice’ for all the gadgets we carry these days. And now I feel there are some additional items I need to buy. Thanks!

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Eric,

      Yes, portable power banks are very useful, particularly if you are out the whole day for onshore excursions.

  11. Cathy Allen

    I’ve been wanting to visit Alaska for years, so this is a fantastic article. I’d never heard of an RFID wallet. It’s great to know they exist. I agree that for a picturesque vacation, one should definitely have a real camera and not just a phone. The power bank should be a given, but I’d probably forget it, so it’s a great thing to mention. Thanks for publishing this!

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Cathy,

      You are welcome. Glad you liked the article. It is time to plan for your visit to this great destination.

  12. Athan

    Great content. Watching exploring in DW Documentary,makes me to do something that i haven’t done yet. This reminds me memories about me when i was a young kid and my beautiful and unforgettable village right in the edge of mountain.I would love to take a chance and visit it after 15 years, and i have been searching out what prorer accessories i need to take with me. By reading yours post i found out the important stuff and i would add that we need our good moon. Without good mood you will not having a good time….

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Athan,

      Yes, definitely a good mood, positive perspective and making sure that you have what you need would make the trip enjoyable and less stress.

  13. onealphabeta

    Hi,
    I havent been on an Alaskan cruise or on any cruise ship but this was an interesting read. I think that even if I go on something other than an Alaskan cruise that the information will definitely still apply to it.
    Thank you

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Andrew,

      Yes, the idea applies to trips on destinations other than Alaska.

  14. Lena

    Thanks for sharing, I would not forget to take a Selfie Stick now lol, and the Portable WiFi is a good idea, Never think of it before, Ok, I am ready for my Alaskan Cruise.

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Lena – Great. Thanks for the comment. Looking forward to hearing about your Alaskan cruise experience as well and the value you get from the essential gadgets you choose to bring.

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