Take it from a local, I know what works and what definitely DOESN'T! I've compiled a quick packing list of essential items to pack and answered common questions for your Alaskan Cruise this summer!
- Snow pants - unless you plan to spend ample time on the Ice Fields, they're completely unnecessary; and
- Uggs - If you're visiting the Inside Passage you're coming to one of the rainiest places in North America, your Uggs will become giant soggy messes.
Tourist season runs from May through the end of September. General temperatures will be anywhere from 50 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Weather is incredibly unpredictable so you must be prepared for everything including sideways rain from wind, to feeling like you're in the tropics!
- Packable rain resistant jacket;
- Rain pants if you're planning to be outdoors and exploring;
- Hat; a ball cap to protect from the rain, or a beanie/wool hat for warmth;
- Walking shoes - anything you can explore city streets and small trails. Within all of the ports you'll be pretty accessible to the town and surrounding trails;
- Boots - anything that can handle rain and terrain, I recommend XtraTuf;
- Fun shoes - for dressing up for formal nights or your regular street style;
- Jeans - one or two pairs;
- T Shirt;
- Layerable Sweater or two;
- Wool - anything wool (think long sleeve tops, long underwear, socks, hats, light gloves) will keep you warm and dry which is the only goal while visiting Southeast Alaska!
- Formal night outfits - You'll need at least two;
- Shorts, skirt, or a dress - for the rare day when it's 85 and gorgeous; and
- Swim suit.
- Plug in power strip - your cabin has limited outlets;
- Sunscreen - with extended daylight hours (midnight sun) you're exposed for a lot longer, plus being next to the water can really get you!
- Binoculars - it's impossible to NOT see wildlife;
- Insect repellent - we joke about it being the State bird...;
- Hand sanitizer - Cruise ships are literally floating petrie dishes;
- Day pack - for excursions, or general exploring. A packable backpack is great; and
- Umbrella - if you're not hardcore ;)
- American money? - Yes, turns out we are the 49th State in the US!
- Annual Check? - Yes, it's true! The annual Permanent Fund Dividend was created in the 70's as a way to distribute the wealth pouring from Alaska's oil fields in the north. An incredibly successful idea and currently has an account balance of over 60 billion dollars! Every year, the tax dollars from the industry are added to the account, then invested into stocks, bonds, realestate and more. Checks vary from $700 - $3,200, although in recent years our Governor has capped the amount at $1000/person as the State has needed to borrow funds from the account to cover deficits due to the drop in oil prices. All Alaskan's are eligible for this dividend, as long as you have been living in the State for one full year and prove it. That means that even two year olds receive this check!
- Average annual income? - In Juneau, the average annual income is $63,000/year, while the rest of Alaska has an average of $56,000/year. The national average is $48,000/year. These numbers have been on the rise, and this is the latest data available as of 2017.
- Bears? - You probably won't see any bears in the towns. However there are some to be seen at the Mendenhall Glacier, and on some excursion. For the most part it is relatively safe for travelers. The opposite is true when traveling to rural fishing villages! There are increasing number of Brown Bears being sighted and causing problems such as break ins that has become an annual threat each fall when hibernation is close.
- Cell phone service? - Nearly every major network will work. The smaller companies most likely won't because they have to lease cell phone towers from GCI (our State's major telecommunications carrier), or ATT&T. Verizon is newly established but also leases the same towers.
- How much rain? - You'll be traveling to the Tongass National Rainforest, the largest in North America, second in the world. Depending on where at within Southeast Alaska, the different areas can receive anywhere from 80 to 150+ inches of precipitation annually! (For real, pack your rain gear!)
- How much snow? - Every year is different, and since Climate Change is happening at a rate 3x faster than anywhere else in the world, we really see the effects.. In recent years, Juneau's local ski area has struggled to open due to lack of snow. In the last 10 years we've gone from the most snow out of any ski area in the entire world, to several years in a row of 45 degree January's with patches of green grass in people's yards! Also remember we are at sea level so we have a very moderate climate. Not a lot of temperature fluctuations even from winter to summer.
- Main food and diet? - Alaska-terians! We love our seafood from the sea, game from the inlands, berries, mushrooms, and anything that can be harvested from our beautiful country including beach asparagus and kelp! Of course you will find typical American food throughout grocery stores and restaurants but it is apart of our longstanding heritage to live a more subsistence based lifestyle. For some rural communities, the price of grocery items are incredibly expensive which push many Alaskans to hunt and fish.
- Main industries? - Southeast Alaska is very involved with fisheries. However in Juneau, the primary job source is government work since it is the Capital City, following commercial fishing. Other industries include tourism, technical, professional, and scientific services, mining, retail and trade, transportation, health care, and several other industries that help power the little city.
- Midnight Sun? - June 21st is our Summer Solstice! In Juneau (the Inside Passage and Alaska's Capital) we will get roughly 18 hours of daylight. Around midnight the sky will get dusky, you will need headlights but it won't truly go totally dark. By 3am the sun is back! The further north you travel the longer the daylight you'll see. For example in Fairbanks, they get 24hours of daylight!
- Realestate prices? - Juneau is priced much higher than the surrounding areas. In the Capital you can expect to pay anywhere from $350,000 to $600,000 for a two or three bedroom house. The rest of Southeast Alaska varies depending on town and main industry. There are very rural places with remote cabins that sell for $80,000.
- Recreation? - During summer months everyone is outdoors! Hiking, kayaking, exploring, fishing, working an extra job, basking in the sun. In winter, activities include snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding, ice skating (all of this of course during a La Nina year when it actually gets cold enough for snowfall) and Southeast Alaska is very artistic so there are several events that take place throughout the winter to keep our minds of the darkness!
What am I missing and how else can I help you pack, or questions can I answer?! Feel free to message me by commenting below, Instagram, Facebook, or email! I have been guiding for 10 years, so even if I don't know the answer I know where to find it!
12hrs in Downtown Juneau, Alaska - A Local's guide of what to do, where to go, eat, drink, and explore when you only have the day!
“Economic Indicators.” Juneau Economic Development Council, 18 Sept. 2017, www.jedc.org/economic-indicators.
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