In the Bag

Monday Mantra

In the Bag

A luxury cruise to Alaska stretches packing strategies to the limit.


I will begin packing…I will begin packing…I will begin packing…


In just two days, I’ll be off to Vancouver to board Silver Shadow for an 11-day Alaska cruise. I’ll be combining two of the world’s most extraordinary travel experiences — Alaska and Silversea Cruises — and, unless I get moving, I won’t have a thing to wear.

I’ve always prided myself on my packing skills, condensing everything I need into a compact wheeled carry-on that slips easily into a plane’s overhead compartment. A week in the Caribbean? A carry-on. Nine days in the Med? A carry-on. An expedition trip around Iceland or a December Christmas Markets cruise along the Danube? A carry-on.

And then along comes Alaska and I’m, like, this is nuts.

My suitcase (I’ve abandoned any hope of carry-on) has been lying open and empty on my bedroom floor for a week, its little side pockets and zippered compartments mocking me each time I pass by. I’ve bookmarked a popular weather website and several times a day I check the forecast in each port hoping to see a new pattern that will convince me that I really don’t need to pack both a swimsuit and gloves.

But a heavier-than-usual suitcase is a small price to pay for an Alaska experience:  majestic landscapes, thunderous calving glaciers, breaching whales, and soaring eagles will show this New York City girl a whole new world and teach her that there’s more to wildlife than pigeons in Central Park and a few hardy squirrels out in the suburbs.

Tonight, I’ll pack what I’ll need for Alaska, the layers that I’ll pile on for the 40-degree mornings and remove as the temperature rises into the 70s. I’ll add hiking boots and comfortable walking shoes but I won’t forget some fabulous dresses and a pair of stiletto heels. After all, it is Silversea.

I love all sorts of cruising: voyages to cold climates and warm ones, the casual sailing and the elegant. I just never thought I’d be packing for all of them at the same time.

See you next week from the ship!


Alaska pic cropped

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.