Travel in Alaska

I am getting ready to go on the Grand Alaska tour. Is a sport coat really necessary for my husband? Can he get by with a nice shirt and sweater vest? Seems like a waste of packing space for one night.


  • edited June 28

    We are taking this tour in two weeks. My husband has never taken a jacket on any of our many Tauck tours before, There just isn’t room in the suitcase. Maybe if two suitcases were allowed. But we have never been on a cruise ship and this time he so far feels pressured to take one….but if he starts packing and finds there is no room, who knows. We go on these vacations to see the world and meet people, not to falsely represent ourselves by wearing jackets etc it means nothing…don’t even say it’s anything to do with respect, respect is being well behaved and pleasant to the TD, people you meet, and I haven’t always observed that. If this was not the only way to see Alaska, we would not be taking this tour. I feel sure that the majority of Tauck travelers these days do not want the formality. I realize that this tour is partially run by Princess, so it is different, but why Tauck constantly talk about wearing resort wear and jackets on tours, I just don’t get it. I haven’t done my packing yet except I have pulled out a couple of dressy outfits, so I take this, or that? What a waste of pressure for a vacation! We always look neat and coordinated on tour and wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather and terrain, many do not, I think that is where the emphasis should be.
    Just my opinion, flag me if you like

  • We've taken two Princess cruises to Alaska (not with Tauck). I may be getting more cynical in my old age, but I think part of the reason cruise ships push formal nights is the fact that they have multiple backdrops where you can have your picture taken - and then of course purchase the pictures. We did dress up - and yes, bought some pictures - but I think it is a personal choice. If people feel pressured to do something they really don't want to do, it takes away from the experience.

  • British, you’re 100% correct. I’m sure you look marvelous as I do. Space adds up in a suitcase faster than you can blink an eye. I’d rather concentrate on comfy shoes and every day clothes instead of the seldom if ever used evening wear. Save the dressy clothes for when you’re home, and even then people rarely dress up anymore. It is nice to rise to the occasion but not necessary while traveling. You’ll feel liberated. Men do not need a sportscoat for Alaska. A nice short with people with a vest or sweater is appropriate. Alaska is the last frontier!

  • First of all, I think it's ridiculous that cruise lines still have formal nights, especially on itineraries like Alaska or the Caribbean - but they do. It may be a relic of bygone days, but it hangs on for some reason. At least they don't require tuxedos, as they did in my parent's day.

    When we took this trip in 2018, a coat on the formal night was very much the standard. In fact, many of the men were wearing suits (!). Most wore ties (I didn't). One young man in our group wore only a dress shirt and was seated. He was literally the only one of hundreds of men in the dining room without a coat. Our TD said that the maître d' would not seat one gentleman on the tour because he didn't even have a dress shirt on (I forget if it was someone in our group or just a story about a previous tour). So, if you're a man and not wearing coat, it's up to the maître d' whether or not you get seated. If you don't wear a coat and do get seated, you may be the only one in the room. I would recommend bringing a coat. I also wore mine to the specialty restaurants, though it wasn't required. If you don't get seated in the main dining room, the other option was the buffet, which was a huge step down in quality. I'm not sure if the buffet is even running with Covid.

  • For me on the Tauck cruises (small ship or riverboat) the dress code is what my wife tells me it is (Happy Wife, Happy Life). I do the prescribed amount of moaning if I think she is opting for too formal. My moaning works sometimes, sometimes it doesn't. As such, for some cruises I've worn a coat and tie, for others coat and dress shirt but no tie, and still others have just been slacks and a nice shirt.

    I agree with Cathy's assessment above.

    This is YOUR vacation. You are paying for it. You have your expectations and needs. No one on a forum can or should
    tell you how to dress. They can offer suggestions based on THIER perceptions which may or not coincide
    with YOUR perceptions.

  • I think I remember my dad buying a white dinner jacket for a Tauck cruise-a bajillion years ago! :D

  • Alan - Bajillion = 1x10?

  • AlanS - Was that Tauck cruise your Dad took on the Mayflower? 😀

  • So many opinions, this is great! I have one further thing to say, how does one equate wearing informal clothing with eating pizza and burgers, we rarely, very rarely eat them. So we all pay top dollar for a cruise and if we are not wearing one particular item of clothing, we can’t eat decent food! Life sure is a mystery. It’s not even inconvenient when you compare having to find a mall on an African safari because one of your fellow tour members hasn’t got any suitable shoes to do the gorilla trek, yep, had to do that on our tour!

  • We are in the thinking stages of doing a cruise for 2023 and the dress up part is one of my concerns. I ditched all of my suits when I started to work in the tech industry. I only have a blazer now. In researching this I found a website on Frommer’s that compares the dress codes on all the cruise lines.

  • JohnS - Interesting article. Wish it covered Ponant and the river cruise companies.

  • These are the recent updated guidelines for cruises in Alaska

    UPDATED: Will I have to wear a face mask?
    Masks are recommended, but not required, in the majority of venues, though they may be required in select venues or situations. Please note that in an abundance of caution masks are required at all indoor locations on northbound and southbound Alaska voyages between Whittier and Vancouver until further notice. Masks will be provided to guests if needed.

    This will be clearly designated through signage and onboard communications.

    We recommend guests wash or replace their mask daily and choose a good quality mask. Masks should have two or more layers, completely cover the nose and mouth, fit snuggly against the sides of the face and have a nose wire. Please note that visors and face shields will not be accepted as a substitute for a face mask.

    We'll provide complimentary surgical masks on board with replacements available upon request.

    Additionally, when going ashore, guests should be prepared to follow all local health guidelines, the status of which will be shared with guests prior to debarkation at the destination

  • Can't speak for all river cruise companies but I've noticed that Scylla staff are more casual than our first cruise in 2014. In 2019 the crew including the wait staff wore polo shirts with Scylla logos during the day. For dinner it was white dress shirts and black slacks. The only time I wore a dress.was for the palace dinner in Vienna but that was personal preference.

    The other thing I wonder about with Tauck is why they continue to suggest cotton clothing for tours when there are now so many blend fabrics for Travel that are lighter and can be sink washed if absolutely necessary.

    Talking of cruise ship formal wear just reminds me of the Love Boat. I adored that tv show and now you'd have to drag me on board a big cruise ship like that. B)

  • Cathy - They wouldn’t buy that Steve’s tank top was a normal tee shirt that his massive, muscular physique just made it look like a tank top. 😀

  • Hey, wait a minute Sam. I'm the one who is supposed to do the jokes around here... :)

  • Claudia Sails
    Can't speak for all river cruise companies but I've noticed that Scylla staff are more casual than our first cruise in 2014. In 2019 the crew including the wait staff wore polo shirts with Scylla logos during the day. For dinner it was white dress shirts and black slacks. The only time I wore a dress was for the palace dinner in Vienna but that was personal preference.

    The Wind Star Deck and Hotel staff on Treasures of the Aegean were similarly dressed.

    The captain and officers mostly wore what we in the Navy called tropical whites but would sometimes wear monogrammed polo shirts as did other deck hands and engineers, if they had any contact with passengers. I don't think I ever saw the Captain in a dress uniform which we called chokers in the Navy (or a dress- the captain, Belinda Bennett, was a woman (a story in itself) and was from Saint Helena (another story), the tiny island off the coast of Africa where Napoleon was imprisoned and subsequently died.

    Here she is with other Windstar captains.

  • edited July 2

    On my 2015 P&O cruise around the English Channel there was a formal evening. I just skipped it. And people actually show up in their bathrobes on P&O's White Nights. Impractical enough packing a sport coat; can you imagine bringing a white jacket? Appropriate for the Captain and crew of course. (p.s. I was the only North American among 700 on this cruise; I guess packing was easier for those driving to Southampton.)

  • Actually, the only practical jacket my husband has is a white tuxedo jacket! We bought it on a visit to England because they are cheaper there and good quality. It has a special finish and can be put in the washing machine. He wore it for a function just a couple of weeks ago, I washed it and threw it n the dryer and it came out perfect. The first time he wore it, someone bumped into him and spilled red wine all down the front of the jacket and it just rolled right off.

  • British - I didn’t know they sold vinyl jackets in England, 🤓

  • BSP51 - the technical term is pleather.

  • Ha ha, just good ‘finish’ product on the fabric

  • British - Mr, B looks a lot younger than you in that picture.

  • I know that gratuities are included in the cost of the trip with the exception of the bus driver and your TD. What about the cabin Stewards on the ship? I've never cruised before so am uncertain. How often? Daily? End of a cruise? The approximate amount which is expected (I could always go over for exceptional service, I know.)

  • edited August 1

    Cabin stewards, like all ship personnel are taken care of by Tauck. On most, if not all cruises (not land/cruise tours), gratuities for the Tauck Cruise Director and Tauck tour directors are also taken care of (it is included in the cost of the tour.) If you want to add additional for special or above and beyond personal service, that is up to you.

  • All tips are included for staff on the ship. You tip the TD. There are two different bis drivers on the land tour. The drivers are splitting their work right now in the different areas of Alaska. So you will need money for both drivers on their land part. You will not need to tip any drivers on the cruise portion.
    I hope you like cruising, we didn’t, it was our first cruise experience, crowded and boring whilst on the ship.

  • British, I agree with you about the Princess ship. Our only big ship cruise and we swore we'd never take another. The saving grace of the Grand Alaska tour is the itinerary, especially the land portion. The small ship cruises (all the other Tauck cruises) are much more enjoyable - more like a river cruise. There is the occasional sea day, which can be boring. Bring a book or download some video before you leave to keep yourself entertained.

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