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The Ultimate Expedition Cruise Packing List

Preparing for your polar expedition

Travelling to the polar regions is one big adventure for which you want to be well prepared. Trying to pack all your gear for such an expedition cruise can be difficult, especially when it’s your first time. There is nothing more annoying than arriving at your destination to find out you forgot to pack something important. Therefore, we created this Expedition Cruise Packing List. Providing you with all the essential items for your trip of a lifetime. Whether you are packing for Antarctica or an expedition in the Arctic, our pakcing list will prepare you for whatever nature throws at you!


  • Parka: An expedition jacket or parka is usually provided on expedition cruises. It’s one of the most essential items to keep you warm. If it’s not provided on board, bring your own waterproof parka or winter coat.
  • Waterproof trousers: Another essential piece which you will need during zodiac rides and landings. Especially in high waves or when it’s snowing. It might also occur that you have a ‘wet landing’ which means you will enter the landing site from a beach and your feet/trousers will get wet.
  • Warm trousers: Highly recommended, especially during zodiac rides where you might get cold while sitting on the rubber tube. Also when spending time on deck you might need these as it can be very windy. A perfect example of warm trousers you can use are ski pants. You can wear your waterproof trousers on top of your ski pants.
  • Thermal underwear: Always bring multiple sets of thermal underwear. The base layer of your daily outfit during landings. Also woollen or thermal socks are highly recommended!
  • Fleece jackets or sweaters: Preferably woollen sweaters or fleece jackets to go over your thermal underwear.
  • T-shirts or turtlenecks: For your time onboard or for warmer days it’s nice to have some lighter clothing.
  • Gloves: Essential to bring several pairs. Think of under-gloves and mittens. Also keep in mind that you will need to be able to use your camera while wearing your gloves.
  • Hat: Bring a fleece or woollen hat to keep your head warm!
  • Scarf or buff: Keeps your neck warm. A buff is very useful as it can be worn in different ways.
  • Rubber boots: Most likely these are provided on board. If not provided by the operator, bring rubber/muck boots that are mid-calf or higher as you might have wet landings. Nothing is more annoying than cold, wet feet during a landing.
  • Shoes: While out on deck you will need some sturdy (warm) walking shoes, as it can be slippery outside. You might also want to bring some comfortable footwear (e.g. sneakers) for your leisure time inside.
  • Ship attire: On board most expedition cruises the dress code is informal at all occasions. Slightly dressier attire (e.g. a collared shirt or blouse) is appropriate for the Captain’s dinner but not mandatory.
  • Every day clothes: Bring some ‘every day clothes’ when you want to extend your trip. For example, bring summer clothes when travelling to Antarctica via Buenos Aires.
  • Swimsuit: On many polar expeditions you will get a chance to do a ‘polar plunge’, so a swim suit might come in handy!


  • Waterproof backpack: To bring your camera and other gear to shore dry and safe.
  • Sunglasses: One of the most essential items when travelling to the polar regions. Even on cloudy days you will need to wear your sunglasses, preferably with U.V. filter.
  • Sun-block: Even though it might be cold, the sun can be powerfull. Especially useful for your face and lips.
  • Binoculars: Sometimes wildlife might not occur near your zodiac or the expedition vessel. You don’t want to mis seeing that polar bear because it’s just too far out to see without binoculars.
  • Glasses: When wearing glasses it is best to bring one spare pair of glasses.
  • Ski goggles: These can be nice to wear on zodiac rides when the weather is bad with lots of wind and snow.
  • Camera gear: Bring several lenses, extra charger/batteries and an extra memory card. If you have a GoPro with waterproof casing, it is fantastic to bring it. For example you might be able to film penguins under water!
  • External hard-drive: For those who would like to save photos directly onto a hard-drive.
  • Laptop: To edit your photos. Please note there usually is no wifi on board.
  • E-reader: If you love reading, but are unable to bring books due to weight restrictions. Especially during sea days or while travelling to your destination it is lovely to have a book on hand.
  • Earplugs: you never know (when sharing a cabin) if your roommate snores.
  • Medicine: Seasickness pills and/or prescription medicines. If you have any health problems, please let your physician write a (dated) letter stating health problems and dosage of medications.


  • Rule number 1 in expedition travel is: Stay dry! Because once you get wet, you will get cold very quickly. So make sure to wear a waterproof outer layer.
  • Wear layers, as the weather can change quickly. It can be freezing cold when sitting still in a zodiac, but once you go ashore for a hike you will get warm quickly.
  • When flying to remote places, we recommend to put some essentials (clothing, underwear etc) in your hand luggage. Just in case your luggage is delayed or lost.
  • Choose a canvas travel bag or backpack instead of a hard case, as there might not be a lot of storage space in your cabin.
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