2017 EDITOR'S PICKS
While planning a cruise vacation to Alaska is an undertaking best done a year or more in advance, there is still time to visit the Land of the Midnight Sun in 2015. Actually, the 2015 Alaska season has not started yet, with much of the state still frozen and days extremely short. In the first of a quick series highlighting our choices for best 2015 Alaska cruise experience, we begin with a top operator in the region, Holland America Line.
“There are few places in the world that lend themselves so naturally to be explored by combining a cruise with an overland adventure, and with 68 years as a leader in Alaska travel, we are renown for giving our guests the best of Alaska and the Yukon,” -Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line.
Holland America Line, along with Princess Cruises, continues to dominate options for a 2015 Alaska cruise vacation, as it has for 68 years. Between the two lines come the lions share of visitors to Alaska with more ships, tours, itineraries and land options than all others combined. There is good reason for that too, actually a number of reasons, and we begin with Holland America‘s popular Land+Sea Journeys.
Holland America Line’s popular Land+Sea Journeys (aka CruiseTours) combine an Alaska cruise with an overland exploration. Alaska 2015 guests can choose from 13 Land+Sea Journey options ranging from 10 to 20 days, bringing more ways than ever to see this remote and off-the-beaten path part of the world.
Unique to Holland America, they are the only cruise line to weave the must-see sights such as Denali National Park (included on every Land+Sea Journey) with the seldom-seen sights such as Dawson, City in the heart of Klondike Gold Rush Country in exclusive cruise and land packages to the North.
Cruise First Or Land First, Your Choice
The Holland America Line 2015 Alaska options can be done one of two ways, cruise-first or land-first. Either way, each combines a three- to seven-night Holland America Line cruise with a one-, two- or three-night stay at Denali National Park. Of special interest to first-time Alaska visitors and new for the Alaska 2015 season, Holland America Line guests may choose a competitively priced option if they have limited time: a 10-day Denali Land+Sea Journey that combines one night at Denali and a seven-night cruise.
Showcase Destinations Included On Each Sailing
The Land+Sea Journeys emphasize Holland America Line’s experience in showcasing the majesty of Alaska by sea, rail and road while maintaining premium standards throughout the entire vacation. Each Land+Sea Journey showcases places such as Dawson City, Yukon, in the heart of gold rush country; charming Seward, Alaska; the five-star Alyeska Resort; pristine Tombstone park; colorful Skagway, Alaska; and the historic narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Route railroad.
Last year, the line enhanced the program to include a one-hour flight between Fairbanks and Dawson City, bringing Alaska and the Yukon closer together and giving guests more time in the destinations.
New Holland America Exclusive Land Accommodations
Holland America Line also acquired the McKinley Chalet, a magnificent 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana River. The line is now able to offer Land+Sea Journey guests their own elegant wilderness retreat that features seamless hospitality and sustainable Alaskan cuisine. The hotel serves as the ideal base camp for all adventures at Denali National Park such as flightseeing, ATV adventures, hiking trails, river rafting and more. Accommodations were stylishly updated, and newly appointed mini-suites nestled along the river make for the ultimate retreat. A hotel enhancement program also saw extensive room updates and upgrades to soft goods and hotel décor in properties in Skagway, Fairbanks and Whitehorse.
Land+Sea Journeys that include Yukon and Denali
These range in length from 10 to 20 days and travel roundtrip Vancouver, British Columbia, or between Vancouver and Anchorage, Alaska. During these trips guests will enjoy scenic cruising along the Inside Passage and/or Glacier Bay before calling at Ketchikan, Juneau, Haines or Skagway, Alaska. In addition to Denali National Park, the overland portion includes Fairbanks and Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon.
Denali Land+Sea Journeys
range in length from 10 to 14 days and travel between Vancouver and Fairbanks or Anchorage, Alaska. Included is Glacier Bay scenic cruising where guests can explore the ice-studded fjords of this national treasure for a full eight hours as a park ranger narrates. Ports of call on the cruise portion include Haines or Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, while the overland portion features Denali and Fairbanks.
Included Wilderness Tours, Optional Cultural & Adventure Optional Activities
On double- and triple-night Yukon and Denali and Denali Journeys, the comprehensive six- to eight-hour Tundra Wilderness tour is included for the best way to see epic Denali National Park with its abundance of wildlife and Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. For adventure seekers there also are plenty of optional opportunities to go hiking, rafting, flightseeing and fishing.
Travel in Signature Style by Land and by Sea
Land+Sea Journeys feature luxurious glass-domed McKinley Explorer railcars with comfortable, forward-facing seats and expert commentary by guides between Denali and Anchorage. In addition, Holland America Line’s exclusive Explorer Coaches create a superior environment for traveling the highway between Skagway and Dawson City with roomy leather seats, lavish legroom and no more than 44 travelers.
Unique to the Holland America Line cruise experience, Alaska-inspired cuisine is featured throughout both cruise and land components. Optional meal plans have been expanded to include all Land + Sea Journeys and meals on days in Denali and Anchorage. Additionally, knowledgeable interpreters, Journey Hosts, Glacier Bay park rangers and Alaska travel guides are present on most Land+Sea tours and Alaska sailings.
Land+Sea Journeys fares begin at $899 per person, double occupancy. For more information about the Alaska Land+Sea Journeys program and Holland America Line, consult a travel professional, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Photos- Holland America Line