Alaska Cruise with Denali Explorer
Holiday Ref: 16556
Embark on an unforgettable adventure! Witness some of the most spectacular scenery in the world as you cruise the famous Inside Passage north to Alaska. Disembark in Seward, Alaska where you will begin your Alaska land tour, home to the highest mountain in North America and Alaska’s Big Five: grizzly bears, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves and moose.
Based on June 2019 departure – other selected dates available June – August 2019 – call for details.
Upon arrival into Vancouver international Airport make your way independently to your downtown hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure.
Morning at leisure, then after lunch make your way independently to the Cruise Terminal where you will board your cruise ship ms Westerdam for a 7 night Alaska Cruise.
Alaska’s Inside Passage is a protected network of waterways that wind through glacier-cut fjords and lush temperate rain forests along the rugged coast of Southeast Alaska. Arguably one of the greatest cruising routes in the world, the Inside Passage stretches through stunning landscapes, from Misty Fjords National Monument to famed Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.
Sailing the Inside Passage offers opportunities to spot some of Alaska’s most iconic wildlife, with humpback whales and orca plying the bountiful waters alongside the ships, bald eagles soaring overhead and brown bears lumbering on the shoreline.
Numerous ports along the way recount Alaska’s colourful history. In Sitka, an onion-domed church marks Russia’s onetime foothold in the Americas; Ketchikan provides a glimpse of the Native Alaskan experience, with historic totem poles and native-arts galleries; and the legendary town centre of Skagway bustles as it did at the turn of the 19th century, when it served as the rowdy Wild West gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush.
Alaska’s “First City” of Ketchikan is so named because it’s the first major landfall for most cruisers as they enter the picturesque fjords of the Inside Passage, where the town clings to the banks of the Tongass Narrows, flanked by green forests nurtured by abundant rain.
Ketchikan has long been an important hub of the salmon-fishing and -packing industries—visitors can try their luck on a sportfishing excursion or simply savour the fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants. It is also one of the best spots along the Inside Passage to explore the rich cultural sights of Native Alaskan nations like the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. You can see intricately carved totem poles at the Totem Heritage Centre and Totem Bight State Park, while the attractions of Saxman Village just outside of Ketchikan offers the chance to see Tlingit culture in action, with working carvers and a dance show in the clan house. And leave time to explore the sights in the town itself, including historic Creek Street, a boardwalk built over the Ketchikan Creek, where you can shop for souvenirs, smoked salmon and local art, while exploring gold rush–era tourist attractions like Dolly’s House Museum.
Juneau, Alaska may well be the most remote, most beautiful and strangest state capital in the United States. Surrounded by water, forest and mountain sights, visitors seeking things to do in Juneau indoors and outdoors can hike a glacier, eat fresh-caught fish on a seaside patio and tour a grand capitol building all in one day.
The city itself is pleasant, but the real highlight of a visit to Juneau is tracking down some wildlife. You can hike up Mount Roberts to chance upon wild deer and bald eagles. Most sightseeing and whale-watching tours head north to Auke Bay—bring a good pair of binoculars to get the best view of these majestic and surprisingly graceful creatures. If you prefer land mammals, catch a floatplane to a nearby wildlife reserve such as Chichagof or Admiralty Island to spy some bears lolling around.
The sleepy, misty city of around 32,000—mostly fishermen and small-business owners—has a frontier town vibe, but welcomes more than a million visitors each summer to its natural attractions, cementing Juneau as Alaska’s number-one tourist destination.
At the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, the port town of Skagway served as the primary gateway to the legendary gold fields, and quickly grew into Alaska’s largest settlement. It was then a raucous frontier hub packed with trading posts, saloons and guesthouses. As the gold rush faded into the 1900s, so did Skagway—but today it has been reinvigorated as a gateway for a new kind of visitor: those looking to explore Alaska’s colourful history, pristine wildlife and unrivalled natural beauty.
At every turn, you’ll find yourself immersed in gold rush lore, from the infamous Red Onion Saloon that still keeps a pistol that Wyatt Earp left behind en route to the Klondike, to the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, a classic narrow-gauge railway that traverses rugged mountains and passes cascading waterfalls and towering glaciers as it connects Skagway to Whitehorse deep in the Yukon. Much of the town has been preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, where rangers offer free walking tours around the historic district. Here you’ll also find a vibrant local community, home to a rich collection of local galleries, curio shops and restaurants serving seafood plucked fresh from nearby waters.
Frosted crags descend into mossy forests and a 457-meter-deep (1,500-foot-deep) fjord at this World Heritage Site, which is also one of the planet’s largest biosphere reserves. Stone, ice and water continue to collide, sculpting a dramatic landscape that is the crown jewel of southeastern Alaska’s natural wonders.
The area’s first European explorer missed it all—but with good reason. When Captain George Vancouver sailed here in 1794, a vast shield of ice, more than 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) thick, dominated the area. In one of the fastest retreats on record, the glaciers shrank back 105 kilometers (65 miles) by 1916. The formerly glacier-squashed land is rebounding now, rising 30 millimeters (1.18 inches) each year. Visitors can observe this rebirth: A spruce-hemlock rain forest has sprouted near the mouth of Glacier Bay. Farther north, the more recently exposed land shows sharper edges and thinner vegetation. Still, it’s enough to encourage the return of wildlife, from bald eagles to bears, moose and humpback whales.
While the national park is open year round, most travellers prefer the warmth of late May to early September. Even in summer, be prepared for any weather—especially rain! Pack a hat, gloves, wool or fleece layers, a warm coat and waterproof gear if you want to admire the landscape from the open deck of your ship.
Disembark the ship and begin your coach adventure touring towards Anchorage; you will have the opportunity to enjoy spectacular scenery of scenic Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm. Few roads in the United States can offer the diversity of scenic landscapes and unique natural features all concentrated in one area. After a short stop in Anchorage continue to the Denali National Park Entrance. Your driver will give you some history of the area as you travel the George Parks Highway. Weather permitting; you can admire the marvellous views of Denali (Mount McKinley) – the tallest mountain in North America.
This morning is open for optional activities such as: whitewater rafting down the Nenana River, helicopter flightseeing over the Park, landing on a glacier, or hiking. After lunch (not included), board a shuttle to Kantishna. The 148km/92mi, 6-hour journey to Kantishna along the restricted Park Road is called one of the grandest drives on earth, with chances to see Grizzlies, moose, caribou and Golden eagles along the way. The end of the road is Kantishna and the Denali Backcountry Lodge, your home for the next 2 nights. You will arrive in time for dinner at the Lodge. (Dinner at the lodge is included today).
Nestled in a snug valley, the Denali Backcountry Lodge is a true wilderness experience, with your own heated cabin. The lodge is located at the end of the restricted 148km/92mi Park Road with just a small bush airstrip and the vast interior of Alaska beyond. You can experience activities such as: day hikes (casual, moderate, or extreme), view and photograph Denali (Mount McKinley), gold panning, botany walks, shuttle to Wonder Lake and mountain biking. You can also visit Fannie Quigley’s Cabin, home of one of the original miners from early in the twentieth century. Meals are served in the main two-story lodge. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner are included today).
An early departure this morning gives you another opportunity to view the magnificent scenery along the route back to the Denali National Park Entrance. After lunch (not included) board the Denali Star Train to Fairbanks. Enjoy the late afternoon scenery as you travel north to Fairbanks. (Dinner is included onboard the train today) Overnight Fairbanks.
Start the morning with a riverboat cruise along the Chena River (prices available on request), lunch on the deck at the riverside restaurant and try your hand at gold panning or visit the Alaska Museum of the North, one of the top 10 visitor attractions.
Check out of your hotel early and make your way to the airport for your flight back to the UK.