The Absolute Best of Western Canada & Alaska 2020 Extravaganza
Holiday Ref: 16500
Enjoy a 5 night pre-cruise experience in the stunning Canadian Rockies, the highlight of which will be a spectacular two-day rail trip from Banff to Vancouver in a glass-domed railcar onboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Sit back, relax and enjoy GoldLeaf Service, featuring five star cuisine, complimentary drinks, and an exclusive outdoor viewing platform.
From Vancouver you will sail north to Alaska onboard Viking’s Orion, where glaciers steal the show. Witness the abundance of wildlife from whales, bears & sea otters. What an unforgettable experience!
Based on a departure date of 30th July 2020.
Flights can be arranged from your regional airport - Call for details!
Fly into Calgary International Airport, where a Representative will greet you and accompany you to the Fairmont Banff Springs (or similar), which is set right within Banff National Park. After check-in, the rest of the day is yours to explore this charming resort town at your leisure. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner. Your Tour Director is available to help you plan your time in the Canadian Rockies so you can make the most of your visit.
Yoho means “awe and wonder” in the native Cree language, and when you behold Yoho National Park today, you will agree that it more than lives up to its name. Situated on the western slopes of the Continental Divide, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a stunning panorama of cascading waterfalls, sheer vertical rock walls and snow-capped mountains. More wonder awaits in Banff National Park at the iconic Lake Louise, a shock of bright turquoise water ringed by dramatic mountain peaks. You will take in its beauty from the grounds of the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. On your way back to your hotel you will pass glacier-fed Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Upon your return to Banff, enjoy a leisurely dinner on your own and free time to explore Canada’s liveliest mountain resort town.
After breakfast, you may join an optional excursion to the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. Riding along the spectacular Icefields Parkway in a snow coach, you will behold the largest body of ice in the Rockies and the Athabasca Glacier, whose ice is nearly 1,000 feet thick. Alternatively, you may remain in Banff, enjoying free time to browse the downtown boutiques or stroll to scenic Bow Falls. You might also revisit Banff history at the fascinating Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies or learn about Banff’s First Nations people at the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum. This evening, enjoy dinner on your own at your hotel or at one of the many world-class restaurants in town.
Today you will embark upon one of the world’s most spectacular train journeys, riding into the heart of British Columbia on board the Rocky Mountaineer’s plush, glass-domed railcar. Our route takes us into pristine wilderness that would otherwise be inaccessible, scaling peaks, weaving along silver canyons and tracing jewel-like lakes. Along with the scenery, you will enjoy refined service, gourmet dining and complimentary drinks. After crossing the Continental Divide, pass by Craigellachie, where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven in 1885. Disembark in Kamloops, where you will spend the night in the First-Class Hotel 540 (or similar).
Enjoy another full day of jaw-dropping landscape back on board the Rocky Mountaineer. Your route follows the steep slopes and rock sheds along the Thompson River, passing old frontier towns and traversing the Fraser Canyon. Marvel as the scenery changes from semidesert grasslands to lush green fields and a temperate rainforest. Our destination is cosmopolitan Vancouver, nestled between the Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean. After transferring to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (or similar), you may enjoy dinner on your own and a relaxing evening.
After breakfast, enjoy a guided tour of Vancouver’s highlights. See Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre haven of beaches, gardens, totem poles and forest trails that is considered one of the greatest urban parks in the world. In Gastown, you will admire the restored Victorian architecture, galleries, shops and pubs that once comprised the city’s old district. After some free time this afternoon for independent exploration, transfer to your awaiting ship to begin your cruise.
Take in the natural splendor of one of Alaska’s most scenic waterways, the famed Inside Passage. You will navigate the Strait of Georgia, the Seymour Narrows and the Grenville Channel, reveling in an endless canvas of beauty. Sail past rainforests spilling down steep cliffs to the shore. Keep a watchful eye for orcas, dolphins and whales. Overhead, a wide array of birds take wing, from bald eagles and cormorants to several species of gulls, all feeding on the plentiful bounty of fish in the waters below.
Discover Alaska’s “first city,” as it is known to travelers coming by ship from the south. Ketchikan was home to the Tlingit long before the arrival of white settlers, as you’ll see in the many old and new totem poles that grace the town. During a tour, walk in the footsteps of lumberjacks, fishermen, con artists and ladies of the night in this once lawless frontier town, and embark an amphibious vehicle for a unique “Duck Boat” tour. If you’d like to venture beyond the town, visit Tongass National Forest and Misty Fjords National Monument, where seaplanes and 4x4 vehicles take you beyond the beaten path.
Glimpse the Russian influence in Sitka, once the capital of Russian Alaska. Enjoy an enlightening walking tour to learn more about the fur trade that brought the Russians here. See the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House, built by the Tlingit with guidance from Finnish carpenters in the 1840s. As you explore, you will see many art galleries displaying the work of artists who have been inspired by the region’s natural beauty for decades. If you’d like, board a plane or boat for inspiring views of Mt. Edgecumbe, an extinct volcano on a nearby island.
Call on Alaska’s capital of Juneau on the Gastineau Channel. Named for an early prospector, it is the only US capital inaccessible by road, and so all goods and visitors must arrive via sea or air. Marvel at its fjord-like, dramatic setting between mountains and sea as you take a drive to pan for gold in the spirit of the city’s early days. If you wish, enjoy spectacular views of the Alaskan state capital from the Mount Roberts Tramway or embark a small boat to the Mendenhall Glacier, spotting porpoises and whales along the way.
Visit Skagway, named for a mythical woman who turned herself to stone at Skagway’s bay. Gateway for prospectors arriving to reap the benefits of the Klondike gold rush in the Canadian Yukon, the town today evokes an Old West spirit. Enjoy a brief tour before taking a scenic drive up to White Pass like the gold diggers of old, pausing at the Canadian border for photos. You may choose instead to make the journey aboard the fabled White Pass Railroad, or visit a sled dog camp to learn about a generations-old tradition.
Discover the old canning station at Icy Strait Point today. Fully restored by the Native American Tlingit community from nearby Hoonah, it is an exquisite time capsule revealing how locals once earned a living from the rich fishing grounds. Celebrate the Tlingit culture during a cultural presentation by locals in traditional ceremonial dress. You might also join a whale-watching excursion to spot some of the many creatures that flock to these food-rich waters. Or hop a floatplane to soar over the breathtaking expanse of Glacier Bay National Park, just across the strait
Today you will witness some of Alaska’s most breathtaking and pristine scenery. Cruise into majestic Yakutat Bay to the point where it narrows to become Disenchantment Bay, so named by its Spanish discoverer who was hoping to find the fabled Northwest Passage and instead faced the imposing icy wall of Hubbard Glacier. Today, the spectacular glacier steadily advances into the water, blocking tributary fjords and slowly pushing ice and debris down from the St. Elias Mountains.
Call in Valdez today, named after a Spanish secretary of the navy. Explorers and gold seekers flocked to Valdez before it became Alaska’s northernmost ice-free port. Today, it is the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that carries oil south from Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic coast. Learn about the town’s history during a walking tour. Or opt for an excursion to the magnificent Columbia Tidal Glacier in Prince William Sound, and perhaps try your luck catching some of Alaska’s famous salmon.
Discover Seward today, a modest seaport named after Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state, who defied public opinion to pursue the purchase of Alaska from Russia. The small city is also renowned as the starting point of the world-famous Iditarod dogsled race. Explore the Alaska SeaLife Center, where you will learn about the marine world that thrives right off the coast. If you wish, venture farther afield to Katmai National Park to visit Exit Glacier or capture breathtaking aerial views from an optional helicopter excursion.
Disembark your ship this morning and transfer to the airport for your flight home.