Ultimate Luxury Alaska & Canadian Rockies by Rail
Holiday Ref: 16163
Price based on a 3rd June 2018 departure.
Weekly departures May - September 2018 & 2019. Call for details.
Experience all the iconic wonders of Alaska: the towering virgin forests along the Inside Passage, the thunderous calving of glaciers and impressive humpback whales breaching in the Kenai Fjords. You’ll stroll the plank catwalks of Ketchikan’s quirky Creek Street and marvel at the colourful, Russian-costumed New Archangel Dancers in Sitka. But with Seabourn, you’ll also step ashore in tiny Klemtu, British Columbia, where the Kitasoo and Xai'xais townspeople greet you face to face, proudly display their ceremonial finery and familiarize you with a heritage thousands of years old. You’ll glide up close to Misty Fjords’ glittering waterfalls in a Zodiac, and paddle a kayak on a wildlife-spotting expedition in tranquil Tracy Arm.
Complete this unforgettable adventure with a journey onboard the award-winning Rocky Mountaineer Train. Be indulged in luxurious surroundings, a gourmet culinary experience and some of the most stunning scenery as the backdrop, the entire experience is second to none. Roaming wildlife, tumbling waterfalls and snowcapped mountain peaks are just a few of the reasons why this is a truly unique way to see the majestic Canadian Rockies.
Upon arrival into Vancouver and after clearing immigration, you will be met and greeted and transferred by Sedan to your Vancouver Hotel. The Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight: Vancouver
Today you will embark on a 12 night Ultimate Alaska Cruise onboard Seabourn’s Sojourn. Overnight: Onboard Ship
The southeastern-most town in Alaska is also arguably its most colorful. Ketchikan’s early history is forever tied to the rollicking brothels lining the raised wooden catwalks that snake along Creek Street. Here a pioneering population of enterprising women provided rest and recreation for the predominantly male workforce powering the timber and fishing industries of the Southeast. Founded in 1885, the town is the state’s oldest continuously governed municipality, having been incorporated in 1900. But Ketchikan also celebrates its earlier heritage. The city is a treasury of Native American culture, with the largest collection of Native totem poles in the world. The Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, Saxman native village and the Totem Heritage Center display both originals and reproductions created over the years by carvers trained in the traditional symbolism and craft. A restored salmon cannery shows how the city became the Salmon Capital of the World, and a visit to a hatchery reveals contemporary efforts to ensure the continuation of this vital resource. Tours of the nearby Misty Fjords National Monument are available by air or sea, and sport fishing is also popular with visitors. A visit to the Native American village of Metlakatla on Annette Island provides an in-depth look at the local Tsimshian and Haida-Tlingit cultures both past and present.
Alaska’s first capital had been an active village of native Tlingit people for over 10,000 years when the Russian Alexander Baranov arrived by sea in 1799 and established his Fort Archangel Michael. His presumption as the Tsar-appointed Governor of Russian America evidently aggravated the Tlingits to the extent that in 1802 they stormed the fort and decimated the Russian population, taking a number captive and forcing the others to flee. Baranov returned two years later with a military force and re-established the community which he renamed New Archangel. It served as the capital of Russian America until the purchase of Alaska in 1867. The reminders of its Russian heritage are everywhere in Sitka, and the city contains 22 buildings that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Among the most recognizable are the copper-domed St. Michael’s Cathedral, the Pioneer Home and the Russian Bishop’s House. It was here that the contract of sale was signed that ended Russia’s American adventure and transferred the Alaska territory to the United States. Ironically, Sitka saw the first Native Alaska Brotherhood formed here in 1912 to oppose race discrimination against native people, and the Native Brotherhood Hall was built in 1914. Favorite sights for visitors include traditional Russian performances by the New Archangel Dancers and visits to the fascinating Alaska Raptor Center. Sport fishing for salmon and halibut are also popular, as are various activities in the nearby Tongass rainforest including fly-in hikes and jet-boat tours to view wildlife in the surrounding waters
Icy Strait Point is a unique community on Chichagof Island near the entry to Glacier Bay National Park. It was created and is owned by a corporation of over 1300 Native Americans of various local Tlingit tribes, for the purpose of offering visitors an enjoyable, educational experience of Alaska’s native cultures, as well as the human and natural history of the region. Your tender will dock at the historic 1912 salmon canning facility, which today is a museum. The surrounding grounds offer cultural performances, Native American-owned shops and galleries, restaurants and a variety of tours and excursions for every interest from sport fishing to whale watching, guided nature walks and excursions to view bears and other wildlife, ATV tours and even a zipline adventure that is said to be the longest (over a mile) and highest (over 1330 feet of drop) in North America. The small village of Hoonah is just over a mile away, and can be reached either by walking or on a shuttle. It also has shops and eateries, as well as a totem-carving enterprise run by the corporation. The Huna Totem Corporation maintains complete control of the content and access to the community, which has won a number of prestigious awards for its sustainable approach to exploiting the natural and historical heritage of Alaska and its native peoples for their benefit.
Alaska’s capital is inaccessible by road, due to the rugged surrounding terrain. Set beside the deep Gastineau Channel in the state’s Southeastern panhandle, it was founded as a mining camp by Joe Juneau in 1880, and was the first Alaskan town officially established after the purchase of the territory by the United States. It was designated as the capital in 1906, after its important mining and fishing industries eclipsed the waning whaling and fur trades at the former capital Sitka. Today seasonal tourism is its second most important enterprise, after only government administration. The town receives visitors with colorful floral displays in summer, and offers an impressive range of options for experiencing its heritage and the bounty of natural attractions near by. In the mountains back of town, the huge Juneau Icefield spawns no fewer than 30 glaciers, including the mighty Mendenhall Glacier, the only glacier within a city’s limits. Juneau’s extensive limits enfold over 3,200 square miles, making the borough larger than the U.S. states of Rhode Island or Delaware. It is also the only state capital that shares a border with a foreign country (Canada). Popular adventures for visitors include flight tours by seaplane or helicopter, many including landing on glaciers; whale-watching and wildlife viewing excursions by boat; sport fishing for salmon or huge Alaskan halibut; dogsled mushing and panning for gold in sites such as Gold Creek. Hiking tours visit the Tongass National Forest, and there is also a breathtaking mountain tramway at Mt. Roberts
Likely the earliest European community on America’s northwest coast, the town was located on Wrangell Island in Alaska’s Inside Passage. Its location at the mouth of the Stikine River was important for millennia to the Tlingit people of the region for trade with the interior. The Russian Baron Ferdinand Wrangel built his Fort St. Dionysius adjacent to an existing Tlingit fortress in 1811, attracted by the abundant otter, seal and beaver populations. In 1839, the fort was leased to the British Hudson’s Bay Company, which renamed it Fort Stikine. Initial Tlingit resistance to the British appropriation of the Stikine River trade route was stifled by catastrophic smallpox epidemics among the natives. But within a decade the Company managed to decimate the fur resource. Fishing and timber remained important to the local economy, as they do today. But the fortunes of Wrangell were transformed by its strategic location on the routes of the Klondike Gold Rushes. The Stikine River was the earliest route of prospectors into the Klondike goldfields, and the town remained an important staging area for successive waves of miners en route northward. The whole history of the town is wonderfully presented in the small but impressive Wrangell Museum. Visitors are thrilled by close encounters with black and brown bears at the nearby Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory. They also are enchanted by the prehistoric artworks at Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park, and the colorful reproductions of Tlingit cultural icons at the Chief Shakes House and Totem Park.
Like many towns on the Pacific coast of North America, Prince Rupert was founded on the site of First Nations communities that had thrived for millennia. The town was founded in 1910 and named for Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the 17th century Duke of Cumberland and governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The vision of the current city was that of Charles Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, who recognized its deep, ice-free harbor as the natural northwestern terminus of the North American railway network. He traveled to Europe to solicit development funds for his dream, but perished during his return on the ill-fated liner Titanic. Prince Rupert is today the closest year-round rail terminal to the vast markets of Asia. It is also an important center for tourism, being a hub for ferry, cruise and rail traffic between Canada, Alaska and the lower forty-eight U.S. states. The town itself offers visitors sites of interest such as the attractive sunken gardens located behind its City Hall. The Museum of Northern British Columbia and its Totem Carving Shed illustrate the First Nations and later historic development of the town. The North Pacific Cannery Museum reflects the importance of fishing as a local industry, and the Kwinitsa Station Railway Museum preserves one of the few remaining stations of the Grand Trunk system. Many visitors are drawn by the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, which features one of the densest populations of these magnificent creatures anywhere. Hikes at the Butze Rapids Park and Trail and along the elevated catwalks and suspension bridges at the Metlakatla Wilderness Trail provide more direct access to the area’s lush coastal rain forest.
On Swindle Island in the fjords of the British Columbia coast, Klemtu is a town of fewer than 500 people belonging to the Kitasoo Native Band. No one really knows how long the Kitasoo and the Xais-Xais groups occupied the site, but there were permanent villages here long before Europeans arrived. In the 1920s, the China Hat Cannery was established, which is now owned by the Band and is the main employer. Another source of income is the expert interpretive guiding of visitors to the region and performances of traditional dances. The town has a Big House as well as a gallery and museum. The town is located adjacent to the Great Bear Rainforest, a preserve dedicated to the protection of the native populations of grizzly, black and Kermode bears. The Kermode bears, sometimes called Spirit Bears, are an indigenous race of bears that seasonally change from white to light gold or tan in color, and have long been considered sacred to the Kitasoos. They are a separate race, and not albinos, having black eyes and noses. Visitors are attracted by the exceptional opportunity to see a Kermode bear in the wild
This tiny Namgis First Nations community on Cormorant Island welcomes its few visitors with rare insights into the region’s aboriginal cultures. Aside from the town, the rest of the island comprises two Indian Reserves. Totem poles can be viewed from the road at the island Burial Grounds, and the town boasts the world’s tallest totem. In the early 20th century, the Canadian government attempted to quash the traditional potlatch wealth distribution rituals of the First Nations people by confiscating the masks, baskets, copper plates and other regalia that were used in the ceremonies. After persistent negotiations, the Namgis have had their artifacts restored, and these rarities are displayed at the U’mista Cultural Centre. A traditional Namgis Big House is also located at Alert Bay, and traditional rituals are sometimes performed there. In the nearby forest, it is possible to view old-growth cedar trees which have been uniquely scarred by generations of Namgis artisans stripping their bark for use in creating clothing, baskets and for other traditional uses.
Disembark the ship and transfer (included) to your overnight hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight: Vancouver
This morning you will depart your hotel on a tour which begins with an introduction to downtown including Canada Place, and Robson Street. Wind through historic and modern architectural wonders en route to Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre natural oasis, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. View the First Nations Totem Poles, and gaze upon rainforest and shoreline scenery on the way through the park. Get the camera ready for a photo stop at Prospect Point, with a great view of Lions Gate Bridge. Continue to the English Bay beach area, followed by the eclectic Granville Island Market. Top off this adventure with a glass elevator ride 169 metres above the streets, at the Vancouver Lookout, for views of the ocean, the Coastal Mountains, the city and rugged shoreline. This tour is a great introduction to the scenic and historic highlights of Vancouver. Overnight: Vancouver
Today you will travel onboard the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Kamloops. Travel through the Fraser Valley which gives way to the towering peaks of the Coast Mountains. Pass the raging waters of Hell’s Gate. Overnight: Kamloops
Your journey continues east along the South Thompson River and onwards to Rogers Pass. Climb through the engineering marvel of the Spiral Tunnels, and end your journey in the resort town of Banff and you overnight hotel. Overnight: Banff
This morning board your coach for a 4 ½ hour Explore Banff tour including a ride on the Gondola. Learn about the people, geology and wildlife while exploring the spectacular sights of the renowned mountain town of Banff. This excursion is highlighted with a journey on the Banff Gondola for a 360º view of six mountain ranges that surround the town. After a brief stop at Lake Minnewanka you will be dropped at your hotel, and the remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight: Banff
Day at leisure to explore more of the beautiful mountain town.
Today Transfer by Coach from Banff to Calgary Airport for your return flight back to the UK