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 Holland America vs. Princess in Alaska

 

What's the real difference between a Holland America and a Princess Cruise or Cruisetour of Alaska?

The Interview
 


Big, bold and impossibly beautiful, Alaska stretches beyond the imagination, particularly in her southeastern seas where many ships sail. Ancient glaciers glint majestically, as snow-mantled mountains soar into the cerulean sky. The deep harbors and frontier towns welcome visitors with open arms, eager to reveal their riches. The possibilities are endless, inviting excursions of untold discovery and delight.

"Up north there's a land without fences. Animals outnumber people, sunlight shines at midnight and nature reigns. Life is different. This northern frontier still boasts pristine landscapes, majestic wildlife and a coastline that is one of the most enthralling waterways in the world"

INTERVIEW

Holland America vs. Princess in Alaska

Which cruise line is the best choice for your Alaska cruise or land and sea vacation? Cruise Traveler Magazine compared the real difference between Holland America vs. Princess Alaska Cruises.  Learn about the onboard experience,  itineraries, ports-of-call. Compare cruises, or land and sea vacation [ cruisetours ] prices, current promotional offers, bonus extra's and wilderness lodges and rail adventures.

" What's the real difference between a Holland America and a Princess Cruise or Cruisetour of Alaska? "

Q. "My husband and I are considering taking an 11 or 12 day 'Denali National Park' cruise tour with either Holland America or Princess Cruises. Both cruise lines itinerary are very similar - 7 night cruise including visiting Glacier Bay, a Tundra Wilderness tour of Denali National Park, a night in Fairbanks, and 2 nights in Denali. However the cruise lines brand their rail travel, expressing that they are "exclusive", the McKinley Explorer, for Holland and the Denali Express for Princess. Is there an advantage to doing the rail by Princess over Holland America? We also noticed that, for what looks like a similar cruise vacation, prices vary between Holland America and Princess. My husband wants to get a balcony, but isn't sure which is the better deal. 
What do we need to know before we choose which cruise line to see Alaska? Could you explain why there is such a difference between Princess Cruises and Holland America, not only on price but amenities as well?"

A. OK, here's what you need to know before you go....

 


Story

 


Background

Holland America Line began sailing Alaska in 1967. Princess Cruises in 1969. Both cruise lines added land-and-sea vacations a few years later. So, both companies have years of hands on experience to rely on.

Both Holland America Line and Princess Cruises are the market leaders in Alaska. Both have their own motorcoach and rail services. Princess owns their own Wilderness Lodge accommodations in Denali, Fairbanks, Kenai and Cooper River. Combined they have the most ships of any of the name brand cruise lines sailing Alaskan waters.

Cruising in Alaska is a summertime adventure with an ocean-inspired cruise and an exhilarating land tour of Alaska. Alaska...where summertime memories last forever. Alaska offers a range of enriching options to see the Great Land's glaciers, frontier towns, native culture, wildlife and national parks from the perspective of spectacular ships, exclusive rail service and wilderness lodges.

Both Holland America and Princess' onboard enrichment programs introduce Alaska for a personalized perspective of America's last frontier. On Holland America and Princess cruises, ships feature a naturalist with informative lectures, and a national park ranger during Glacier Bay sailings.

Princess, however, offers their exclusive "North to Alaska" program.  Onboard are Alaska Iditarod winner and renowned dog musher Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the grueling 1,100-mile Iditarod sled dog race. She comes aboard in Juneau to share tales of her historic triumph, answer questions and even sign autographs. You won't want to miss this special Princess exclusive. Plus, on some sailings meet people from Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" TV show. In partnership with the Discovery Networks, Alaska cruises feature content from the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet on the wildlife, terrain, history, and adventures from Alaska. Discovery Networks shows such as "Gold Rush!" and "Panning for Gold", along with episodes of "The Deadliest Catch" and "The Klondike" mini-series are featured.

 


 

In Skagway, Alaskan storyteller and musician Steve Hites comes on board to perform his "North to Alaska" show. This tribute to the Klondike days brings the region's folklore, history and poetry of the era to life with plenty of rollicking humor. 

Then there is The Klondike Festival and Midnight Sun Party. Princess guests experience the thrill and excitement of a real Klondike Festival, hearkening back to the good ol', bad ol' days of gold rush fever with authentic Alaska entertainment. Fun for the whole family, the festival includes performances depicting the heyday of the gold rush, Alaska icon & sled racing presentations, penny whistle classes, Tlingit art projects and more.

Princess is providing a variety of authentic Alaska cuisine options onboard including King Crab, King Salmon and fresh Halibut.  There is a dedicated Alaska cuisine themed night in the main dining rooms, and a special Alaska Cuisine menu in the Crown Grill and Bayou Cafe on select evenings.

For kids and teens, they can explore their adventurous side with activities such as our Jr. Ranger Program, Panning for Gold, the Deadliest Catch Crab Sorting Game, and amazing "What would Survivor man do?"

 

 

The Cruise Ships That Sail Alaska

Each cruise line's ships that sail Alaska have a "personality" of their own and you should review the amenities, onboard programs, entertainment and dining options to decide which cruise ship best fits your lifestyle. Holland America tends to attract a more "senior" traveler, while Princess tends to attract travelers of all ages, especially middle age couples and families. 
When it comes to choosing a cruise ship to sail Alaska, the difference between seeing Alaska and understanding Alaska is what the cruise line brings to life, while onboard. 
 As an example, Princess cruises brings aboard speakers to share their Alaska adventures, such as the grueling 1,100-mile Iditarod sled dog race. In Skagway, you'll enjoy the entertainment of an Alaskan storyteller. And in Ketchikan, a U.S. Forest Service naturalist will present a program about the largest forest in the country, Tongass National Forest. Alaska's intriguing flora, fauna and geology come to life by the full-time onboard naturalists who sails with you the entire length of the cruise. 
While in Glacier Bay National Park, rangers from the National Park Service will board the cruise ship to serve as tour guides and answer questions about this national treasure. Rangers also lead our Junior Ranger and Teen Explorer programs in Glacier Bay, which teach kids about the wildlife and scenery in a fun and entertaining way.

 


 

Dining onboard spotlights local specialties like fresh Alaskan Seafood. You will also like the Taste of Alaska Buffet, a festive on-deck Fish Barbeque and a Reindeer Chili and Rockfish Chowder Cook-Off. The Chef's Alaskan Dinner and Glacier Bay Gala Buffet are highlights of your Alaska cruise. Or indulge in a romantic Glacier Bay Champagne Breakfast served on your own balcony onboard Princess Cruises. Both Holland America and Princess' Alaska cruises, offer a number of round-trip seven-night itineraries, that feature the most popular ports of call : Both cruise lines call on Juneau and Ketchikan.  Itineraries sail through Glacier Bay, or Tracy Arm.  Most sailings visit Skagway. Holland America's Seattle cruises go to Sitka. Some Seattle sailings call on Victoria, BC Canada. Princess Cruises offer sailings from San Francisco on 10-night cruises, and  from Los Angeles for 12 nights that travel the Inside Passage with port calls in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria.

 

Alaska Cruise Prices

You will find in general, pricing for round-trip seven-night cruises competitive between Holland America and Princess for inside, ocean view and balcony cabins. Inside cabins for sailings during the early part of May or beginning of September start for less than $800.00 per person,  Balcony cabins (known as Verandahs on Holland America) will cost you considerably more.

For north or southbound sailings, we found inside and ocean view cabins less expensive with Princess, at the start ( early May ) and end ( early September ) of the Alaska cruise season.

 

 

 
Alaska Land and Sea Vacations [ Cruisetours ]

Holland America's land and sea vacations include stops in Canada. Visiting Dawson City and Whitehorse, the Yukon.  Both cruise line land tours visit Denali National Park. In addition to Denali, Princess can take you to the Kenai Wilderness Lodge, in the Kenai Peninsula and/or the Copper River Wilderness Lodge, to visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Princess' northbound or southbound sailings from Vancouver, begin or end in Whittier, Alaska which is closer to Anchorage then Seward, where Holland America's cruises begin or end. Princess gets the upper hand here, as it has "Direct to the Wilderness" rail service for guests by going straight up north to Denali (or vice versa, going directly from Denali to their cruise ship).  Hours of transportation by train or motorcoach are saved by this service.

 

 

Holland America accommodations are in Westmark-branded hotels. in Alaska and Canada's cities and towns. For visits to Denali National Park, Holland America guests stay at the McKinley Chalet Resort, which is less than three miles from the entrance to the park.

 

 

Princess' accommodations (except in Anchorage, where they use the Captain Cook hotel and others )  are in " Wilderness " lodges. Guest can stay at the Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge in Trapper Creek, near Talkeetna, the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, or the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge, and the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge ( less than a mile from the entrance to Denali National Park). Which accommodation(s) you stay at depends upon your itinerary.

 

The Rail Services
Now when you disembark the ship, the difference between Princess and Holland America become more clear.


 

First, Princess Cruises docks in Whittier, Holland America in Seward. Whittier is much closer to Anchorage, when most northbound cruise tours begin. So, travel time is significantly reduced. If you are headed direct to Denali and will not be visiting Anchorage, Princess offers a real exclusive: "Direct-to-the-Wilderness Alaska Rail Service".
Princess Cruises exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness service allows you to step off your cruise ship in Whittier onto the Princess rail service cars and arrive at their Princess Wilderness Lodge that same afternoon. Or, on southbound itineraries, guests leave the Denali area and board the train for a direct link to your awaiting cruise ship in Whittier. Because fewer transfers and less time waiting makes for a more relaxing and hassle-free trip, Princess exclusive cruise ship-rail-lodge connection takes you straight to Denali National Park. 
While others like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Holland America are still in transit, you'll be enjoying more time at one of Princess' two Denali area lodges. The connection is seamless. You step directly from your ship onto your waiting railcar. Sit back, read, chat, dine and marvel at the panoramic vistas from their domed observation lounge. You arrive at Denali that same day ready to experience the wonders you've traveled so far to see. 
If reaching your destination nearly a full day earlier than with any other cruise tour company is important to you. Then consider Princess Cruises. It could mean more time to sit by the fire, linger over grilled salmon and soak up the comfort and luxury of Princess Cruises, Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.
A word about the train. If the rail portion of your cruise tour departs from Anchorage, you will notice that Holland America's rail cars, marketed as the "McKinley Explorer" and Princess Cruises railcars marketed as "McKinley Express" actually travel together on the same train.
The train's engine is operated by the Alaska Railroad, which "pulls" the private rail cars of Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. So, for everyone the view out the window or on the observation decks is the same. There are some differences on the rail cars themselves, but each cruise line offers glass dome views, onboard dining options, expert guide service and commentary along the way.

Denali National Park

Sightseeing inside Denali National Park is operated by the National Park Service, so the tours in the park are identical no matter what cruise line you travel with.
With Princess, you can choose your own park tour! Most Princess Alaska land and sea vacations include a tour through the park, plus Princess offers the flexibility to choose your preferred experience from three unique tour options. Park tour options include: Denali Natural History Tour, Tundra Wilderness Tour and Kantishna Experience. Your itinerary and time constraints may limit your options.

 



 

Denali Natural History Tour
Duration: Approximately 6 1/2 hours 
Tour Highlights:
Fully narrated tour that focuses on the rich history of Denali National Park
Travels to Primrose Ridge (Mile 17) for scenic and wildlife viewing opportunities
Includes a screening of "Across Time and Tundra", a film that depicts development of the park road and early visitor experiences
Stop at Savage Cabin to visit a rustic, back-country shelter used by rangers for decades
Alaskan Native Presentation
Possible opportunity to see Mt. Mckinley (weather permitting)
Recommended for:
Passengers who are interested in Denali's history, culture and nature
Passengers who have limited time in Denali and want to more thoroughly experience their lodge and/or land excursions
Passengers who prefer to have more free time in Denali

Tundra Wilderness Tour
Duration: Approximately 9 hours 
Tour Highlights:
Comprehensive, fully narrated tour that travels deep into Denali National Park (Mile 53)
In-depth information about the history of the park with plentiful wildlife and photography opportunities
Travels over Sable Pass to scenic Polychrome Overlook
Stony Hill Overlook provides opportunities to see Mt. McKinley (weather permitting)
Note: The Teklanika Tundra Wilderness Tour is seasonally offered in place of the Tundra Wilderness Tour when the park road is not fully accessible due to weather.
Recommended for:
Passengers with 2-night stays at Denali
Passengers who want a deep Denali Park experience
Passengers who enjoy motorcoach travel

Kantishna Experience
Duration: Approximately 14 hours
Tour Highlights:
All day tour that travels to the end of the park road (Mile 91)
This tour is guided by a National Park Service Interpretive Ranger
Explore the old gold mining town of Kantishna and learn about its history
Stop at the restored home of Fannie Quigley and learn about the early settlers
Visit the Eielson Visitor Center and Wonder Lake
Abundant opportunities for wildlife viewing
Possible opportunities to see Mt. Mckinley (weather permitting)
Limited space availability
Note: This tour does not operate when the park road is not fully accessible due to weather.
Recommended for:
Passengers with 2-night stays at Denali
Passengers who want to travel to the end of the park road
Passengers who enjoy motorcoach travel
Other Helpful Information
Don't wait; availability is limited. Space is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Not all requests can be accommodated.
A snack and hot beverage is provided on the Natural History Tour.
Box lunches and beverages are provided on the Tundra Wilderness Tour and the Kantishna Experience.
Wheelchair accessible buses are available, and all stops are wheelchair accessible.
Children under 4 years and/or 40 pounds are required to be in a child safety device (car seat) to ride on buses. Passengers must bring their own child safety device.
Tour buses are school buses and are not equipped with restrooms. Buses will stop approximately every 90 minutes for restroom breaks.
Park road is not paved and travels through beautiful Alaskan wilderness - wildlife is not guaranteed.
Privately owned vehicles are not permitted into the National Park.
Suggested items to bring include warm clothes, rainwear, insect repellant, camera, binoculars, and personal medications as necessary 
 

Hotel/Lodge Accommodations
Where you stay in Alaska may matter to you. Both Holland America and Princess offer lodges and hotels in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Denali. Princess also offers accommodations at Cooper River and Kenai. There are differences between the two cruise lines. First, Princess owns their own lodges. ( visit www.princesslodges.com ) So, the hotel/lodge staff are employees of Princess. This is important, for seamless continuity of service. Holland America and the other cruise lines, contract out hotel space for their guests. 

Getting around Alaska, with the exception of the rail services provided, is by motorcoach. Grayline of Alaska provides the bus transportation for Holland America. Princess provides its own transportation. Both offer driver/guide commentary along the way.
For more information and to compare Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean or Celebrity cruise tours of Alaska, visit Alaska Cruises Direct. 

Sightseeing from the trainLuxury dining on the trainNature Hikes & Scenic ToursHelicopter TourAlaskan Culture & HeritageLodge hot tubWhitewater rafting
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Who won?

Holland America vs. Princess in Alaska

Historically,  Holland America appeals to an older demographic, with onboard activity and entertainment appealing to these travelers. The line is best suited for 55+ and seniors traveling with or without a group of friends. Princess Cruises is better suited for active couples from 35 -50. Best for those looking for land and sea vacations [ cruisetours] and families with young children. Guests should find the onboard experience with Princess Cruises "North to Alaska" appealing.

Q & A

 

Q. Holland America and Princess. Different or more of the same?

Both Holland America and Princess offer:
:: roundtrip cruises from Seattle and Vancouver. Princess also offers San Francisco and Los Angeles departures.
:: Inside Passage & Voyage of the Glaciers cruises
:: Visits to Glacier Bay National Park
:: Northbound or southbound cruises that start and end  in Vancouver or Anchorage [ Whittier or Seward ship ports ]
:: Cruisetours (a land + sea combination tour before or after the cruise, touring the interior of Alaska)
:: Private glass - domed railcars with dining and narrated commentary along the way (Alaska Railroad engine pulls both Princess and Holland America, and Royal Caribbean/Celebrity railcars, so the view is the same no matter what cruise line you travel with )
:: Princess own their lodges in Denali, Fairbanks, Copper River and Kenai ( consistent service standards )

:: Princess'' "North To Alaska"  Enrichment program includes many cultural, entertainment and dining events not featured on Holland America

 

Q. At a minimum, how many travel days should I plan in Alaska?

7 Day Cruise Only

Plan on at least 8 days for an Alaskan cruise. Just about everyone who travels to Alaska, arrives and departs by air. Take our advice, arrive the day before the cruise departs. Weather delays, mechanical problems and airline flight cancellations are common these days. Alleviate the possibility of not arriving on time and standing alone on the dock as your ship has set sail!

 

10 - 17 day Alaska Cruisetour [ land + sea combination ]

A typical cruisetour should be a minimum of 12 days. There are some shorter tours of 10 days, but you'll miss out on some of the best opportunities of experiencing the whales, wonders and wildlife of Alaska. Choose a cruisetour that includes at least 2 days in and around Denali National Park, a must-see and one of the most popular sites. If your going on a cruisetour, you'll travel to and from you home to Anchorage  [ Whittier or Seward Ship Ports ] or Fairbanks.

Q. What's the best month to cruise to Alaska?
The Alaska cruise seasons runs May - September (Early May and the first 2 weeks of September are the least expensive times to travel ). June, July, and August are more expensive and may be crowded, with  as many as 3 or more ships in port at the same time.

Q. Should I be concerned about the weather?
In Alaska, the weather can chance often during your 7 day cruise or extended land tour. In early May, there is snow on the ground deep in Denali National Park. However, you could also find 90 degree temperatures at Juneau. So you need to pack clothes that you can layer, to be ready for any temperatures changes. You'll find our Alaska packing list and advice here.

Q.  Where do I go to research and explore my Alaska travel options?
First, decide what cruise line (s) you want to explore. Start by looking at Holland America and Princess. They are the industry leaders with 50 + years experience operating in Alaska. Compare cruise itineraries and the places your land tour visits. Explore what these two cruise lines offer here. Also browse their official websites. Order an Alaska destination brochure or download the brochure ( PDF) from their website.

In addition to the most popular ports-of-call and visits to Denali National Park and Glacier Bay, Holland America also visits the Canada's Yukon Territory, while princess has options to Copper River and Kenai.  Both Holland America and Princess, offer special offers, promotions and cruise deals at hundreds off brochure prices. Look for a promotional time- limited booking window. You'll get your best deal, and that way, you'll have extra money to spend on shore excursions, or shopping.

The best time to book is at least a year out, but no later than the fall prior to your summer cruise. Booking a last minute cruise ( 30 -60 days prior to sailing ) gets you a good deal. However, your choice of accommodations will be limited, sometimes inside cabins, or cabins near a disco, stairs, elevators etc. Cruise lines participate in "wave season" ,  offering savings, bonus extras and special amenities if you book between January and March. Southbound is a popular cruisetour direction, and costs more than a Northbound direction. Choose the Northbound route. You'll save hundreds per person and stop at the same ports-of-call and land tour stops. To choose the itinerary that is the best fit for you, begin by deciding how many days you can travel, which month you want to go, which land tour stops like Denali National Park and your cruise visits Glacier Bay National Park. 

Q. Should my trip Include Glacier Bay National Park ?
Yes, absolutely. Check out the National Park Service overview of Glacier Bay National Park : https://www.nps.gov/glba/planyourvisit/cruise.htm

 

Q. Should I fly-in to Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage or Fairbanks?
If your time is limited and you've chosen an Alaska cruise only, fly to and from Seattle. The airfare will be lower than the other arrival airports in Canada or Alaska. If you have chosen a cruisetour you have options. Northbound cruisetours begin with a cruise that starts in Vancouver and the land-based tour ends in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Most Southbound cruisetours with the land tour starting in Fairbanks, and your cruise leaving from Anchorage. 


End of Article


Did You Know: Grizzly bears have been a threatened species since 1975 in the Lower 48 states? Alaska however has over 32,000 grizzlies. Considering Alaska's population is only 670,000, that's 1 bear for every 21 people. Alaska is home to magnificent glaciers, giant halibut, hardy outdoorsmen.... and lots of moose. Alaska has 39 mountain ranges. Did you know? The larger ranges include: Alaska Range, which includes 20,320 foot Mt. McKinley, the continent's tallest peak , Aleutian Range, a volcano-ridden range on the Alaska Peninsula, Brooks Range, which is above the Arctic Circle; the Continental Divide runs through it and Boundary Ranges, along the Canadian border of the Inside Passage.

 

PLANNING  A CRUISE TOGETHER 
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Find the best Alaska cruise deals, Alaska cruise discounts and discount Alaska cruise vacation deals.

 >> This week's best cruise travel bargains for Alaska by land & sea.


About Us

Say Alaska and a variety of images and impressions come to mind: towering mountains, watchable wildlife, icy blue glaciers, endless wilderness, vibrant Native culture, leaping salmon, hardy outdoors; " America's last frontier. Often, visiting Alaska has as much to do with what people may feel as with what they will see. There is a mystique that surrounds Alaska. To some it represents a dream, a trip of a life time, a life altering event, a chance to reach out and touch something inside themselves that is wild and beautiful like they imagine Alaska to be. Our job is to put that dream - or as much as possible of it - within reach of you.

 

Alaskan cruising is affordable, only the memories are priceless! When it comes to planning your trip, Alaskan Cruises & Land and Sea Vacations are more economical than you might think. With a wide range of options and choices, there's a cruise or cruise tour to suit most any budget."

 

Have Questions? Need Help? Want More Information?. Call 800.365.1445 Speak to a Certified Alaska Cruise Expert. Ask all your questions, take all the time you need. If you do decide to travel with us, that's great. But, if not, it's still ok. We enjoy sharing our life's travel experiences with you and like-minded travelers, none the less .There is such a variety of cruise ships, itineraries and theme cruises available there is a cruise to fit both your interests and your budget!. So, get together with people you know who would love to cruise, give us a call and we'll take care of the rest. Your group will have a great cruise at great prices plus, added amenities will that make your cruise even more special.

 

 No One Knows Alaska Like We Do. At Alaska Cruises Direct we not only have the largest selection of Alaska Cruises, Land & Sea Vacations and Cruise tours available, we've been there. We know how to show you the great wonders of this land. Our staff is ready to share their expertise with you. You can shop online and compare itineraries, ships and sailing dates from four major-brand cruise lines that have 96% of all Alaska Cruise and Tours. So, if you want to see more, learn more and experience a more memorable side of Alaska, call us, speak to a knowledgeable Certified Alaska Cruise Expert and ask all the questions, find out all the details. Call us at 800.365.1445. The call is free, as so is the advice.
 

 

DISCOVER MORE...Compare all the itineraries, sailing dates, rates, accommodations, excursions, bonus extras, discounts and more..

>>  ALASKA CRUISES  7 Day Voyage of the Glaciers or Inside Passage Cruises - Sailing from Seattle, Vancouver, 10 & 12 Day Alaska Cruises from San Francisco or Los Angeles

>>  DENALI EXPLORER TOURS  7 Day Voyage of the Glaciers Cruise - Rail & Motorcoach Travel - Denali National Park & More

>>  DELUXE ESCORTED LAND & SEA VACATIONS Hosted by a tour director with most meals on land included and enhanced sightseeing

>>  OFF THE BEATEN PATH ADVENTURES Experience the best of Denali Explorer vacations plus time on the Kenai Peninsula near dazzling Kenai Fjords National Park or Copper River just outside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

Have Questions? Need Help? Want More Information?Call 800.365.1445 Speak to a Certified Alaska Cruise Expert. Ask all your questions, take all the time you need. If you do decide to travel with us, that's great. But, if not, it's still ok. We enjoy sharing our life's travel experiences with you and like-minded travelers, none the less.


 

 

 

Surprisingly Popular Destination: Alaska in 2020


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If you've been itching to enter the world of adventure, then Alaska is your gateway, and the path to adventure begins

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What's To See & Do In Alaska?

For something a little more adventurous than totem poles and eagles, combine a heart-pumping raft trip through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Haines, Alaska. While bald eagles might steal the show, there's still a plethora of other sights to soak up including mountainside glaciers, moose, bear, and trumpeter swans.

Go Whale Watching

Alaska's diverse wildlife population can perhaps best be seen from a sleek 26-foot catamaran tour with a warm and cozy cabin to experience whale watching at its best. Traveler's glide through narrow passages and bays with a chance to spot porpoises, sea otters, over 280 species of birds, and of course humpback and gray whales.

Race a Dog Sled

Alaska often ranks on travelers' bucket lists for its unique diversity and wildlife adventure. Where else can you go whale watching before taking to the skies on a helicopter, and then finally embarking on a dogsled tour than in Alaska? That's a tall order for any destination, but Alaska delivers. Get a glimpse of glacier-carved mountains on a helicopter ride to Herbert Glacier where some 80 huskies greet guests. After some instruction and a little practice from the mushing team, travelers can mush the sleds themselves on a loop as the dogs eagerly lead the way.

There's really no need to tame your inner beast or insatiable love of travel and adventure when it comes to animal encounters. Put them all on your bucket list and enjoy checking them all off as you travel your way around the world. What animal encounter is first on your bucket list to see?

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Q. How can I view shore excursions & hot shore tour deals, specifically for my cruise?

A. Excursion finder will help you identify which ports your cruise visits and the tours available for those dates in each of the ports. You will need your cruise departure date, cruise line and ship and we will provide you with the ports and tours available in each of those ports for the days you are in port. Select your cruise line here, then click on go! Learn more at ShoreTrips.com!