What's the real difference between a Holland
a Princess Cruise or Cruise Tour of
Alaska Cruises. They're not just a vacation.
They're the time of your life!
Cruising Alaska is about more than just moments.
Cruising Alaska is about memories that last
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
: Holland America vs. Princess in
Let's debate which cruise line is the best
choice for your Alaska cruise or land and sea
Cruise Traveler Magazine compares 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
“ 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Rail Services
Now when you disembark the ship, the difference
between Princess and Holland America become more
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
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
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
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
Tundra Wilderness Tour
Duration: Approximately 9 hours
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
Travels over Sable Pass to scenic Polychrome
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.
Passengers with 2-night stays at Denali
Passengers who want a deep Denali Park
Passengers who enjoy motorcoach travel
Duration: Approximately 14 hours
All day tour that travels to the end of the park
road (Mile 91)
This tour is guided by a National Park Service
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
Limited space availability
Note: This tour does not operate when the park
road is not fully accessible due to weather.
Passengers with 2-night stays at Denali
Passengers who want to travel to the end of the
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
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
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
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
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
Who won the debate?
Holland America vs. Princess in
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
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
PLANNING A CRUISE TOGETHER
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you save, they save. Explore the possibilities
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This week's best cruise travel bargains for
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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
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a life time, a life altering event, a chance to
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Alaskan cruising is affordable, only the
memories are priceless! When it comes to
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there's a cruise or cruise tour to suit most any
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
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.
Compare all the itineraries, sailing dates,
rates, accommodations, excursions, bonus extras,
discounts and more..
Day Voyage of the Glaciers or Inside Passage Cruises, Sailing from
Seattle, Vancouver, 10 -12 Day Alaska Cruises from San Francisco or
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
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.
Everything you need to know before you go
and then some!
Raye & Marty Trencher
Certified Alaska Travel Experts
Call us at 800.365.1445
Give Raye & Marty a call. They're looking
forward to sharing their passion and love for
the region. They're ready to impart their
in-depth knowledge of Alaska’s diverse culture,
wildlife, majestic glaciers and mountain scenery
to guests at every awe-inspiring opportunity.