by Dayna Engberg

A Peek Inside an 18-day Alaskan Cruisetour

If you’re wanting to visit the Great Land this summer, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a journey more extensive than the 18-day Yukon + Triple Denali cruisetour with Holland America Line. Scenic cruising through three of Alaska’s most stunning glacial areas. Nine unique destinations across the state. Three full days in Denali National Park. But wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. What exactly is a cruisetour, anyway?

A traditional Alaskan cruise tends to visit some of the popular southeastern ports — such as Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway — but misses out on the magic that happens in Alaska’s expansive interior, from dogsledding the vast arctic tundra to hiking forests teeming with wildlife and exploring the continent’s tallest mountain peak. A cruisetour takes you beyond the port destinations of your cruise itinerary with additional land tour excursions for the ultimate Alaska experience. It’s a full-fledged expedition by cruise, air and rail. Keep reading to learn more.

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Prince William Sound

Begin your Exploration with the Cruise

The order of your cruisetour will vary based on the itinerary, but it typically either begins or ends with the 7-night cruise portion. Depart Vancouver for a full day of scenic cruising through Alaska’s famed Inside Passage, the winding network of waterways shielded from the open ocean by the rugged islands and glacier-cut fjords that are home to some of Alaska’s most iconic wildlife, like hungry humpbacks and playful orcas. Continue on to Ketchikan, the state’s “First City,” famous for the spellbinding Misty Fjords National Monument, abundant salmon fishing and rich native culture. Spend a day in Juneau, gateway to the mighty Mendenhall Glacier and explore fascinating Skagway, steeped in Klondike Gold Rush History.

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Nieuw Amsterdam in Glacier Bay

From the ever-changing biosphere of Glacier Bay to centuries-old rivers of ice plowing through the storied College Fjord and Prince William Sound, there’s a high probability you’ll experience Alaska’s premier attraction: witnessing the thunderous crash of a giant glacier calving into the sea. Between bucket-list experiences and scenic cruising, you’ll enjoy a seemingly endless array of fine dining options, onboard activities and live performances to boot.

Extend Your Exploration with the Land Tour

Disembarkation from the cruise ship marks a new chapter of adventure in your epic vacation. You’ll start with a scenic rail journey from the tiny town of Whittier along the breathtaking Turnagain Arm towards Anchorage, a must-visit destination for nature lovers. From bears lumbering through the trees to city moose roaming the streets, wildlife viewing isn’t limited to marine life like whales, puffins, otters and porpoises (although you can see those, too). And Anchorage is only the beginning.

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Glass Domed Cabins aboard the McKinley Explorer

Continue on to the crown jewel of the itinerary: legendary Denali National Park. You’ll arrive via McKinley Explorer, a luxurious domed railcar perfect for soaking up the stunning views of the surrounding landscape over full-service breakfasts like bagels with smoked Alaskan salmon or Alaskan King Crab Benedict.


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Park Ranger at Mckinley Chalet Resort

The cruisetour covers all your transfers and accommodations, including your stay at the magnificent McKinley Chalet Resort. Overlooking the Nenana River in the heart of Denali Canyon, the rustic wilderness lodge is nestled just two miles from the entrance to the park itself. 

For the next three days, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the area on your own or with optional excursions like river rafting, flightseeing adventures, glacier landings, Denali heli-hiking or meeting an Iditarod musher and his cuddly team of sled dogs. The land tour concludes with a sternwheeler riverboat excursion in Fairbanks, frontier-era history in the Yukon’s colorful Dawson City and Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon Territory.

If you’re torn between the benefits of an Alaskan cruise, but also want to explore Denali National Park and the vast wilderness of Alaska’s expansive interior, this cruisetour is a great way to experience both.


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