Best Alaska Cruise & Train Tours

Glide through the Rockies on a sightseeing train with panoramic views. Explore charming mountain towns, unwind in a luxury lodge and tour famous waterfalls or glaciers. Discover Canada's pristine wilderness before embarking on a cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage.

Holland America Cruse lines ms Westerdam in Glacier Bay Alaska

Alaska cruise and train tours allow you to combine high-end rail travel with whale watching and seaside excursions, creating a unique perspective on what makes the North so beautiful. Indulge yourself on a large luxury vessel or board a smaller expedition-style ship to explore Alaska's coves and inlets. 

At Canadian Train Vacations, our agents are travel experts who know all the ins and outs of planning an Alaska cruise with train excursion. Coordinating an Alaska cruise and train ride does require careful planning. Look through the sample trips below for inspiration and then contact us if you need help putting everything together.

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Quick Facts About Alaska Cruise and Train Tours 

  • The rail portion of your trip can come before or after your Alaska cruise. 
  • There are two types of cruise ships to choose from: a larger, more luxurious vessel or a smaller ship that allows you to visit more coves and inlets. 
  • Depending on the route you select, the Rocky Mountaineer stops for the night in either Kamloops, Quesnel or Whistler. 
  • There are two levels of service onboard the Rocky Mountaineer: Goldleaf and Silverleaf. 
  • You have a good chance of spotting wildlife as the Rocky Mountaineer winds through the Rockies. There are 53 different species of mammals here, including wolves, bighorn sheep, black bears, elk and mountain goats. 

Train and Cruise Experiences 

Blend two unique experiences into one seamless trip. Dense forests, sky-piercing mountain peaks, icebergs floating in the Inside Passage. Combine an Alaska cruise with a train ride to get the best of both worlds. 

Alaska Cruise 

The rail portion of your trip can come before or after your Alaska cruise. There are two types of cruise ships to choose from: a larger, more luxurious vessel, or a smaller ship that allows you to visit more coves and inlets. Each type of ship has advantages, and it depends on your style of travel and what you want to get out of your Alaska cruise adventure. 

A Holland America cruise ship sailing through Glacier Bay in Alaska

VIA Rail Train 

The VIA Rail trains connect Canada from Vancouver to Halifax, with four different train routes. Major city stops include Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Jasper, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec and Halifax. The trains run year-round. Depending on the route, they offer daylight or overnight sleeper train experiences. 

A VIA Rail train travels through the Canadian Rockies in the summer

Rocky Mountaineer 

The Rocky Mountaineer connects British Columbia and Alberta, with stops in Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Vancouver, Whistler, Quesnel and Kamloops. The train runs from mid-April until mid-October. The Rocky Mountaineer is a daylight-only train designed so that passengers can experience the most spectacular views and optimal photo opportunities. 

A Rocky Mountaineer train travels past a river and mountains in Banff National Park

Service Levels Inside the Rocky Mountaineer

 

SilverLeaf 

GoldLeaf 

Coach Style 

Single-Level Dome 

Bi-Level Dome 

Window Style 

Oversized dome windows, allowing for excellent viewing of wildlife and other Rocky Mountain scenery throughout your journey 

Fully domed windows with panoramic views upstairs. Private dining room on the lower level with large picture windows for the ultimate in comfort and scenery 

Onboard Meal Service 

Delicious hot entrée meals included, served at your seat 

Gourmet a la carte meals included, served in private GoldLeaf dining room 

Onboard Host 

2 hosts plus 1 culinary team 

3 to 4 hosts, plus a full culinary team 

Scenic Viewing Area 

Outdoor viewing between coaches 

Large open-air vestibule 

Beverages 

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary through the journey 

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary through the journey 

Luggage Service 

Luggage delivered to hotel in Kamloops/Quesnel 

Luggage delivered to hotel in Kamloops/Quesnel 

On Board the Holland America 

 Step onto one of Holland America's modern, comfortable vessels and begin your voyage at sea. Cruise along the Inside Passage, a legendary scenic corridor teeming with wildlife and sparkling with icebergs. 

You'll see small fishing villages, hills covered in a dense blanket of pines and whales breaking the surface of the cold, clean waters. Make your way to historic ports of call such as Skagway (outpost of the Gold Rush), Sitka and Ketchikan. 

Services on Holland America: 

  • Gourmet dining options on board, featuring steak and fresh seafood. 
  • World-class entertainment and enriching on-board activities, including cooking workshops, blues concerts and more. 
  • Complimentary 24-hour in-room dining, right in your stateroom. 
  • Nightly turndown service. 
  • Daily housekeeping, fresh fruit and ice service. 
A couple stand on the deck of a Holland America cruise ship in Alaska and look at an iceberg

Alaska Cruise and Train Routes 

Depending on your schedule, you can enjoy the cruise portion of your trip first or start with a rail journey through the mountains. The Rocky Mountaineer offers three main routes, which can all be paired with an Alaska cruise:  

First Passage to the West 

This route connects Vancouver and Banff and is the line the company first established when it was founded in 1990. The Rocky Mountaineer is the only passenger train to travel along this famous, historic section of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Memorable spots along the way include the charming train station at Lake Louise, the Stoney Creek Bridge, the dramatic Fraser & Thompson River canyons and the location where the Last Spike was added to the railway in 1885. 

Map of First Passage to the West Rocky Mountaineer route

Route Map: First Passage to the West

Journey Through the Clouds 

This route traverses the later of the two main Canadian trans-continental railways: The Canadian Northen Line, which dates back to 1917. It travels between Jasper and Vancouver, taking the breathtaking Yellowhead pass through the mountains. The highlight of the trip is the view of snow-covered Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies.

Map of Journey through the Clouds Rocky Mountaineer route

Route Map: Journey Through the Clouds

Rainforest to Gold Rush 

This route connects North Vancouver and Jasper, with stops in Whistler and Quesnel. It was previously known as the "Frasier Discovery Route," and the focus is on discovering British Columbia's wild timber country and Gold Rush history. The train passes through the Fraser River Canyon, and it's not uncommon to spot black bears, bald eagles, ospreys and even grizzly bears.

Map of Rainforest to Gold Rush Rocky Mountaineer route

Route Map: Rain Forest to Gold Rush

Cruising Through the Inside Passage 

Cruise along the cost of Northern BC all the way up to Alaska. This route is sheltered from the Pacific Ocean winds and waves by large islands, such as Pitt Island and Princess Royal Island. 

You'll pass remote communities, such as Telegraph Cove, Skagway and Ketchikan, and sail through Glacier Bay National Park—where enormous chunks of ice make a thunderous roar as they crack, split and crash into the sea.

Route map of an Inside Passage Cruise from Vancouver to Alaska

Route Map: Inside Passage Cruise from Vancouver to Alaska

On Board the Expedition Ships 

Expedition Ships are smaller and more agile vessels, with reduced passenger capacity to allow for larger cabins and a less crowded ship. 

The small size also allows these vessels to travel to tiny inlets and fjords along the Alaskan coastline that cannot be reached by larger ships. These waters are rich with marine life, including sea lions, orcas and humpback whales — so keep your camera at the ready. 

These small ships are always ready for adventure. For example, your vessel may be equipped with a high-tech kayak dock added to the back of the ship, complete with a launching pad that makes it easy for passengers to set off kayaking or stand up paddleboarding in the pristine waters off the Alaskan coast. 

Small expedition ship cruises through Southeast Alaska at dusk with snowy mountains behind

Places to Visit 

Canada was built along the historic Canadian Rail system, so it makes sense that many major Canadian cities are easily accessible by train. With train stations often centrally located within these cosmopolitan cities or remote towns, it is easy to explore the best of Canada by train. 

Vancouver 

Many Alaska cruise and train packages begin in Vancouver, a vibrant city with high-end restaurants, museums and cultural attractions. Vancouver combines world-class city amenities with hiking trails and other outdoor adventures, making it one of the best places to begin an Alaska cruise and train trip. If you visit during the summer, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the mild climate. 

Aerial view of Vancouver false creek area in the summer

Jasper 

Enhance your Alaska train/cruise combo with a stop in Jasper, one of Alberta's most beautiful destinations. Jasper is known for its mountain peaks, turquoise waters and hiking trails. The mountain town is also ideal for travellers who want to relax before embarking on an Alaskan cruise. 

Couple stands on a dock looking out at Maligne Lake’s turquoise waters and surrounding mountains

Banff 

Banff is a lively town filled with restaurants and activities for travellers of all ages. It's also the hub of Banff National Park, which is known for its waterfalls, glaciers, lakes and mountain peaks. Banff is a great stop for any Rockies train and Alaska cruise vacation. 

Two people with bikes cross the road in Banff with mountains in the background

Whistler 

Some Canadian Rockies train and Alaska cruise vacations include stops in Whistler, a resort town located in British Columbia. Whistler comes alive in the winter due to its popular ski slopes, but it also has golf courses, spas and activities suitable for laid-back travellers. After a day of sightseeing or shopping, unwind at one of Whistler's restaurants. 

Whistler village with surrounding mountains in the summer

Kamloops 

Kamloops was established by the Shuswap First Nation and served as a trading post before it was incorporated. Whether you visit before or after your Alaskan cruise, Kamloops is a great place to stop on your Canadian rail tour.

View of downtown Kamloops with river and rolling hills

Quesnel 

If your Alaska cruise and train vacation includes a ride on the Rocky Mountaineer, you'll need a place to stay overnight. Quesnel, a popular destination for nature lovers, fits the bill. It's one of the main stopping points on the route to the Yukon and offers plenty of opportunities to hike, fish and canoe. 

A woman sits in the front of a canoe and paddles across a lake near Quesnel

Why book your train journey in Canada with Canadian Train Vacations?

We take care of all the details

You want to relax and enjoy your trip, not get overwhelmed by the planning. Let us make all of the bookings for you, including rail tickets, hotels, excursions and activities, meals and transfers.

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Enjoy local expertise and guidance with a personalized itinerary. Your preferences and needs are our priority. We take care of you from the moment you land until the moment you leave.

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You’ll receive the inside scoop before you even leave home. And you can relax during your vacation because we’re only a phone call away if you have any questions while you’re in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! When we book your Rocky Mountaineer tour, it's easy to add on an Alaskan cruise as well. We make the transition from rail to sea seamless by offering special packages that combine Alaska cruises with Canadian train journeys, so you can book your entire vacation in one go.

Everything lines up perfectly and you only have to book once, ensuring your trip goes so much more smoothly.

It's up to you! You may simply want to unwind, settle in the glass-domed observation car and sip a cup of coffee while you admire the endless vistas of mountains, rivers and pine forests rolling past the windows. (You can bring a book to read, but guests often find they are too distracted by the views to get much reading done!)

Or, you can socialize and get to know your fellow passengers – curious adventurers just like you from around the world. Strike up a conversation over gourmet food and superb Okanagan wine.

The Rocky Mountaineer train begins in the unspoiled beauty of the Albertan Rockies and travels southwest through the Cariboo and Monashee Mountains. Some of Canada's most spectacular scenery will roll past your glass-domed train car, from the towering peak of Mount Robson to the crashing water of Pyramid Falls.

Stopping in Kamloops overnight, you'll continue on the next day toward the vibrant seaside city of Vancouver. The dry interior of BC gives way to rushing rivers, dense coastal rainforests and majestic mountains. Have your camera ready, it's likely you'll spot wildlife along the way.

Holland America, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are just a few of the cruise lines offering tours to Alaska from Canada. They tend to have large, luxury vessels. If you want to explore Alaska's coves and inlets, look for a cruise line with smaller ships.

For the best Alaska cruise and train package, we recommend setting aside at least 5 to 7 days for the cruise portion of your trip. This will give you enough time for whale watching, exploring Glacier Bay National Park and sightseeing along the Alaskan coast.

Alaska has many scenic destinations, including Sitka, the coastline of Chichagof Island, Glacier Bay National Park, Mendenhall Glacier and Denali National Park.

In terms of what you see on your cruise, it doesn't matter if you sail northbound or southbound. You'll see all the sights on your itinerary either way. Direction does matter if you're deciding whether to add an Alaskan cruise to the beginning or end of your Canadian train vacation. It all depends on your personal preference and the other stops planned on your trip.

It depends on where and when you travel. The best time to see the Northern Lights while cruising Alaska's waterways is September. It gets darker earlier than it does in the summertime, giving you more opportunities to see this natural phenomenon.

Alaskan cruise season typically lasts from May through September. July and August are the busiest months, so consider traveling in May or September if you want to beat the crowds. A September cruise is also ideal if you want to see the Northern Lights.

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