Alaska Cruise & Train Tours
See the Canadian Rockies by rail, then cruise in luxury
It's the perfect combination. By pairing an Alaska cruise with a Canadian train tour, you get a unique perspective on what makes the North so beautiful.
Marvel at sky-piercing peaks as you glide through the Rockies on a sightseeing train. Explore charming mountain towns, unwind in a luxury lodge and tour famous waterfalls or glaciers.
Then embark on an Alaska Inside Passage cruise. Sail past shimmering blue icebergs, watch whales in the distance and discover quaint seaside communities. Navigate small inlets and coves on a smaller expedition-style ship or indulge yourself on a larger luxury vessel.
Coordinating an Alaska cruise and train vacation 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.
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.
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 its advantages and it depends on your style of travel and what you want to get out of your Alaska cruise adventure.
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.
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.
Onboard 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.
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
Vancouver → Kamloops → Lake Louise or Banff
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.
Journey through the Clouds
Vancouver → Kamloops → Jasper
This route traverses the later of the two main Canadian trans-continental railways: The Canadian Northern 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.
Rainforest to Gold Rush
Vancouver → Whistler → Quesnel → Jasper
This route connects North Vancouver and Jasper, with stops in Whistler and Quesnel. It was previously known as the "Fraser 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.
Cruising through the Inside Passage
Vancouver → Alaska
Cruise along the coast 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.
Onboard 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.
At the end of the day, gather in the dining room and linger over fresh, tasty cuisine while sharing stories of your adventures.
Typical Services on Small Expedition Ships:
- Hot tubs, sauna, fitness equipment, yoga classes and a massage suite
- Flat screen TV, DVD player and iPod docking station in your cabin.
- An intimate wine bar with plenty of views to enjoy while you sip.
- A luxurious white-tablecloth dining room where gourmet meals are served with cheerful table service (no buffets).
Inside the Rocky Mountaineer
Service Level Comparison
|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 throught the journey||Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary throught the journey|
|Luggage Service||Luggage delivered to hotel in Kamloops/Quesnel||Luggage delivered to hotel in Kamloops/Quesnel|
WHY BOOK A LARGE LUXURY OR SMALL EXPEDITION CRUISE
Larger ships have more amenities on board, including swimming pools, childcare, entertainment and more.
Large ships have more varied activities onboard - it's impossible to be bored when there are cooking classes, concerts and other events happening every day.
Large luxury ships have more choices when it comes to dining and shopping.
On a small expedition vessel your boat will have more maneuverability and will be able to visit smaller coves and inlets that could not accommodate a larger ship. (and you may have a better chance of spotting whales and other wildlife!)
A small ship, like the Safari Endeavor, has a kayak launching pad right on the back of the boat, perfect for setting off an on adventure.
A small ship has a more intimate environment, which means that you'll get to know your sailing companions better and make new friends.
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.
Biking the Vancouver Seawall
Vancouver is a delightfully liveable city throughout the year, but it really shines in the summertime. You'll have the best of both worlds - the culture, dining and shopping of a world class metropolis and mountains and hiking trails right on the doorstep. The climate of Vancouver is also ideal in the summer — not too cold, but also not scorching hot. It's just the right temperature to treat yourself to some ice cream as you wander around the city.
Jasper is the gentle giant of the Rockies and this small mountain town offers visitors a more laid-back mountain experience – with equal options for adventure, discovery and relaxation.
Banff National Park
The townsite of Banff, established in 1885, is the hub of Banff National Park. A lively mountain town with great restaurants, Banff is a welcome change of pace. Enjoy strolling Banff Avenue or try one of the numerous outdoor adventures offered in this outdoor playground. Banff was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for the mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, and waterfalls.
Celebrated for its incredible skiing, this bustling resort town has plenty to see and do all year round. Take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola high up into the mountains, spend the day at the spa or on the golf course, and in the evening enjoy fine food and wines at one of the many world class restaurants. Whistler has something for everyone.
The Shuswap First Nation set up camp here many centuries ago, as the many rivers and lakes were abundant with salmon. These days, this pleasant town is a lively place to stop on the way during your Rocky Mountaineer (depending on which route you take).
Rocky Mountaineer traveling along Seton Lake
The other option for where to spend the night while on the Rocky Mountaineer. Located directly between Williams Lake and Prince George, it is one of the main stopping off points on the route through British Columbia to the Yukon. Quesnel is a popular destination for nature lovers, as it provides access to some truly legendary canoeing, hiking and fishing.
QUESTIONS ABOUT ALASKA CRUISE AND TRAIN VACATIONS
Frequently asked questions
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