If adventure is calling your name, but you can’t decide between exploring by land or sea, Holland America Line has the solution. They offer a land and sea cruise in Alaska and the Yukon that provides the best of both worlds.
“As one of the very first cruise lines allowed into Alaska, there is a sense of history that comes with a Holland America Line Alaska cruise,” says Patricia Marques, Director of Sales and Travel at CAA North & Eastern Ontario. A land and sea tour allows you to see more, all while indulging in the comfort and knowledge of Holland American Line.
Northern tourism is heating up, and the Alaska Travel Industry Association reports that the occupancy on cruises sailing through Alaska was up 74 per cent in 2022. A land and sea adventure provides a unique experience, combining two incredible northern destinations, and will set your vacation apart from the rest.
You’ll want to have your camera ready as you visit the Klondike region of the Yukon, known for its rich history and prosperous mines.
Is this type of adventure right for you? Here are six reasons to cruise to Alaska and the Yukon with Holland America Line.
See more by land and sea
Imagine this: you are sailing through the calm waters of Alaska’s Inner Passage past snow-capped mountains and the icy walls of Glacier Bay. On board, you glimpse pods breaching the waters and bald eagles soaring overhead. After taking in Alaska’s coastal sights, you board a scenic train as you begin your journey to the Yukon.
Though far less travelled, the Yukon offers lush forests and rich history. When you arrive in Dawson City, Yukon, you will be greeted with frontier-era charm as you explore the historic gold rush town.
Adding the Yukon to your cruise itinerary lets you get more out of your vacation, creating an experience you will remember for a lifetime.
Experience the majestic views
Whether you are an avid photographer or are gathering images to show your family and friends, Alaska and the Yukon offer the perfect scenery for all your photos. While cruising, you will see glaciers that tower over the icy waters, rich coastal rainforests and rugged mountains that frame the coastline.
On your trip, you may be lucky to spot the Northern Lights. While the thrill of the Auroras is never guaranteed, it is a fantastic experience. For the best chance, set sail in April or September. Plus, the clear, dark skies in Dawson City, Yukon, provide the perfect backdrop for the Northern lights in the fall.
Get close to the local wildlife
Moose, wolves, and bears – oh my! Alaska and the Yukon are the perfect destinations for animal lovers. While sailing through the Inner Passage, the calm waters are the ideal opportunity to spot whales from the desk and windows of your boat. CAA Travel Consultant Michele Moore recommends packing a pair of binoculars and scoping out the best spots on the outside decks when you first board your ship. She says there is a chance to see whales from the boat almost daily.
On land, keep your eyes out for the “Big Five” (moose, bears, Dall sheep, caribou, and wolves) of northern wildlife. Holland America Line offers close but safe wildlife encounters during on shore excursions. For example, on the Best of Sitka: Otters, Raptors and Bears excursion, you will sail on a catamaran in Sitka as you watch for sea otters playing along the shoreline. Then, you will visit the Alaska Raptor Centre and meet the residents before heading to the Fortress of the Bear rescue facility to see brown bears up close.
Take in the Gold Rush nostalgia
The Yukon is a renowned destination for its breathtaking scenery and wildlife. But the history of the Klondike Gold Rush runs deep in the Yukon’s Dawson City. Now home to around 1,500 people, Dawson City once attracted Gold Rush prospectors from far and wide looking to make their fortune. Now, the town proudly remembers its rich history. As you wander past shops with gold rush-era charm, you will find tour guides dressed as miners ready to help you explore the town and the history of the Klondike gold rush on tours.
In Dawson City, consider visiting Diamond Tooth Gerties. As Canada’s oldest gambling hall, Diamond Tooth Gerties is a blast from the past, and all proceeds get reinvested into the community. So, try your luck at the games of chance and take in a cancan show performed by Gertie herself!
If the history of Dawson City leaves you wanting to try your hand at gold panning, head to Goldbottom Mine. Take a tour of the modern gold mining field and hear stories from the miners themselves. You can even try your hand at panning for gold.
Ride the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
Depending on your itinerary, you may get the chance to ride the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway. On board the train, you will experience panoramic views of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, and much more. In addition, the Yukon Route Railroad allows you to discover Alaskan landscapes as the prospectors did.
The White Pass and Yukon Railway are recognized as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, a title it shares with the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel tower. The fleet comprises some fully restored and replica parlour cars, transporting you back to the Gold Rush. The railway weaves through cliffhanging turns and steep ravines, providing stunning views as it climbs over 900 metres.
Sail the Inside Passage
Alaska is home to towering glaciers, fjords, lush rainforests, and much more. You will enjoy the spectacular scenery as you cruise along the Inside Passage. Plus, the waters are generally calm, meaning sailing here is perfect for beginner cruisers and people who get seasick. The area also offers fantastic opportunities for seeing humpback whales, orcas and other marine life.
The Inside Passage is also home to Glacier Bay National Park. The park is only accessible by boat, and the number of ships entering the bay is limited, giving you a personal experience with the glaciers. Listen as the ice creaks and groans around you, and keep your eyes peeled for the humpback whales that call the bay home.
“When it comes to Glacier Bay, Holland America Line has the best views amongst all cruise lines,” Patricia Marques says. “Nothing is better than being wrapped in their signature wool blankets, sipping hot chocolate and their Dutch Split Pea soup while surrounded by magnificent mountains and the booming sounds of glaciers cracking and icebergs being born.”
Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers will love the chance to hike, kayak and bike while stopping within the Inside Passage. For those who prefer a quieter and more relaxing cruise, you will enjoy soaking in the natural hot springs or staying cozy aboard the cruise ship while you take in your peaceful surroundings.
Experience Alaska and the Yukon
If you’re ready to start planning your cruise to Alaska and the Yukon, book an appointment online with a CAA Travel Consultant to get started. CAA Members also get exclusive travel benefits when they book through CAA Travel, including $50 per person onboard spending credit (first two guests in a stateroom) and $50 USD Denali Dollars per person for first two guests on Alaska Cruisetours (Verandas staterooms and above).