December 3, 2021

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Just Do Travel

Cruise lines offer land-only tours in Alaska: Travel Weekly

2 min read

With cruise ship travel to Alaska still in question this summer, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises said they will offer land-only tours of the state using their network of lodging and tour assets.

Both cruise lines have been offering Alaska land tours for decades utilizing the Princess Alaska Lodges, Holland America Line Westmark Hotels and Gray Line Alaska tours. Their Alaska cruisetours have long combined a cruise with either a pre- or post-cruise tour.

Among this summer’s options will be 6- and 7-night escorted tours with a tour director, and 5- and 6-night explorer tours with staff but no director, in Kenai, Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks with service on Alaska Railroad rail cars. Denali Rail tours, from Anchorage or Fairbanks, of 1 to 6 nights, include up to four nights at Denali National Park and travel by rail or a combination of rail and motor coach.

The Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center is open, and additional properties will open for guests starting May 28, including Holland America Line’s McKinley Chalet Resort at Denali National Park and Preserve and the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge overlooking the Kenai River.

Tour highlights include an eight-hour Tundra Wilderness Tour at Denali; the Portage Glacier Cruise near Anchorage and Riverboat Discovery excursion in Fairbanks. Optional add-ons include flightseeing around Denali and river rafting that can be booked at the hotels.

Dave McGlothlin, vice president of tour operations for both brands, said that they are “committed to helping locals and visitors alike experience all the best parts of Alaska in a safe way.”

“For the last year, many people stayed close to home, so this summer, as we’re able to reopen some of these land offerings, we are more ready than ever to welcome visitors back through our doors,” he added.

The Alaska big-ship cruise season is threatened by Canada’s decision to extend its cruise ship ban until February 2022, because large ships must either begin, end or call in Canadian ports as part of Alaska itineraries.

Both Princess and Holland America canceled their sailings that begin or end in Canada this year but said they were engaged with U.S. and Canadian officials to try to preserve a portion of their Alaska seasons, including sailings from Seattle. And in the meantime, they were committed to operating land packages.

“Princess Cruises has sailed to Alaska for more than 50 years, and the incredible Last Frontier is part of our proud heritage,” said Jan Swartz, Princess’ president, said in a statement. “We understand how much of Alaska is dependent on the cruise economy. We are going to do all we can to help our business partners and the communities of Alaska.”