A cruise to Alaska attracts all sorts of travelers. Some are avid explorers and just have to cross “The Last Frontier” off of their bucket lists. Some visitors are cruising for adventure, others are attracted to the unique culture and history of the region, and others still are in it for the abundance of wildlife and awe-inspiring scenery. Whatever your reasons for visiting, Alaska opens up and offers each guest an incredible experience.
Whether you’ve visited many times before or are planning a cruise to Alaska for the first time, you can discover it anew. Each year Holland America Line carefully curates tours to offer the best of Alaska, and for 2015 nearly two-dozen new shore excursions — in addition to hundreds of existing favorites — promise something for everyone. Here are the details about the new Alaska tours:
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES ON EXCLUSIVE HAL TOURS IN VICTORIA
Victoria, B.C., is the gateway to many Alaska cruises, and this year Holland America Line is featuring a number of exclusive tours designed specifically for guests of our cruise line. The city boasts fabulous architecture, cultural experiences, history and culinary delights. Combine several of those features with Corks & Canvas, an exclusive art and wine event at the Robert Bateman Center — a gallery devoted to one of Canada’s premier artists at the historic Steamship Terminal in Victoria’s Inner Harbor and head to the second floor gallery, housing a collection of 160 pieces of Robert Bateman’s work.
One of Canada’s best-known artists, Bateman’s iconic works encompass a range of subjects, from large, almost abstract paintings to small, intense landscapes showcasing the grand scope of his approach to the natural world. Use Bateman’s work as inspiration for creating your own masterpiece. All supplies are provided, and you will be guided by a professional artist whose goal is to help everyone relax, have fun, and paint! A glass of wine or two may help to unleash your inner artist! Head back to the ship with your painting — it’s yours to keep!
If museums are up your alley, head out on the Off the Beaten Path: Aviation Museum & Cider Tasting tour. The BC Aviation Museum offers a step back in time, with more than 20 vintage aircraft on display. Some of the aircraft you will see include the Supermaine Spitfire, Republic Seabee, Nieuport 17 and the Eastman Sea Rover. Then you’ll head over to the Sea Cider Farm & Cider House for a tasting of five organic ciders and a snack plate featuring local cheeses, meats and rustic breads.
Or you might want to check out Sights, Sounds & Tastes of British Columbia. This exclusive Holland America Line tour is an uplifting experience of British Columbia, designed to captivate your senses. Your destination is the Oak Bay Beach Hotel — a crown jewel and beloved landmark that has stood on a magnificent stretch of Pacific Ocean coastline for more than 80 years. Travel back to another era as you walk through the opulent hallways and arrive at the David Foster Foundation Theatre — named for the Victoria native and 16-time Grammy Award winning record producer. Relax and enjoy a sommelier-guided sampling of five award-winning B.C. wines paired with creative plates of Executive Chef Iain Rennie’s locally inspired bitess. As the evening progresses, the stage will come alive with a solo performance from Laura Jayne, who will take you through a collection of Canada’s best-known music. Laura Jayne starred as Roxie Hart in Broadway’s Chicago musical and was most recently the headliner on the world’s largest cruise ship. She will take you on a fun-filled musical journey with special guest performances including the Ballet Victoria.
FLIGHTSEEING, HIKING AND HOVERING ON ADVENTUROUS ALASKA TOURS
Adrenaline junkies rejoice! Holland America Line has an array of unforgettable new tours by land, sea, and sky available to get your heart pumping on Alaska cruises. If you’re looking to soar like an eagle check out The Crown Adventure by Helicopter at Anchorage! The flight takes you from Alaska’s largest city through the surrounding peaks, valleys and iceberg-studded lakes. Especially cool about this tour is that no two are the same. The pilot has the flexibility to explore whatever fits the mood.
At Juneau the Taku Glacier Hovercraft Adventure allows you to explore “no man’s land.” Pull on your rubber boots and hop into an amphibious hovercraft that can travel with ease over water, ice, sandbars and grassland. Your knowledgeable pilot will navigate a maze of sandbars to a landing site near the face of Taku Glacier — a place of constant change — as the glacier slowly inches its way across the valley. You will have time to explore this other-worldly environment on foot, while enjoying spectacular views in every direction.
If you’ve always dreamed of exploring Alaska on foot check out Sitka’s Great Adventure. This multi-faceted tour combines wildlife-sighting with a hike through Tongass National Forest to the lake. Fly fishing or spin casting gear is provided for those who want to try their luck, along with bait and tackle. Inflatable canoes and a small dock for launching invite you to paddle along the shoreline. You can continue to hike around the lake, or relax by the camp fire — it’s your Alaskan getaway!
Historic Skagway is the perfect backdrop for more Alaskan adventure. The new tour Gold Panning, Sled Dogs & 40 Degrees Below Zero takes you past the wooden walkways of downtown Skagway to the Klondike Gold Fields. In one tour you can pan for gold, get to know a sled dog team and gear up to experience 40 degrees below zero in a “cold chamber.” Breathe in the outdoors, get to know these Alaskan icons and maybe leave a little richer if you find a golden nugget!
EMBRACE YOUR WILD SIDE AND GET UP CLOSE WITH ORCAS, EAGLES & SEALS
When you travel to Alaska you will no doubt be enveloped by natural beauty, but some tours zone in on the nature and wildlife specifically. Set against a background of hanging glaciers and waterfalls, Haines Whales & Lighthouse Tales gets you up close to nesting bald eagles, humpback whales, orcas and harbor seals. The tour continues to The Eldred Rock Lighthouse, a picturesque and historic octagonal lighthouse that was first lit in 1906. It is the oldest remaining lighthouse in Alaska and one of the most remote in North America. Seals and their pups bask on the rocks around the lighthouse and sea birds play in the surf, creating an idyllic image.
On cruises that call at Homer, the Best of the Bay features the beauty of scenic Kachemak Bay and Kachemak Bay State Park on a 2½-hour cruise to Gull Island. The island is a famous bird rookery with eight species of birds including puffins, cormorants and gulls. Watch for sea otters and other marine wildlife, then continue across the bay to Eldred Passage, Sadie Cove and Tutka Bay, returning to the harbor with time to spare.
Another fabulous new option is the Rainforest Canoe & Nature Trail. Board a 37-foot Native-style canoe that is fast, stable and easy to maneuver. Paddling under the direction of an experienced guide, scan the shore for wildlife and learn about the natural and Native history of the Ketchikan area. Step ashore at a remote base camp for an Alaskan-style snack, including smoked salmon, clam chowder, and rolls with wild berry jams and beverages. It is a rare opportunity to comfortably explore Southeast Alaska in the same way it was discovered by its original explorers and inhabitants.
DREAMING OF A CRUISE TO ALASKA? BOOK NOW WITH READY SET SAIL
If you are dreaming of a cruise to Alaska now’s a great time to book! Holland America Line’s ReadySetSail promotions combine some of the iconic and unforgettable Alaska experiences with fabulous perks like discounts on family friendly shore excursions — think whale watching and wildlife tours — reduced fares for third and fourth guests, and onboard spending credits. There are many different itineraries to choose from including 7-day Glacier Discovery and 14-day Alaska Roundtrip Collectors’ Voyage.
These are just some of the exciting new tours that have been added for the 2015 Alaska cruise season. There are 23 new tours in total — including those listed below — which enhance an already exciting roster of Alaska tours. Follow this link to search all of available shore excursions in Alaska and beyond.
If you have any questions or would like assistance booking your shore excursions please contact our Shore Excursions Call Center at 1-888-425-9376 or 206-626-7320, Monday – Friday, 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Remember, you can pre-book the tour of your choice to save time on your vacation!
What kind of cruiser are you? Do you seek adventure, nature, culture or all of the above? Let us know in the comments below!
December 2015 UPDATE: Take Advantage of View & Verandah
We want to make your dream cruise even dreamier with our new View & Verandah promotion. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016. Check out the offer to see if your dream cruise is included and book now!