ALASKA & YUKON
Alaska offers unrivaled scenery and adventure among its narrow fjords, rugged mountains and verdant forests. Glaciers loom over the sea like towers of blue ice while migrating whales can be spotted surfacing to exhale jets of spray. And scattered along the coast, remote outposts tell the hardscrabble history of Alaska: Sitka bears traces of the era when Russia ruled these shores, and Ketchikan is studded with the totem poles of Alaska’s native nations. In Skagway, you can walk into a swinging-door saloon, or board the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad to the legendary Yukon Territory where you can spot wildlife on woodland trails.
Alaska Land + Sea Journeys
An Alaska cruise vacation is an experience you won’t soon forget. Untamed, immense and magnificent, the Great Land is a place of astonishing beauty and no one knows it better than Holland America Line. First in Alaska, we’ve been showing guests this breathtaking region for nearly 70 years—longer than Alaska has been a state! And because we know this region so well, we’ve been able to create a fantastic selection of Land and Sea Journeys, combining an Alaska cruise with a more extensive adventure in the Great Land.
On an Alaska cruise, you’ll encounter massive tidewater glaciers, iconic wildlife, Klondike Gold Rush history and fascinating Native Alaskan cultures. No matter which cruise to Alaska you choose, you'll travel to the best places for viewing wildlife and experience scenic cruising along Tracy Arm, Hubbard Glacier or Glacier Bay, your Alaska vacation is a pleasure from start to finish.
Frosted crags descend into mossy forests and a 457-meter-deep (1,500-foot-deep) fjord at this World Heritage Site, which is also one of the planet’s largest biosphere reserves and the crown jewel of southeastern Alaska.
In 1794, the area’s first European explorer missed it all because a vast shield of ice, more than 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) thick, dominated the landscape. In one of the fastest retreats on record, the glaciers shrank back 105 kilometers (65 miles) by 1916. The formerly glacier-squashed land is still rebounding: A spruce-hemlock rain forest has sprouted near the mouth of Glacier Bay and wildlife has returned, from bald eagles to bears, moose and humpback whales.
Juneau, Alaska, US
Juneau, Alaska's capital city, has a population of around 32,000—mostly fisherfolk and small-business owners—and a frontier-town vibe, but it welcomes more than a million visitors each summer to its natural attractions. The city itself is pleasant, but the real highlight of a sojourn here is tracking down some native fauna. You can hike up Mount Roberts to chance upon wild deer and bald eagles. Most sightseeing and whale-watching tours head north to Auke Bay—bring a good pair of binoculars to get the best view of the majestic creatures. If you prefer land mammals, catch a floatplane to a nearby wildlife reserve such as Chichagof Island or Admiralty Island to spy some bears.
Ketchikan, Alaska, US
The first major landfall for most cruisers as they enter the picturesque fjords of the Inside Passage, Ketchikan has long been an important hub of the salmon-fishing and -packing industries. Here, visitors can try their luck on a sportfishing excursion or simply savor the fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants. It is also one of the best spots along the Inside Passage to explore the rich cultural sights of Native Alaskan nations like the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. In town, explore historic Creek Street, a boardwalk built over the Ketchikan Creek where you can shop for souvenirs, smoked salmon and local art.
Haines, Alaska, US
In the 1890s, Haines emerged as a stop for prospectors headed to the Yukon for the Klondike Gold Rush. Decades later it became a logging town, and after that, in the 1970s, it began focusing on tourism. These days, Haines is known as a haven for artists, nature lovers and adventure seekers. Activities include rafting and hiking; fishing for salmon, halibut or trout in the Chilkat River; or kayaking on Chilkoot Lake—not to mention heli-skiing in the winter. During the late fall and early winter, thousands of bald eagles migrate through the area to feed on salmon. The memory of prospector days lingers on with opportunities to pan for gold, while the Indian Arts gallery, with its totem-pole-carving studio, offers a glimpse of an even older Haines.
When you’re sailing towards Hubbard Glacier on a sunny day, the deep blue of its face looks like the blue of the furthest stars.
Hubbard Glacier is up to 65 meters (213 feet) wide at its face and 50 meters (164 feet) tall, but that’s only the tiniest piece of the ice: The main channel of this frozen river begins 122 kilometers (76 miles) back, pouring down from the shoulder of Mt. Walsh. This is the longest tidewater glacier (meaning it ends at the ocean) in North America. But unlike nearly every other glacier, Hubbard is advancing, not retreating, and forever pushing a little further into the bay. This glacier is on the move.
Sitka, Alaska, US
Sailing into Sitka today, you’ll still see vestiges of Russia’s influence, including the onion dome of St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House, both National Historic Landmarks. Stop by the visitor center of the Sitka National Historical Park to peruse its collections of Russian and Native Alaskan artifacts, and then join a ranger-led tour of the battlefield where Russia defeated the native Tlingit people. To experience a bit of nature, take a walk up Castle Hill for views of the dormant volcano Mount Edgecumbe. And be sure to check out the nearby Fortress of the Bear and Alaska Raptor Center for up-close encounters with some of Alaska’s most captivating creatures.