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Holland America Line's Westerdam sailing past the Hubbard Glacier (Photo: HAL)

Discover Alaska: And Find Out Why Holland America Line is #1 In Alaska for More Reasons Than One

Holland America Line's Westerdam sailing past the Hubbard Glacier (Photo: HAL)
Louise Goldsbury

Last updated
Jan 11, 2024

Read time
8 min read

Sponsored by Holland America Line

For an unforgettable journey through a frozen wonderland, an Alaska cruise with Holland America Line in 2024 should top your wish list. Beyond the breathtaking wilderness and wildlife, this year brings a new culinary experience to Holland America, with locally sourced sustainable seafood served onboard – from port to plate in less than 48 hours.

The timeless experiences in nature remain as memorable as ever. Explore the Alaska glaciers including the World Heritage Site of Glacier Bay National Park, a serene waterway from the Inside Passage to towering marvels of ice, such as the largest in North America, Hubbard Glacier. Witness the “white thunder” of iceberg calving from the ship, while spotting Alaska wildlife including whales, birdlife, brown bears and moose.

Learn about the heritage and culture from indigenous Huna Tlingit guides and on fascinating shore excursions. The adventure continues with Alaska land and sea cruisetour packages, including accommodation and tours not offered by any other cruise line.

Why Cruise With Holland America Line?

Glacier Bay National Park (Photo: Benny Marty/Shutterstock)

In the 150-year history of Holland America, Alaska has been a favourite destination for more than 75 years. As the longest-running Alaska cruise line since 1947, before Alaska was even a state, Holland America has more experience in this region than any other cruise line and the most departures featuring Glacier Bay National Park (pictured above).

Every Holland America Alaska cruise is dedicated to glacier-viewing from ships that are perfectly mid-sized for getting up close to the action. Spacious and sophisticated, the ships are built for cruising, not crowds, with distinctive blue hulls and wraparound decks.

Westerdam in Yakutat Bay Alaska (Photo: HAL)

Holland America offers an ideal balance of intimacy and amenities. Six of the 11-strong fleet of HAL ships will visit Alaska in 2024, typically accommodating between 1,400-2,600 guests, allowing for a more personalised experience. The onboard service provided is often praised for its attentiveness, professionalism and commitment to guest satisfaction. From the moment you step aboard, you are greeted with a warm and hospitable atmosphere, with crew dedicated to delivering exceptional service throughout your journey.

During the prime time of May to September, seven-day cruises depart every weekend, either roundtrip from Vancouver on ‘Alaskan Inside Passage’ itineraries or from Seattle on the ‘Alaskan Explorer’.

This cruise line is also renowned for its extended Alaska land and sea holidays, combining an ocean cruise and a multiple-day tour that delves deeper into Alaska’s rugged interior, with accommodation in a riverside wilderness lodge.

Discover the Latest Alaska Deals On Holland America

Alaskan Animals Abound on a Holland America Line Cruise

Humpback whale in Alaska (Photo: Adobe/HAL)

The captivating Alaska wildlife surrounds visitors from every angle: in the pristine waters, shuffling along the shores and soaring above in the sky. Spot the ‘big five’ animals of Alaska (brown bears, moose, caribou, grey wolves and Dall sheep) as well as abundant birds and marine life thriving in their natural habitat.

Whale watching in Alaska is exceptional, from breaching humpbacks to the striking sight of black-and-white orcas. June and July are the best months for humpback whales, while orcas are often seen near Juneau, Ketchikan and Seward between early May and June.

Birdwatchers will be in aviary heaven. Alaska is home to around 30,000 bald eagles, flying majestically overhead and swooping for fish. Peregrine falcons migrate to Alaska in spring, while some live there year-round, nesting on cliffs and diving at speeds of over 300 km/hr to catch their prey. Tufted and horned puffins are found between spring and autumn, most easily encountered on a kayak excursion.

Bears in Alaska (Photo: Adobe/HAL)

Bear sightings often align with salmon-spawning season in the spring and summer, as they head to the water to catch a meal. Popular bear-viewing tours depart from Anchorage, Kodiak and Juneau.

The huge Alaskan moose can be seen year-round. Late September and October is mating season, when males fight with their antlers in competition for females. The best opportunity to see newborns is at the end of May. Grey wolves travel in packs but sightings are unpredictable. Denali is also one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of wolves in the wild.

Tours depart from Anchorage and Denali National Park.

#1 In Alaska Wildlife & Wilderness Tours

Bald eagle flying in Ketchikan (Photo: HAL)

Holland America offers more access to Alaska wildlife than any other cruise line. Shore excursions focus on water-based and land-based activities to up close to the magnificent animals and scenery beyond the icescapes.

Board a 26-passenger expedition boat on the ‘Glacier Point Wilderness Safari’ to see whales, seals, sea lions, waterfalls and even a remote beach. The ‘Birds, Bears and Barnacles’ tour guarantees sightings of bald eagles and brown bears as well as marine life at aquariums, touch tanks and a salmon hatchery. Or go kayaking past rainforests, among the reefs and swirling kelp, as you scan the coast, sky and sea for wildlife.

#1 In Alaska Glaciers

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska (photo: Luis Boucault/Shutterstock)

An unbeatable array of memorable glacier-viewing tours is offered by Holland America. Get a close-up view from a ship or catamaran, or admire them from above on a thrilling helicopter experience.

More active excursions allow guests to land on a glacier and trek across the surface on a guided hike or roam around in an ATV. For the ultimate Alaskan adventure, carve it up on a dogsled, mushing a team of huskies through the snow. Accessible only by air, the camp is led by seasoned veterans of the legendary Iditarod Race who will teach you the tricks of the trade.

In Anchorage, take a train journey through the Chugach forest on the Alaska Railroad’s Glacier Discovery route to Spencer Glacier, or cruise to the brilliant blue Portage Glacier. In Seward, a cruise navigates the glacier-filled Kenai Fjords National Park.

Holland America’s Exclusive McKinley Chalet Resort at Denali

McKinley Chalet Resort Denali (Photo: HAL)

Visit the Denali National Park on an Alaska Cruisetour. Offered pre- or post-cruise, this inland trip begins with a scenic train ride on the glass-domed McKinley Explorer railcars to reach McKinley Chalet Resort. As the base camp for your stay, this 60-acre property is conveniently located near the entrance to the park on the banks of the Nenana River.

Among the outdoor pursuits are river rafting, ATV exploring, flightseeing, hiking and biking. Bear, moose, sheep and caribou forage in the forest and mountainous landscape.

Denali Square Alaska (Photo: HAL)

In the centre is Denali Square, a bustling hub to dine at Karstens Restaurant, enjoy live entertainment at the Gold Nugget Saloon, visit the artists-in-residence cabin and shop for handcrafted local goods. In the evening, make s’mores over an outdoor firepit and swap stories of the day’s adventures.

Holland America is the only cruise line to include the Tundra Wilderness Tour into Denali National Park on all two- and three-night stays at McKinley Chalet Resort. Accompanied by wildlife experts and National Park Service Rangers, it explores the ecology, wildlife and gold rush history of Denali National Park. A complimentary Denali Natural History Tour is included for all guest on one-night park stays.

Accommodation is in the tradition of national park lodges, a balance of rustic and refined, with comfortable rooms and hotel-style amenities.

Holland America’s Global Fresh Fish Program

Chef Morimoto NYC Fresh Fish Event (Photo: HAL)

Sustainable seafood is central to the culinary experience on Holland America. The Fresh Fish Program is the first of its kind, partnering with a global network of 60 ports to source and serve 80 types of fresh fish on board. Destination-specific menu items use native ingredients from around the world, highlighting the flavours of each region where guests are cruising.

A new relationship with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto brings his curated dishes to the main dining room and an upcoming pop-up restaurant. In Alaska, guests can dine on king salmon, black cod, dover sole and many more delicious menu items. New seafood dishes, designed by Master Chef and Culinary Council member Ethan Stowell, include roasted fennel-crusted Alaska halibut, a fried Alaska cod sandwich with malt vinegar aioli, and Alaskan salmon chop with cucumber, tomato and avocado.

Holland America Line was the first cruise line to serve 100 percent fresh, certified sustainable Alaska seafood on board its ships, and to earn the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification, demonstrating its commitment to the Alaskan communities responsible for the catch.

Holland America’s Onboard Experience

Dining Room Food on Holland America Line (Photo: HAL)

The food and wine program extends to many other styles of cuisine in fine and casual dining venues, but this is only one aspect of the onboard experience. Holland America is known for its impeccable service and the attentive way that the courteous crew treats each guest.

B.B. King's Blues Club aboard Eurodam (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

World-class entertainment includes live music at the Lincoln Centre Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club, Rolling Stones Lounge and Billboard Onboard. Enrichment programs also play a significant role in Holland America Line's Entertainment offerings.

Guests can attend fascinating workshops, cooking demonstrations, lectures & talks about specific topics and destinations and learn new skills while at sea with lessons offered such as Pickleball.

The Verandah Cabin on Nieuw Amsterdam (Photo: Cruise Critic)

The fleet’s sleek, nautical lines express Holland America’s authentic heritage. The elegant ships are tastefully appointed, with museum-quality art and fresh flowers. Thoughtfully designed suites and staterooms ensure a comfortable home away from home.

Holland America’s Alaska 2024 Cruises

Tracy's King Crab Shack Juneau (Photo: HAL)

Two award-winning itineraries are offered every week between May and September, along with an array of other options to suit your length of stay needs and destination choices.

The seven-day roundtrip ‘Alaskan Explorer’ from Seattle visits Puget Sound, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria BC, with select cruises sailing to Glacier Bay, Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier.

The seven-day roundtrip cruise from Vancouver, Canada, sails through the Inside Passage to Tracy Arm Inlet and Glacier Bay, with stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.

Book before 29 February on Have It All Fare and receive up to 30% off launch fares, stateroom upgrade, premium beverage package, Wi-Fi and more. Terms and conditions apply.

Publish date January 03, 2024
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