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Holland America, Princess are offering land vacations in Alaska this summer

FILE PHOTO: PRINCESS CRUISES CRUISE_Denali_Park_Photo_Princess_Cruises.jpg
Hiking in Denali National Park
Big-ship Alaska cruises are looking unlikely this summer but Holland America Line and Princess Cruises are making it possible for travelers to visit on land programs.

These will be available via Gray Line Alaska, Princess Alaska Lodges and Holland America Line’s Westmark Hotels, giving a combination of tours, lodging and sightseeing options.

'We’re committed to helping locals and visitors alike experience all the best parts of Alaska in a safe way,' said Dave McGlothlin, VP tour operations. '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.'

Tours highlight Alaska’s interior with COVID-19 health and safety precautions top of mind. A tour takes the legwork out of planning, while hotel and sightseeing options are available for travelers who want to go at their own pace and make their own itinerary.

Chances to see 'the big five'

Among the escorted tours highlights are a full eight-hour Tundra Wilderness Tour at Denali, where participants have opportunities to see 'the big five' — grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou and Dall sheep. Other included tours are the Portage Glacier Cruise near Anchorage and Riverboat Discovery excursion in Fairbanks. In addition, optional tours such as flightseeing around the mountain, river rafting and more will be available to book at each hotel property. 

Escorted and explorer tours

Options this summer include escorted and explorer tours. Variations between Kenai, Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks are available.

Escorted tours include a tour director and range from six to seven nights. Explorer tours do not include a tour director, but staff members are available to help along the way. Tours range from five to six nights. Rail travel is on GoldStar service on Alaska Railroad rail cars. Most meals and some sightseeing are included.

Denali Rail tours

Trip variations range from one to six nights with up to four nights at Denali National Park. Options include travel by rail or a combination of rail and deluxe motor coach. Rail travel is hosted in Adventure Class on Alaska Railroad rail cars with the option to upgrade to GoldStar. 

Tour choices include round-trip from Anchorage to Denali, Anchorage to Denali to Fairbanks, or Fairbanks to Denali to Anchorage.

Meals and sightseeing are not included. Travelers may customize their experience with optional tours.

Hotel only and sightseeing

The Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center is currently open. Additional properties will open May 28 to Sept. 6, including Holland America's McKinley Chalet Resort at Denali National Park and Preserve and the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge overlooking the Kenai River.

Portage Glacier Cruises will operate, May 28 to Sept. 6. The company will run five daily departures of its one-hour cruise to see the face of Portage Glacier, including one departure at 1:30 p.m. that includes round-trip transportation from Anchorage with a stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

2022 Alaska cruises

In 2022, Holland America will celebrate 75 years of Alaska exploration — longer than any other cruise line — and bookings are now open for its cruises and Land+Sea Journeys. From April through October next year, travelers can embark on cruises to Alaska aboard Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Oosterdam and Zuiderdam.

The company offers 16 different Land+Sea Journeys that combine a three-, four- or seven-day cruise with an inland exploration of Denali, and HAL is the only cruise line that extends land tour options into the reaches of Canada’s Yukon Territory. 

Princess, meanwhile, offers exclusive Direct to the Wilderness rail service on custom-built rail cars plus its Princess Wilderness Lodges. The line's 2022 Alaska cruise and cruise-tour program offers six ships, including its newest, Discovery Princess.

Princess will offer a dozen cruise itineraries plus 25 cruise-tour options that combine a seven-day 'Voyage of the Glaciers' cruise with multiple nights on land in the heart of Alaska. Every cruise-tour features Alaska’s top two attractions Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National, with options ranging from 10 to 17 nights.