Grand Alaskan Cruise & Tour (Regular Pattern)
Tour Starts: Seattle, WA
Tour Ends: Anchorage, AK
(Thursday) - Arrive Seattle, WA:
Today your Alaskan Cruise Tour adventure begins upon arrival in Seattle. If you purchased your airline tickets from YMT Vacations, you will be welcomed in the baggage claim area by a YMT representative and transferred to your hotel. Guests with individual air arrangements will have to make their own way to the hotel. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Hotel: Holiday Inn Seattle Downtown*
(Friday) - Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC and Embarkation:
This morning we drive north and across the Canadian border into British Columbia. Our knowledgeable driver-guide will introduce you to Vancouver, Canada’s third largest metropolitan area, during a brief orientation tour. After time for lunch on your own, you will board the Celebrity Millennium, your floating hotel for the next week, with time to settle into your stateroom before dinner.
(Saturday) - Scenic Inside Passage Cruising:
Cruise along the Alaska Inside Passage and the west coast of Vancouver Island. The famous Inside Passage is one of the most scenic sea-lanes in the world, and one of the few where cruise ships can sail close to steep mountain walls. The scenery is unbelievable, with forests in a hundred shades of green, tumbling turquoise glaciers, and evocative towns loaded with history, culture and adventure. With most of Southeast Alaska accessible only by boat or plane, the Inside Passage is a lifeline to the outside world. When explorer John Muir first sailed the Inside Passage, he could hardly tear himself away from the rail for fear of missing some new marvel. “Never before,” he wrote, “have I been embosomed in scenery so hopelessly beyond description tracing shining waves through fjord and sound, past forest and waterfall, islands and mountains.”
(Sunday) - Ketchikan, AK (7:00AM – 3:00PM):
Eye-catching and inviting, this distinctive city is built on stilts over the water, with a boardwalk and weathered stairways that cling to the granite cliff shores of Tongass Narrows. There’s plenty to see in this unique fishing port: stroll along the picturesque waterfront district, visit the Tongass Historical Museum, and wander through the former “Red Light” district with its gold shops, gift boutiques, and restaurants. Ketchikan is also home to the world’s largest collection of Native American totem poles. Optional shore excursions include flight-seeing to breathtaking Misty Fjords National Monument; a jeep, canoe or kayak safari; visiting the Native Saxman Village and more.
(Monday) - Icy Strait Point, AK (8:00AM – 6:00PM):
For thousands of years, the Tlingit Indians (pronounced ‘Klink-it’) have called this place home. Located just 22 miles southeast of Glacier Bay National Park, Icy Strait Point and its port Hoonah offers travelers the chance to view wildlife like humpback whales, eagles, and brown bears, or to explore monuments to the region’s fishing heritage. Hoonah has been a fishing village for hundreds of years and today Icy Strait Point serves as a unique gateway to indigenous cultural heritage and wilderness as well as providing economic opportunities and stability for the local community. Optional shore highlights include the Hoonah Packing Company Cannery Museum along with the Native Heritage Center. You may also like to take a spectacular flight-seeing tour of nearby Glacier Bay.
(Tuesday) - Juneau, AK (7:00AM – 8:30PM):
Today’s port-of-call is Alaska’s state capital city, nicknamed “Little San Francisco” because of its narrow streets and multicolored houses that hug the hillside. Sitting at the foot of snowcapped Mt. Juneau and next to the massive Mendenhall Glacier and Juneau Icefields, this remote yet developed city offers a variety of activities. Take the Mt. Roberts Tramway up 1800 feet for incredible panoramic views, and to explore the mountaintop complex with its extensive trail system, Nature Center, bald eagle exhibit, bear viewing platforms, shop and craft displays. You may also join an optional Whale Watch Cruise and Mendenhall Glacier Tour.
(Wednesday) - Skagway, AK (7:00AM – 4:00PM):
Where the Gold Rush began, Skagway was the turbulent staging point for prospectors hell-bent on getting to the Klondike gold fields; even in modern day, Skagway’s well preserved history and culture brings to life the 1898 gold rush atmosphere like no other Alaskan port of call. Go ashore to stroll the weathered boardwalks and drop in at old-time saloons or shop for gold nuggets. Follow along historic paths by purchasing tickets for a ride in a vintage parlor car up the historic White Pass, via the narrow gauge railway. A scenic Skagway Float Tour to combine sightseeing and rafting and the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp and Salmon Bake are also featured as optional shore excursions. No matter how you decide to experience Skagway, you’re bound to feel the gold rush fever!
(Thursday) - At Sea – Hubbard Glacier:
Hubbard Glacier, one of the highlights on your Alaskan cruise awaits you today. Hubbard Glacier is the largest calving glacier on the North American continent and is more than 70 miles long. The glacier routinely calves off icebergs as high as 10-story buildings, sending massive blocks of ice into the sea every few minutes. It takes about 400 years for ice to traverse its length, meaning that the ice at the foot of the glacier is about 400 years old, and the cliff face you sail along is over six miles wide and over 300 feet high. As Hubbard is advancing, it creaks and groans as it moves which makes for some exciting moments when the huge chunks of ice crash into the Bay creating a wonderful sound called ‘white thunder’ by the Tlingit people. The ship’s daily program outlines a wide variety of shipboard activities.
(Friday) - Disembarkation in Seward, AK, to Anchorage, AK and City Tour:
We disembark this morning in the port community of Seward where the land portion of your Alaskan cruise tour begins. Meet your tour director who will take you on a brief city tour of this popular fishing village surrounded by the unrivaled beauty of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the Chugach National Forest, and the Kenai Fjords National Park. Then, travel north on your comfortable motorcoach to Anchorage along the scenic Seward highway. En route we visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see Alaska’s wildlife up close. The Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through public education. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center takes in injured and orphaned animals year-round and provides spacious enclosures and quality animal care. Animals that cannot be released into the wild are given a permanent home at the center. Bears, elks, bison and eagles, amongst others can be seen here. Continue to Anchorage and enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour including Ship Creek and the Ulu Factory, where you can learn about this all-purpose knife that has been used by native Alaskan people for more than three thousand years. After some time to stroll in downtown and perhaps get in some shopping, arrive at your hotel in the evening.
Hotel: Clarion Suites Anchorage*
(Saturday) - Denali via Talkeetna and Wasilla, AK:
As we leave Anchorage in the morning and travel north towards Talkeetna on the Parks Highway, your journey will take you through the scenic Matanuska-Susitna Valley which is one of the most important agricultural areas in Alaska. En route we will visit the Iditarod Sled Dog Headquarters near Wasilla where you will have the opportunity to learn about “The Last Great Race”. The annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race takes place in early March and is considered to be the hardest and longest of its kind anywhere and is also the most popular sporting event in Alaska. The town of Talkeetna is located approximately 120 miles north of Anchorage. This small, distinctive community of less than 800 residents is the main staging area for climbers waiting to start their ascent of Mt. McKinley and the Alaska Mountain Range. On a clear day, views of the mountains from Talkeetna are breathtaking. From here your tour will continue towards Denali National Park by coach.
You may be interested in taking an optional train ride aboard the famous Alaska Railroad from Talkeenta to Denali and experience the magnificent Alaskan wilderness from a new perspective with a 360o view through large picture windows on upper-level dome car seats. The railroad follows the serpentine banks of the Susitna River. On clear days views of Mt. McKinley emerge across the river presenting many chances for photos, as do black and brown bears that frequent the sandbars and scuttle into the brush as the train approaches. Next, the Indian River Canyon is home to many beavers and beaver lodges that can be seen in the ponds along the way. As the track climbs toward the tree line, the train first crosses Hurricane Gulch, the longest bridge on the railroad just over 914 feet and 296 feet above Hurricane Creek before it moves into Broad Pass. At 2,363 feet it is the highest point on the railroad, and where caribou migrate through during the fall. (Note the Alaska Railroad train segment is extra and must be booked in advance - ask your travel consultant.)
Both rail and coach travelers will meet up in Denali and be transferred to the hotel. This afternoon you have some time to explore on your own or to participate in optional excursions.
Hotel: Denali Bluffs*
(Sunday) - Denali National Park to Anchorage, AK:
At 6 million acres, Denali National Park is one of the world’s largest great frontiers for wilderness adventure. This morning embark on a Denali Natural History Tour. With a focus on the rich, cultural history of Denali National Park, the Denali Natural History tour provides insight on the diverse native and early pioneer influences in and around Denali. You will learn about the history and culture that surrounds you at a Living History presentation while visiting Savage Cabin, the original cook’s cabin in the Park’s first tourist camp, and still a ranger patrol cabin used by the Park Service. Learn more about local native culture at Primrose Ridge. Your driver/naturalist will provide a great introduction to the landscape, geology and history of Denali National Park. Your tour will also include a stop at the Wilderness Access Center for viewing of “Across Time & Tundra” – an award winning presentation on the building of the park road. In the afternoon you will depart Denali for Anchorage.
Htoel: Clarion Suites Anchorage*
(Monday) - Depart Anchorage, for Home:
Today, bid farewell to Alaska, taking home a suitcase full of memories and stories to share from your YMT Alaskan vacation! Transfers to Anchorage airport are included for guests who purchased their air arrangements from YMT.
Flights to most cities depart Anchorage in the late evening, some after midnight, and arrive at their destination the following day (Tuesday). In order to take full advantage of your last day in Anchorage, check out from your hotel room and enjoy some time on your own in the city, visit local museums and attractions, or book one of the optional excursions offered. For your comfort and convenience, a hospitality room with refreshments will be provided complimentary and your luggage can be stored at the hotel until you depart for the airport. A local guide will also be available to help you plan your day and answer any questions.
All sightseeing mentioned during port visits is optional, subject to change and available as part of a shore excursion program at extra cost.
Note: Some of the sightseeing and visits included in this land tour require walking and some periods of standing. Steps, stairs and uneven ground will also be encountered occasionally. This should not pose a challenge to most guests, but please consider this when booking this tour.
*or similar accommodations