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What to Expect on a Holland America Alaskan Cruise

Eagles, moose and bears—oh my! If you’re looking for an unforgettable Alaskan cruise and land experience, look no further. Holland America Line has 149 years of experience (wowza, that’s a lot!), and offers some of the best Alaskan land and sea tours available.

From Fairbanks to Vancouver, you’ll enjoy breathtaking scenery as you sail through iconic destinations such as the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, and have plenty of time to explore Alaska’s stunning towns and villages onshore. Plus, with their award-winning service and extensive range of onboard activities, you’re sure to have a vacation you’ll never forget!

The Holland America 11-Day Double Denali cruise and land tour is the perfect way to see Alaska. The itinerary includes stops in Fairbanks, Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, as well as a three-day land tour of Denali National Park.

In Fairbanks, travelers can take the Riverboat Discovery Tour or visit the very chilly ice museum. Glacier Bay National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Alaska and is home to glaciers, mountains, and wildlife. Juneau is the capital of Alaska and offers more than just stunning views – visitors can go whale watching, visit the Alaska State Museum, or take a ride on the Mount Roberts Tramway. Skagway is a quaint town with a rich Gold Rush history. And finally, Ketchikan is known as the “ Salmon Capital of the World” and is home to Creek Street, a historic boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants.

Alaska Cruise Ports

Alaska is a popular destination for tours and cruises, and for good reason! You’ll find several national parks and landmarks which offer scenic views of mountains, glaciers, and forests, as well as the opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitat. Of course, it is not just the landscape that makes Alaska worth visiting. There’s also no shortage of things for visitors to explore and experience in one of its cities, such as their diverse cultures and rich history.


While Fairbanks may conjure images of ice and snow, this vibrant city is actually located in the heart of Alaska’s interior. Despite its secluded location, the city is home to a diverse population and offers a wide range of activities for residents and visitors alike.

The city is situated near numerous waterways, providing ample opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The city is also home to a number of parks and hiking trails, making it the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. In addition, there are several museums around the city where you can enrich yourself with its history, or if you’re more of an artsy person, ogle at some lovely ice art and sculptures (don’t miss the Fairbanks Ice Museum!).

With its unique mix of urban and rural attractions, there truly is something for everyone at Fairbanks.

Riverboat Discovery Tour

One of the most popular things to do in Alaska’s city of Fairbanks is taking the Riverboat Discovery Tour, and it is an excursion choice on your Holland America Alaskan cruise. The tour starts with a Bush Pilot Demonstration, where you can see how pilots fly in the rugged Alaskan terrain and land on the water. Next, you’ll get a peek at Trail Breaker Kennel, where you can see the dogs that help mushers travel through the wilderness. Finally, you’ll stop at Chena Indian Village Living Museum, where you can learn about the history and culture of the Alaskan Native people.

Riverboat Discovery Tour

Riverboat Discovery Tour Pilot Demo

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Alaska. The park is home to Mount Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, and is known for its stunning scenery and diverse wildlife. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking, camping, wildlife watching, and much more. In recent years, the park has also become a popular destination for winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. No matter what time of year you visit, Denali National Park is sure to impress.

Denali Wilderness Tour

Looking to get up close and personal with some of Alaska’s amazing wildlife? Then the Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour is for you. This narrated excursion takes you on a “school” bus ride deep into the heart of Denali National Park, where you’ll have the chance to see grizzly bears, caribou, Dall sheep, and more.

You’ll also get to experience the stunning landscapes of the park, from its towering mountains to its sprawling tundra. Best of all, you’ll be guided by an experienced naturalist who will help you make the most of your experience. So whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a first-time visitor, the Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour is sure to offer an unforgettable experience.

It’s also a good opportunity to check it off our US National Parks Bucket List: 61 Beauties to Visit in America!

Denali to Anchorage via McKinley Explorer

The Mckinley Explorer train is one of the best (and easiest!) ways to see Alaska. The train takes you from Denali to Anchorage, and the trip takes just under eight hours. The scenery is incredible, and you get to see some of the most beautiful parts of Alaska.

The train has two levels, and the dome-shaped upper level has big windows so you can really take in the views. The lower level has a dining car, where you can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 


Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, located in the south-central part of the state. And while the average winter temperatures are below freezing, the summers are warm and sunny, with many different outdoor activities to enjoy, such as hiking, biking, fishing, and camping.

Some of the best activities you can do here include hiking (or biking) the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, learning about history in Anchorage Museum (Alaska’s largest museum), and seeing glaciers on a day cruise or flightseeing tour to Portage Valley. If you’re looking to surprise yourself further, you can also walk around the city and discover tons of cool street art.

Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska Railroad Anchorage to Whittier

The Alaska Railroad is one of the most scenic railways in the world, and the Anchorage to Whittier route is one of its most popular.

The train travels through some of Alaska’s most stunning landscapes, including the Chugach Mountains and the Kenai Peninsula. The journey takes about 2.5 hours, and there are plenty of opportunities to take in the scenery along the way. 

Hubbard Glacier

An Alaskan cruise is not complete without a sailing through Hubbard Glacier. With a height of 600 feet (350 feet visible above water) and stretching over 76 miles long and 7 miles wide, it is one of the largest glaciers in North America. Because of its size, it’s also one of the most active (moving) glaciers in the world, advancing at a rate of 80 feet per year.

Cruise ships often stop at Hubbard Glacier so passengers can get a close-up view of the glacier (but not too close!) and its calving, where chunks of ice break off from the main glacier. While calving icebergs have become increasingly frequent in recent years due to climate change, it seems to have little to no effect on Hubbard Glacier, even growing more in size.

Hubbard Glacier

Glacier National Park

Glacier Bay National Park is home to a staggering 1045 glaciers (50 of which are named). Some of the most beautiful ones include the Lamplugh Glacier and Margerie Glacier.

Lamplugh Glacier is a small but easily accessible glacier located in John Hopkins Inlet (which is also home to several marine life worth seeing like harbor seals). 

Margerie Glacier is another popular destination for cruisers. This glacier is much larger than Lamplugh Glacier and offers breathtaking views of its crevasses and ice sculptures.

Both can be seen from the Holland America Alaskan Cruise.

Glacier Bay National Park John Hopkin's Inlet


Skagway is a historic town located in Alaska’s Inside Passage. The town is best known for being the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, when prospectors flooded into the area in search of gold.

Today, Skagway is a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a chance to experience a taste of the old frontier. The town’s main street, Broadway, is lined with quaint shops and restaurants, and there are several historic buildings to explore, including the Red Onion Saloon and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway Depot.

Skagway is also surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, with towering mountains, pristine forests, and glaciers all within easy reach.

Skagway Downtown

Chilkoot Trail Hike & Float

If you’re looking for an adventure that will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Alaska, the Chilkoot Trail Hike & Rafting Float is definitely for you.

The Chilkoot Trail was once a vital access route used to get through the Coast Mountains into the Yukon goldfields back in the late 1890s. Today, travelers can experience and walk the same path the prospectors and packers used back in the day. You can arrange the full 33-mile hike, but the Holland America cruise excursion only covers a 2-mile portion. 

The hike itself is a bit challenging (lots of uphill in the beginning!) but incredibly rewarding, and the float down the river is the perfect way to relax after a long day on the trail. Plus, you might get to see some fascinating wildlife along the way.


Juneau, Alaska, is a beautiful place to visit. The city is located in the state’s southeastern corner, surrounded by glaciers, mountains, forests, and diverse wildlife such as bears, eagles, and whales. It is also a fantastic place for visitors looking for excursions to Mendenhall Glacier due to its close proximity (just 12 miles from downtown Juneau.)

Visitors to Juneau can enjoy many activities, including hiking, fishing, whale watching, and kayaking. Some of the things you should not miss out on include a tour through the Tracy Arm Fjord, where the stunning twin Sawyer Glaciers await at the end. You can also learn about Alaska’s culture and history in the Alaska State Museum, which houses over 32,000 historical artifacts, art, and specimens.

Mendenhall Glacier Helicopter & Guided Walk

You probably already knew that you can see A LOT of glaciers in Alaska, but did you know that you could actually walk on one? Yep, it’s true! Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Alaska. With a length of 21.9 km and a width of about 2.4 km, plus reaching elevations of up to almost 5,200 feet, it is definitely a sight to behold for any traveler.

There are quite a few Holland America cruise excursions that will take you from downtown Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier by helicopter, which is located just outside of Juneau. We did the standard guided walk where our copter flew us around the glacier for a birds-eye view, then landed on the ice. We hopped out to WALK ON THE GLACIER!! There was even the option to drink glacier water, which I did!

Mendenhall Glacier


Ketchikan is a beautiful city located in southeastern Alaska. The city is known for its stunning scenery, waterfront location, and mountainous backdrop. And with five different salmon species coming in droves every July to September, it is known as the Salmon Capital of the World.

Ketchikan is also a great place to enjoy the outdoors, with its hiking trails and kayaking opportunities. Some of the best excursions include the Totem Bight State Historical Park, home to over 14 totem poles and a chieftain house, and the Misty Fjords, a nature lover’s paradise accessible only by plane or boat, and comprising almost 2.3 million acres of wilderness and is part of the Tongass National Forest.

In addition, the city is home to a variety of cultural attractions, including the Totem Heritage Center and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. And, of course, no visit to Ketchikan would be complete without taking a fishing charter or enjoying some of the fresh seafood.


Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer Cruise

The Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer Cruise is a great way to see some of Alaska’s most beautiful scenery. The Misty Fjords is part of the Tongass National Forest (the nation’s largest national forest) and is accessible mostly by boat or plane.

The cruise takes you through the Inside Passage, allowing you to see firsthand the stunning waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, and pristine waterways that make this state so unique. On the way back, you’ll also have the chance to see wildlife in their natural habitat, including whales, bald eagles, and sea otters.

Misty Fjords Waterfall in Alaska

Cruising Inside Passage

Alaska’s Inside Passage is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world—and it’s no wonder why. The Passage boasts some of the most stunning scenery on earth, from towering mountains and glaciers to pristine forests and crystal-clear waterways. 

This renowned coastal route takes you through the waters between portions of Washington (Puget Sound), British Columbia, and Alaska (Lynn Canal).

Wildlife is abundant, and there are plenty of opportunities to see orca whales!


Vancouver is a unique city with a fascinating history. The city has always been known for its beautiful scenery, mild climate, and diversity. It also offers many opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking, skiing, biking, sailing, and kayaking.

Some of the things you should not miss out on include walking/biking around Stanley Park (be sure to check out the seawall), exploring the art and food scene at the historic Gastown (and its Steam Clock), and the breathtaking views of Vancouver at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Onboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam

Dining Experience Inside Holland American’s Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Ship

There’s no shortage of great places to eat onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. For a taste of the Orient, Tamarind offers a delicious menu of traditional Asian dishes. Or, for Italian cuisine lovers, Canaletto serves up mouth-watering pizzas and pasta dishes (I had a delicious lasagna!). 

And if you’re looking for something light and healthy, the Lido Market buffet is perfect for grabbing a quick bite. Of course, no visit to Nieuw Amsterdam would be complete without trying the famous New York Pizza! 

Peter and Annette on the Ship Tamarind Bar

Suites & Staterooms Experience Inside Holland American’s Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Ship

Guests have plenty of options when it comes to the rooms inside Nieuw Amsterdam that will surely fit their needs. There are six room types to choose from: Inside (no windows), Ocean View, Verandah, Vista, Signature, and Neptune/Pinnacle. For my trip, I opted for the Verandah room.

The Verandah Cabins on board the Nieuw Amsterdam are some of the largest and most popular staterooms on the ship. Located on decks 4 and 8, these cabins offer amazing views of the ship’s wake and also feature a large bathroom with a tub and shower.

Cruise Ship Entertainment

Looking for a place to let loose and have some fun? Then head on over to the Nieuw Amsterdam Mainstage or B.B. Kings Blues Club for some entertainment where each night features a different show. You might see the BBC Earth wildlife documentary paired with live music, a hilarious comedian or entertaining dancers.

Onboard Activities

Looking for something to do onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam? You won’t be disappointed! There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained during your cruise. One popular option is hitting up the casino to try your luck at the slot machines. Or opt for a game of bingo where there’s potential to win some good money!

If you’re looking to relax, take a dip in one of the pools or enjoy a game of ping pong. There’s also a variety of onboard shops where you can browse for a souvenir insulated mug or piece of artwork.

Nieuw Amsterdam Pool Onboard Activity

. . .

Holland America Alaskan Cruises offer travelers a unique opportunity to experience the stunning natural beauty of Alaska while enjoying the amenities of a luxurious cruise ship. While each cruise is slightly different, there are a few things that you can expect on all of their cruises. First and foremost, you can expect Holland America’s trademark attention to detail and outstanding customer service. Holland America takes care of all the details so that you can relax and enjoy your vacation. You can also expect to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Alaska is home to glaciers, mountains, fjords, and wildlife, and Holland America’s cruises give you the chance to see it all. If you’re looking for an unforgettable Alaska cruise, Holland America is the perfect choice.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.

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