Summer is coming and the great white north is calling. In fact, if you listen closely you can almost hear roaring grizzly bears, splashing killer whales, rustling moose, and squawking bald eagles – all doing their best to attract tourists to share in the splendor of Alaska. So for those who have never taken a trip to the area, now is a great time to look for last-minute cruise specials.
One of the most popular lines sailing around the “last frontier” is Holland America, which has ships in the region bringing guests closer to the state’s natural wonders, such as Glacier Bay National Park, Hubbard Glacier, Twin Sawyer Glaciers of Tracy Arm, or the glaciers of College Fjord.
The company currently has numerous cruises around Alaska, ranging from seven to 14 days long, with a multitude of great itineraries and ports. They are also offering a bunch of specials and last-minute deals on Alaska cruises as well as other destinations.
One of the Holland America cruises I am currently looking at is the 7-day Alaskan Explorer, an exciting roundtrip journey from Seattle to Alaska’s charming coastal towns, including Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau. Spend a day in Glacier Bay National Park with experts that uncover the significance behind every spectacular view. The voyage begins aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam and departs July 24 and returns July 31, 2021.
The second of Holland America’s Signature-class ships, the 936-foot-long Nieuw Amsterdam celebrates historic New York City with its inspired design and an art collection valued at more than $3 million. While on board the 2,106-passenger ship, guests can enjoy regional cooking demonstrations and food and wine tastings. There are numerous specialty restaurants and a relaxing Greenhouse Spa & Salon.
The ship is known for its beautiful verandah rooms, which measure approximately 213 – 379 square feet including the verandah. Filled with light from floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a private verandah, these staterooms include a sitting area, two lower beds convertible to one queen-size bed, and a bath tub with premium massage showerheads.
And if you can afford a little more, for about $5,000 you can get the Neptune Suite, which is about 506 – 590 square feet including verandah. This luxurious suite boasts floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a private verandah and is flooded with light and features a large sitting area and two lower beds convertible to one king-size bed and a separate dressing room. There’s also a sofa bed, a bathroom with a dual-sink vanity, full-size whirlpool bath and shower, plus additional shower stall. Amenities include use of the exclusive Neptune Lounge, a private concierge and an array of complimentary services. The configuration of staterooms may vary from the images shown.
Once the room is booked I can look forward to getting an up-close look at Alaska once again. The 7-day Alaskan Explorer leaves from Seattle and then cruises Puget Sound for some unforgettable Pacific Northwest scenery. On Puget Sound cruises en route to the Great Land, Holland America promises guests they will see things like ice-capped mountains, remote islands dotted with gigantic Douglas firs and Mount Rainier.
Puget Sound also showcases The San Juan Islands, which are a wildlife-rich archipelago and popular vacation spot amongst locals. From the comfort of the ship, passengers can watch soaring eagles, harbor seals, and both humpback and orca whales..
After cruising through majestic Stephens Passage, the ship will dock in Juneau, one the most beautiful and strangest state capitals in the United States. Surrounded by water, forest and mountain sights, visitors seeking things to do in Juneau indoors and outdoors can hike a glacier, eat fresh-caught fish on a seaside patio and tour a grand capitol building all in one day.
The sleepy, misty city of around 32,000—mostly fishermen and small-business owners—has a frontier town vibe, but welcomes more than a million visitors each summer to its natural attractions, cementing Juneau as Alaska’s number-one tourist destination. Experience this breathtaking city on an Alaska cruise.
The voyage then sails through Glacier Bay, where guests can watch glaciers crash into the water, eagles soar across the sky and humpback whales breach. From here it’s off to Icy Strait Point and then to Sitka. Located on Baranof Island surrounded by the Sitka Sound’s icy blue water, the city not only boasts lush scenery and captivating wildlife, but it also offers a unique glimpse into Alaska history. Russia controlled Alaska from the mid-1700s until the United States purchased it in 1867, and Sitka was settled as the capital of Russian America with the name New Archangel.
Sail to Sitka on an Alaska Cruise today and you’ll see vestiges of Russia’s influence. Stroll past the onion dome of St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House, both National Historic Landmarks. On a Sitka, Alaska shore excursion, stop by the visitor center of the Sitka National Historical park to peruse fascinating collections of Russian and Native Alaskan artifacts, and then join a ranger-led tour of the battlefield where Russia fought the native Tlingit people.
The last stop is Ketchikan, the first major landfall for most cruisers as they enter the picturesque fjords of the Inside Passage, where the town clings to the banks of the Tongass Narrows, flanked by green forests nurtured by abundant rain. Ketchikan is a hub for salmon-fishing and is 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. You can see intricately carved totem poles at the Totem Heritage Center and Totem Bight State Park, while the attractions of Saxman Village just outside of Ketchikan offers the chance to see Tlingit culture in action, with working carvers and a dance show in the clan house.
For more information on taking an Alaska Cruise with Holland America, call 855 932 1711 or visit www.hollandamerica.com.