Alaska unplugged

By Helen Hayes September 29, 2023
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No one has been cruising in Alaska longer than Holland America Line, and in this last frontier, experience counts.

The noise reverberates like a cracked whip across the mirror-smooth bay, and we watch, jaws agape, as a chunk of ancient glacier breaks apart and shatters into the water below.

Experts call it ‘calving’, but it looks and feels way more dramatic when you witness it from​ the ​deck of a ship, front and centre ​rather than ​on a TV documentary or in a travel magazine. It is visceral, loud and literally, in your face.

Alaska is nature at its best, and the best way to see ​it is​ on a cruise with ​Holland America Line.

Cruise with Alaskan cruise royalty

Holland America Line is the longest running Alaska cruise line, sailing the icy waters of the Inside Passage since 1947. That is 76 years showcasing this untamed and isolated part of North America. Back in 1947, the tourism industry was in its infancy, with the 49th state’s economy mostly based on timber, fishing and gold. It is hard to fathom that in 1867, the USA’s Secretary of State William H. Seward, at the behest of President Abraham Lincoln, negotiated the purchase Alaska from Russia for US$7.2 million – at less than two cents an acre. The town of Seward is named after him.

Holland America Line’s cruising credentials go back even further than 1947, with their first journey, on board the Rotterdam in 1872, ​departing ​​the Netherlands for New York City. In 2023, this revered company is celebrating its 150th anniversary – a wonderful achievement. The company now has 11 beautiful ships, with six of them – Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam and Zaandam – delivering a premium Alaska experience.

The Nieuw Amsterdam from above and guests whale spotting on a day excursion. Image credits: Holland America Line.

The Alaskan experience

Alaska is heavenly for lovers of nature, with ethereal landscapes that mesmerise and bewitch, telling the story of how they were formed over thousands of years​​. Pristine fjords, turquoise waters fed by glacial flow, and rugged coastlines are complemented with myriad shore tours including just under 180 excursions, some by helicopter and seaplane, that take guests on a wildlife and wilderness encounter.

Between April and October, Holland America Line offers Alaskan cruise departures from Seattle, Washington, roundtrip from Vancouver, Canada, or in either direction between Vancouver and Whittier, Alaska. The company has more sailings to Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line, and deservingly, was voted number 1 in Alaska for wildlife and wilderness tours. That’s because with Holland America Line, you don’t just SEE Alaska; you live it and breathe it, learning about its history, its ecosystems, its wildlife and its Indigenous history. You’ll have a front row seat to breathtaking scenery, wildlife spotting, all while enjoying the premium lifestyle that Holland America Line delivers.

A bear and her cubs in the Denali National Park. Image credit: Holland America Line.

Marvel at Glacier Bay National Park​ and take in the equally impressive glaciers Holland America Line stops at.​ They include Hubbard Glacier, College Fjord, Twin Sawyer Glaciers of Tracy Arm and Dawed Glacier, as well as Juneau Ice Field and the wildly desolate and heartachingly beautiful Denali National Park. As for wildlife, you could see whales, orcas, otters, caribou, bears, seals, sea lions and eagles with an impressive array of tours from places like Sitka, Anchorage, Ketchikan and Skagway. 

Seals and their pup in Denali Nation Park and a whale breaching the surface of icy Alaskan waters. Image credits: Holland America Line.

Life on board

Life is good … amazingly good, on Holland America Line’s ships. From its array of dining options to world-class entertainment, you will never be bored. Depending on which ship you are on​, you can enjoy​ venues such as BB King’s Blues Club, Rolling Stone Lounge, the always popular Billboard Onboard, ​plus the Third Avenue West, a jazz trio performing in the Ocean Bar and the incredible BBC Earth Concert are all world class.

A couple admires the views whilst onboard and guests enjoy a multicourse dinner onboard in a sophisticated setting. Image credits: Holland America Line.

Dive further into Alaska with Holland America Line’s “Alaska Up Close” program, which immerses guests in the local cultures of the destinations visited through authentic workshops and lectures conducted by passionate experts who know Alaska, and its peoples.  

For instance, on every Alaska cruise, a Huna Native Interpreter in historical dress comes on board during the evening stay in Juneau to talk about the history of the Tlingit people with “Native Voices: Stories of the Tlingit People.” Guests will indulge in cocktails featuring real glacier ice, enjoy an Alaska-themed brunch, Gold Rush dinner, seafood boils, salmon bakes and themed stations in Lido Market. 

In 2022, Holland America Line became the first cruise line to achieve the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification, achieved by serving only fresh, certified sustainable and traceable wild Alaska seafood. On any Alaska cruise, the line serves more than 2,000 pounds of Alaska salmon, 1,000 pounds of Alaska cod, 800 pounds of Alaska halibut, 500 pounds of Alaska rockfish and more. All menus allow guests to ‘Taste Alaska’ by featuring region-specific dishes and fresh fish.

If reeling in your very own catch is up your alley, the ‘Savor My Catch’ program is offered on select fishing-focused shore excursions. Savour every bite on board, and allow Holland America Line’s expert chefs prepare and serve it in a true ocean-to-table experience.

Enjoy all of the luxuries on board in comfort. Image credit: Holland America Line.

Closer to home

It is not just Alaska that Holland America Line caters for so well, with a great range of itineraries elsewhere in North America, in Europe, in the waters off Australia and also in New Zealand. These local cruises are a hot ticket item for discerning guests who love the premium product that Holland America Line provides… with a very high rate of returning guests. That is understandable, as once you experience the service, the attention to detail across Holland America Line’s ships and the calibre of shore excursions, you will want to book another cruise, pronto.  

Alaska, and the world await.  

Clockwise from top left: Stunning Alaskan scenery, the McKinley Chalet and The Nieuw Amsterdam on route. Image credits: Holland America Line.

This article is brought to you by Holland America Line.

Book a cruise today and save with our Have It All Fare. Save 50% on our top selling add-ons which includes Shore Excursion Credit, Drinks Package, Specialty Dining and Wi-Fi. Terms & conditions apply.