Day 1: Chicago En Route
All tour members will meet the tour director in Chicago’s Union Station. The Metropolitan Lounge will be your base in Chicago. The Sears Tower, one of the world’s tallest buildings is close by. Other Chicago attractions are a short cab ride away. Early this afternoon you will board Amtrak’s Empire Builder for the 2200-mile journey across seven states to Seattle, Washington. Relax in your private Roomette bedroom or upgraded Bedroom sleeping accommodations. Go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge car for spectacular viewing. All dining car meals are included. You’ll have time for a walk when you arrive in Minneapolis-St. Paul this evening. (D)
Day 2: En Route
During the day you will roll across the remote lands of North Dakota and eastern Montana. About 5:00 p.m., a dramatic panorama of Rocky Mountain peaks will begin to rise above the horizon, becoming increasingly dynamic as you approach Glacier National Park. The scenery is striking as you wind past waterfalls, river gorges and other sights. The glass-walled lounge or dining car is an excellent vantage point. (B, L, D)
Day 3: En Route - Seattle
You may want to rise early to watch the sun come up over some spectacular scenery. At approximately 7:00 a.m. the Empire Builder will enter the 7.8-mile long Cascade Tunnel. Over the next several hours we’ll wind through the scenic Cascade Mountains and then through the lush Puget Sound area and ease into Seattle by mid-morning.
The rest of the day is yours to enjoy Seattle on your own. Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and Pioneer Square are steps from your doorway. Explore the thriving music and theatre scene, vibrant galleries, and one-of-a kind museums or relax with some of the best coffee in the country at one of the hundreds of cafés' and coffee shops!
Day 4: Seattle & Vancouver
You’ll embark on a sightseeing tour of Seattle including a trip to the top of the Space Needle. The journey will include Chinatown, concrete floating bridges, Lake Washington, the arboretum, the University of Washington and views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
Following the tour you’ll head to Vancouver by deluxe motor coach. Your overnight accommodations are at the centrally located the Hampton Inn Downtown. The dining options are numerous. (B)
Day 5: Embarkation
This morning you’ll embark on a three-and-a-half hour sightseeing tour of the city. The tour will include Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, English Bay, Marine Drive, the waterfront and Queen Elizabeth Park.
Your tour will end at the cruise terminal where we’ll board the beautiful Norwegian Sun. This ship is a jewel on the high seas - filled with innovative features and luxurious amenities. Swim in one of the sparkling pools, shop the Galleria boutique or get a massage in the Body Waves Spa & Salon. Dine in one of the dining rooms or specialty restaurants. Following a luncheon buffet, you can relax or explore your beautiful home for the next eight days. Departure is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (CB, L, D)
Day 6: Inside Passage
Today you’ll cruise the Inside Passage, a world-renowned scenic destination. Protected on the east by towering, snow-capped peaks of the Coast Mountain Range and by fir tree-covered islands on the west, it is a natural marine highway. In addition to the breathtaking scenery, you’re likely to see wildlife such as whales, porpoises, sea lions, majestic bald eagles, and herons. Tonight you’ll enjoy a great evening of dining and entertainment aboard the Norwegian Sun. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Ketchikan
Boasting the world's largest collection of Northwest totems and often regarded as the salmon capital of the world, Ketchikan is the ancestral home of the Tlingit people. Take a stroll on the old boardwalk along Ketchikan Creek in search of shops and cafes.
- Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer
- Totem Bight & Ketchikan City
- Ketchikan Cultural Discovery
- Saxman Village & Lumberjack Show
- Lighthouse, Totems & Eagles Excursion
- Ketchikan By Horse-drawn Trolley
- The Bering Sea - Crab Fisherman's Tour
Tonight you’ll enjoy another great evening of dining and entertainment. (D)
Day 8: Juneau/Endicotte Arm
Named after Joseph Juneau who discovered gold in the 1880s at the mouth of Gold Creek, Alaska’s capital city gracefully balances a frontier ruggedness with a cosmopolitan flair. Mendenhall Glacier, a river of ice measuring 1.5 miles wide and over six miles long, hugs Juneau’s north side and is part of the Juneau Icefield.
Here is a sample of the many optional shore excursions available today:
- Juneau & Mendenhall Glacier
- Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest
- Gold Panning & Salmon Bake
- Juneau Sportsfishing
- Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer
- Mt. Roberts Tramway
- Sled Dog Discovery & Musher's Camp
Tonight you’ll enjoy another great evening aboard the Norwegian Sun. (B, L, D)
Day 9: Cruising
Ahh, now this is relaxation. Do as little or as much as you care to. Pamper yourself with a massage at the Body Waves Spa & Salon. Shop in the extensive Galleria Shops for duty-free liquor, designer clothing and gifts. Head to the internet cafe’ or library. Tee up at the driving range. There is a jogging track and fitness center for those looking to work off some of the fantastic cuisine. Catch up on your favorite team at the Sports Bar. Grab a latte at the Java Café. Try your luck at the Monte Carlo Casino featuring a variety of table games, slots (including nickle slots for the not-so-high roller), video poker, etc. The Observation Lounge on deck 12 is a sunny viewing space during the day and hopping dance spot at night. Other daily activities include bingo, craft-making, art auctions, pool games, trivia contests, wine and coctail tasting; and that traditional cruise favorite, shuffleboard! Of course you can always just cuddle up with a good book as the Pacific Ocean drifts by.
The evening entertainment is stellar. Don’t miss the colorful production shows and Broadway-style reviews with the venerable Jean Ann Ryan dance company and a myriad of other performers (magicians, comedians, and a Cirque du Soleil-like troupe of acrobats). (B, L, D)
Day 10 & 11: Cruising
(B, L, D)
Day 12: San Francisco
Your ship will arrive at Pier 35 on the city's bustling downtown waterfront. You’ll strike out on an extensive tour including Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Jackson Square, Telegraph Hill, the Presidio and Fisherman’s Wharf. Your hotel for the next two nights is the exquisite Handlery Hotel. The Handlery is located on Union Square, the city's center for shopping and theater. You will have a chance to discover many of the country’s finest department stores as well as the opportunity to explore numerous outstanding dining options. Your Tour Director will suggest some moderately-priced dining options as well. (B)
Day 13: San Francisco
WOW! A full day to explore this world-class city. The following are a few of the optional activities that depart from your hotel:
- Muir Woods and Sausalito
- Napa Valley Wine Train
- Yosemite National Park
- Monterey, Carmel & 17-Mile Drive
- Wine Country Tour
- Cable Car Tour
Day 14: San Francisco/En Route
This morning you’ll transfer to Emeryville and board Amtrak’s California Zephyr for Chicago. You’ll again enjoy private-room sleeping accommodations, dining car meals and other amenities experienced on your westbound train. As you travel eastward you leave the lush green landscape and palm trees of California and enter the rugged terrain, dotted with pine trees, of the high Sierra Nevada Mountains. You will pass through the famous Donner Pass this afternoon. (L, D)
Day 15: En Route
Make sure you take the opportunity to view the spectacular scenery from the Sightseer Lounge car as you make your way toward Denver. When you leave Glenwood Springs, you will begin to climb through the awesome Rockies toward the Continental Divide. You’ll encounter the famous, five-mile long Moffat Tunnel and, literally, go under the Continental Divide. Spectacular views of mountain vistas will continue throughout the afternoon. (B, L, D)
Day 16: En Route/Chicago
The California Zephyr will roll across Iowa and Illinois and arrive in Chicago at mid afternoon. Many of the tour members will conclude their fabulous America by Rail vacation by transferring to other Amtrak trains bound for home cities. (B, L)