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Empire Builder with Alaska Cruise

4.3 stars(3 reviews)

Experience a Rail-cruise vacation featuring the Empire Builder to Seattle plus an Alaska cruise through the Inside Passage featuring Hubbard Glacier.

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11 days From $2,298 per person
Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary
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2023 Tour code: TU-EBAW-23

About the tour

The Empire Builder travels the legendary 2,206-mile route from Chicago, across the northern United States west to Seattle, the Gateway to Alaska. But this picturesque rail journey is only the start of this unforgettable 11-day vacation. Upon arrival in Seattle, transfer on your own to your hotel and enjoy the highlights of Seattle. Then board your Holland America cruise ship bound for Alaska where you will be awed by the state's scenic Inside Passage.


What’s included


Day 1 - Depart Chicago aboard the Empire Builder

Arrive at Chicago's historic Union Station for your 2:15 pm departure aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder. Settle in for the 2,206-mile journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country. As you travel northwest to Winona, Minnesota, meet volunteer park rangers occasionally from the Chicago/Mississippi National River and Recreation Area who will share stories and artifacts from the region as part of the Trails & Rails program. This evening, enjoy a hot meal in the Dining Car and settle in for your first evening aboard the train as you travel through the Wisconsin Dells and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Overnight train. 

  • Dinner
Day 2 - Empire Builder En Route to Seattle

As you awake this morning, the train makes its way through North Dakota and into Montana's Big Sky Country. As you enjoy a delicious breakfast in the Dining Car, review the route map and take note of today's scenic highlights. Don't miss the spectacular Gassman Coulee Trestle west of Minot in the morning. Keep your camera handy today as you'll be passing through unspoiled natural beauty ripe with wildlife including bison, elk, prairie dogs, foxes, muskrats, white-tailed deer, and bald eagles. As the train continues to move westward, the landscape gives way to rolling hills, canyons, gorges, and rugged mountain terrain. The Sightseer Lounge, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, is the best place to enjoy the passing scenery, especially as the train rolls through Glacier National Park this evening. Overnight train. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 - Arrival in Seattle, Gateway to Alaska

You know you are nearing the end of your rail journey when you glimpse the peaks of Mount Rainier in the distance. With a mid morning arrival in Seattle, you have the better part of the day to explore the city at your leisure. Don't miss the city's main attractions including the imposing Space Needle, the Experience Music Project, Pike Place Market, and historic Pioneer Square. Overnight Seattle.

  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Alaska Cruise Departure

This afternoon board your included transfer to the pier and prepare to board Holland America's ms Westerdam for the second half of this memorable vacation. Your ship sets sail at 4:00 pm, giving you plenty of time to settle into your cabin before heading on deck to wave good-bye to magnificent Seattle. With the next day at sea, there is ample time to explore the ship and all its amenities and activities. Overnight ship. 

  • Dinner
Day 5 - ms Westerdam at Sea

Today indulge in some of the ship's finer amenities. Treat yourself to a hot stone massage at the spa, spend time at the Culinary Arts Center-presented by Food & Wine Magazine-or play a game of chance at the casino. Enjoy a gourmet meal and dancing this evening. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - Juneau, Alaska

Alaska's capital city of Juneau is located on the Gastineau Channel in Alaska's panhandle and is home to the Juneau Icefield. Sitting atop steep mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass encompassing more than 30 glaciers including the mighty Mendenhall Glacier. In addition to the Juneau Icefield, consider a visit to the lush Tongass National Forest, browse the rustic local shops, or climb aboard the Mt. Roberts Tramway for beautiful views and a great spot to hike. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7 - Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier is up to 213 feet wide at its face and 164 feet tall, but that's only the tiniest piece of the ice: The main channel of this frozen river begins 76 miles back, pouring down from around the 11,100-foot mark off the shoulder of Mt. Walsh.

Hubbard is the longest tidewater glacier (meaning it ends at the ocean) in North America. But unlike nearly every other tidewater glacier on the continent, Hubbard is advancing, not retreating; it's forever pushing a little further into the bay. Chunks of ice that break off become floaties for seals, who like the bergs because orca sonar doesn't work well among them.

The deep blue of the face of the glacier on a sunny day-the color made by compression of ice crystals that can be a foot or more long-is the blue of the furthest stars. The glacier is on the move. Overnight ship. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 - Sitka, Alaska

Situated on the west side of Baranof Island in the Alexander Archipelago, Sitka is flanked by majestic mountains and the glistening Pacific Ocean. The town's history as a Russian settlement can be seen in its early architecture, like the onion domes of St. Michael's Cathedral, a National Historical Landmark since 1962. Spend the day uncovering the town's storied history. Enjoy a performance by the New Archangel Dancers, meet Tlingit natives, and stand on the spot where the United States took possession of Alaska in 1867 for $7.2 million-less than two cents per acre. Visit the Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska's oldest federally designated park. Hike the scenic coastal trails within the park and discover a collection of cedar totem poles donated by Native leaders in southeast Alaska. Or, shop in the downtown district and pop into the Sheldon Jackson Museum, Alaska's oldest museum with collections that represent the state's rich history and diverse cultures. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9 - Ketchikan, Alaska

Known as the "Salmon Capital of the World" and home to the world's largest collection of totem poles, Ketchikan is the southernmost city in Alaska and today's port of call. Appreciate the town's sights and attractions with a self-guided walking tour. A highlight of your route can include Creek Street, a wooden boardwalk featuring museums, galleries, restaurants, and popular local shops. The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center provides insight into the profound significance of the Tongass National Forest. Or visit the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center to get a firsthand look at the state's salmon hatchery program and see rescue birds and its rehabilitation program. The Totem Heritage Center showcases a collection of 19th century totem poles, and the Saxman Native Village and Totem Bight State Park respectively offer a glimpse into native Tlingit traditions.

A must-see attraction in Ketchikan is Misty Fjords National Monument, a protected area of more than 2,294,000 acres of Tongass National Forest in Alaska's panhandle. These deep water fjords left by retreating glaciers created granite cliffs towering thousands of feet above the sea and countless waterfalls tumbling into tranquil waters. Try a flightseeing trip to get an up close and personal perspective on this breathtaking sight and gain a unique vantage point from which to snap priceless souvenir photos. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

The ms Westerdam sails into Victoria, British Columbia today. The city's British heritage is evident from the double-decker buses and horse-drawn carriages to the tea rooms and vibrant gardens. Victoria has earned the reputation as the "City of Gardens," and no trip to this beautiful city is complete without a visit to the 55-acre Butchart Gardens with its year-round brilliantly-colored blooms. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11 - Welcome Back to the Emerald City

Your magical Alaska cruise comes to a close this morning as you dock in Seattle. Consider extending your stay in Seattle to fully explore the city, or your transfers are included for your return flight after 1:00 pm.

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Hotel Accommodations

Hotels are centrally located, 3.5 to 4-star properties, selected based on quality and availability.

Pricing Plans

Amtrak accommodations are available in Coach class, Roomette, and Bedroom.

Coach accommodations include a reclining seat with leg rest.

Roomette accommodations include a private cabin featuring two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, converting to an upper and lower berth at night.

Bedroom accommodations feature a sofa and chair by day and upper and lower berth by night. Bedroom accommodations also include a sink and self-enclosed toilet and shower. All travelers have access to the Sightseer Lounge.

Roomette and Bedroom accommodations include all meals aboard the train.

Accommodations aboard Holland America's ms Westerdam are available in Inside Stateroom, Oceanview Stateroom, and Deluxe Verandah Outside categories.

Inside Stateroom features two lower beds convertible to one Queen-size bed and shower.

Oceanview Stateroom features two lower beds convertible to one Queen-size bed, bathtub, and shower.

Verandah Stateroom features two beds convertible to one Queen-size bed, whirlpool bath and shower, sitting area, private verandah, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Please note

Port taxes and fees are per person (double occupancy) and not included in the above fares. Taxes will be calculated into the price at time of booking. A valid Passport and proper documentation is required for this trip. Please be advised that passengers traveling on Empire Builder Trains may encounter delays of approximately three to six hours due to heavy congestion, speed restrictions and other operating conditions.

Please be aware Amtrak may experience occasional schedule changes and service disruptions.  Vacations By Rail recommends visiting the Amtrak web site prior to your departure for the latest information.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


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4.3 stars4.3 / 5 · 3 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Robert H, Romeo, MI

4 stars

Submitted 25 Dec 2018

Everything just fell into place. We had a great time!

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Orla de C, Dublin, IE

4 stars

Submitted 18 Dec 2017

The staff at Vacations By Rail are marvelous, going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that everything is ok. Unfortunately the Empire Builder was cancelled so that was disappointing but the hotel and cruise were superb! We will have to come back in the future to do the Train trip.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Michele B, Redford, MI

5 stars

Submitted 18 Feb 2017

The trip was very relaxing with great service.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

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