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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.

You are viewing the 2021 itinerary. Select your departure year
11 days From $2,475 per person

2021 Tour code: TU-EBAW-21

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.

Effective Saturday, August 14, 2021, Holland America Line will require ALL travelers to provide proof of vaccination administered at least 14-days prior to embarkation as well as a negative viral COVID-19 test (medically supervised PCR or antigen test) taken within 72 hours of embarkation on all Holland America Line sailings.

Travelers will be asked to provide proof of vaccination and negative test results upon arrival in the terminal and can then proceed on board.

Please note that testing in the terminal will not be available for vaccinated guests, so it's critical that you have your negative, medically observed test results with you upon your arrival.


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

Transfer to the pier this afternoon and board Holland America's ms Nieuw Amsterdam for the second half of this memorable vacation. Your ship sets sail at 4:00 p.m., gliding through the placid waters of Puget Sound and through the San Juan Islands. Overnight ship. 

  • Dinner
Day 5 - ms Nieuw Amsterdam at Sea

Today indulge in some of the ship's finer amenities. Pamper yourself at the spa, enjoy a cooking demonstration, or play a game of chance at the casino. Enjoy a gourmet meal and dancing this evening. Overnight ship. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - Cruise Stephen’s Passage/Juneau

The ms Nieuw Amsterdam cruises through Stephen's Passage today, putting Alaska's stunning scenery on full display. Stand in awe of mighty mountains and purple-hued glaciers, and get an up-close look at some of Alaska's mighty wildlife.

The ship arrives in Alaska's capital city, Juneau, this afternoon. Located on the Gastineau Channel in Alaska's panhandle, it 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 - Glacier Bay Scenic Cruising/Icy Strait Point

Get ready for some of the world's most dramatic scenery as the ship cruises through Glacier Bay's glacier-fed waters. Snow-capped mountains, temperate rainforests, and untamed beaches are the backdrop for this breathtaking experience. Listen for calving glaciers and keep your eyes peeled for pods of whales or bears fishing along the shoreline. National Park Service Rangers and local Huna Tlingit cultural representatives offer onboard commentary and provide invaluable insight into the incredible ecosystem that surrounds you as well as the native culture.

This evening we make our way across Glacier Bay to the historical town of Icy Strait Point. Once home to a booming cannery business, today it offers visitors the chance to take a step back in time. Old wooden buildings house museum and cannery demonstration, and the town's location makes it a good location for adventurous excursions, including a marine mammal safari or ziplining. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 - Sitka

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

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 - At Sea

Spend your last day on the ship at leisure, soaking in the scenery and enjoying an assortment of onboard activities. Lounge on the deck for one last day of tranquil water views and dine on delicious meals. 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 Oosterdam 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 $282 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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