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Empire Builder - Glacier National Park & Alaska Cruise

4.7 stars(6 reviews)

Experience all the beauty of the Pacific Northwest on this 15-day rail-cruise vacation.

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
15 days From $3,860 per person
Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary

2023 Tour code: WC-EGAW-23

About the tour

Your journey starts in Chicago where you will begin the 2,206-mile journey to Seattle aboard Amtrak's legendary Empire Builder. On the way, stop at breathtaking Glacier National Park, where you will have three days to take in the gorgeous landscape of this famous National Park. Continue the journey to Seattle, where you will set sail aboard the ms Westerdam to cruise along Alaska's Inside Passage, completing your incredible vacation.

This vacation can be booked online for departures from the following Amtrak stations: Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, and St. Paul/Minneapolis. For other departure cities, please select the Chicago location, and a rail specialist will contact you within 48 hours with a package customized with a departure from your most convenient Amtrak station.


What’s included


Day 1 - Arrive Chicago

Arrive in Chicago and check into your centrally-located hotel. Spend the day exploring Chicago on a hop-on/hop-off trolley tour, and see all the famous sites including the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, and the John Hancock Observatory. Tonight enjoy some local cuisine like a famous Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Overnight Chicago.

Day 2 - Depart Chicago aboard the Empire Builder

Arrive at Chicago's historic Union Station for your 2:15 pm departure aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder. As you begin your overnight journey to Glacier National Park, socialize with fellow travelers or take in the gorgeous scenery in the Sightseer Lounge. Overnight train. 

  • Dinner
Day 3 - Arrive in East Glacier Park, Montana

Today's rail journey takes you through the "Northern Prairie State" of North Dakota and into Montana. Arrive at Glacier National Park this evening. Your hotel for the next three nights is the Swiss Chalet-inspired Glacier Park Lodge. Overnight Glacier Park Lodge. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4 - Big Sky Circle Tour

Today embark on an inclusive tour of Glacier National Park that starts with a morning drive over Marias Pass, with wildlife viewing at Goat Lick and a stop at the historic Izaak Walton Inn. After an optional lunch at Lake McDonald Lodge, tour the grand cedar and hemlock forests that lie within the Lake McDonald Valley. Ascend to the high alpine region of the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Logan Pass and down into the St. Mary Valley, stopping at the Wild Goose Island overlook for another incredible photo opportunity. Your excursion concludes with grand vistas of grassland, prairie, and mountains as you arrive back at Glacier Park Lodge. Overnight Glacier Park Lodge.

Day 5 - Glacier National Park

You have a full day to explore Glacier Park Lodge, its grounds, and the Park itself. Perhaps take an Interpretive Tour of the grounds, visit the Native American Trading Post, or venture into the park for a leisurely hike. There is also a golf course, pool, and other amenities on site. Shuttle transfers to Two Medicine Lake and Many Glacier are also available. Overnight Glacier Park Lodge.

Day 6 - Depart Glacier National Park for Seattle by Train

Enjoy one last afternoon basking in the majesty of Glacier National Park. This evening board the Empire Builder for your departure to Seattle. Spend the night aboard the train talking to fellow passengers about all the incredible sights of Glacier National Park. Overnight train. 

Day 7 - Seattle

Arrive in Seattle mid-morning and check into your centrally-located hotel. The day is yours to explore the city at your leisure, with opportunities to visit landmarks such as the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and Chinatown on your Hop-On Hop-Off Tour. Overnight Seattle. 

  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Seattle and Alaska Cruise

The morning is at your leisure. At 4:00 pm, set sail aboard the ms Westerdam and begin your cruise adventure through Alaska's Inside Passage. Take time to explore the ship and its many amenities. Overnight ship.

  • Dinner
Day 9 - 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 10 - Juneau, Alaska

Today's port of call is Juneau, Alaska's capital city. It is home to the Juneau Icefield. This large ice mass encompasses more than 30 glaciers including the mighty Mendenhall Glacier. You may wish to visit the Icefields or 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 11 - 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 12 - 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. Overnight ship. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13 - 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. Include a visit to Creek Street, a wooden boardwalk featuring museums, galleries, restaurants, and favorite local shops.

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. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 14 - Victoria, British Columbia

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 15 - Welcome Back to the Emerald City

Your magical rail-cruise vacation comes to a close this morning as you dock in Seattle. Consider extending your stay in Seattle to fully explore the city, or transfer to the airport for your return flight home (transfer available for flights after 1:00 pm.

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Pricing Plans

Inside Stateroom
Hotels include the Palmer House Hilton, Glacier Park Lodge, and Sheraton. Amtrak accommodations include a Roomette, all meals on the train, and exclusive access to the Pacific Parlour Car. Upgrade to Bedroom sleeping accommodations is available for an additional fee. Travel aboard the ms Westerdam is in an Inside Stateroom including two lower beds that convert 1 Queen-size bed and a shower.

Oceanview Stateroom
Hotels include the Palmer House Hilton, Glacier Park Lodge, and Sheraton. Amtrak accommodations include a Roomette, all meals on the train, and exclusive access to the Pacific Parlour Car. Upgrade to Bedroom sleeping accommodations is available for an additional fee. Travel aboard the ms Westerdam is in an Oceanview Stateroom including two lower beds convertible to one Queen-size bed, bathtub, and shower.

Deluxe Verandah Outside
Hotels include the Palmer House Hilton, Glacier Park Lodge, and Sheraton. Amtrak accommodations include a Roomette, all meals on the train, and exclusive access to the Pacific Parlour Car. Upgrade to Bedroom sleeping accommodations is available for an additional fee. Travel aboard the ms Westerdam is in a Verandah Stateroom including two beds convertible to one Queen-size bed, whirlpool bath and shower, sitting area, private verandah, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Please Note

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

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. Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station. Port taxes of up to $285 are not included. All port taxes and fees are subject to change, and will be applied at the time of booking. Valid Passport and proper documentation is required for this trip. Holland America reserves the right to re-instate a fuel supplement for all guests at up to $9 per person, per day should the price of light sweet crude oil according to the NYMEX increase above $70 per barrel.

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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4.7 stars4.7 / 5 · 6 reviews

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

Robert E, Jacksonville, FL

4 stars

Submitted 07 Dec 2018

I was very satisfied with the service and support I received. My booking agent and the staff did a great job for me as they did with my cross-Canada rail adventure in 2016. I am looking forward to working with this team again to set up my rail trip in 2018.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

William & Barbara M, Indianapolis, IN

5 stars

Submitted 28 Oct 2018

It was exceptional. In fact the two other couples we referred and went with us were so appreciative of us recommending them to make arrangements through you to join us.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Stephanie C, Juno Beach, FL

5 stars

Submitted 22 Feb 2018

Everything was just fabulous and extremely organized every where we went

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Vickie C, Millsboro, DE

5 stars

Submitted 21 Feb 2018

Everything was great. We did not have one glitch through the entire trip. We talked with other people on the trip that have traveled with your company before and they were very happy also

Collected by Vacations By Rail

David K, Cincinnati, OH

5 stars

Submitted 22 Dec 2017

We enjoyed every minute of the trip and were so impressed by the planning Efi did to make such a wonderful complete package. She paid great attention to detail to all the requests we had for a nearly 3 week journey involving rail and ship travel with stays in multiple cities along the way. Fantastic job!

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Michael D, Coatesville, PA

4 stars

Submitted 09 Dec 2017

The attendants on and off the trains were very helpful. I needed extra help and they were right there for me. Walking I did find very difficult though between cars and for rest room. I was told ahead of time that train tracks were more smooth these days, I did not find that to be true. We were on Empire builder from Chic. to Seattle and back again. All over it was a fabulous trip! The scenery was Fantastic.....Our Grand U.S.A. We would like to take the other trains across the Country as well.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

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