Experience a Rail-cruise vacation featuring the Empire Builder to Seattle plus an Alaska cruise through the Inside Passage featuring Hubbard Glacier.
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.
- Rail travel on Amtrak, including private sleeping accommodations
- Hotel accommodations for 1 night
- 7-day Holland America Line Alaska cruise
- All meals onboard the train and ship
- Ports of call:
- Hubbard Glacier
- Victoria (BC)
- Select transfers
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. (D)
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. (B, L, D)
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. (B)
Day 4 - Alaska Cruise Departure
This afternoon board your included transfer to the pier and prepare to board Holland America's ms Oosterdam 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. (D)
Day 5 - ms Oosterdam 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. (B, L, D)
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. (B, L, D)
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.
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 Tlingt 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. (B, L, D)
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 Tlingt 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. (B, L, D)
Day 10 - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
The ms Oosterdam 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. (B, L, D)
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. (B)
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.
Holland America's ms Oosterdam
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.
Hotel accommodations are at the Westin Seattle based on availability; substitutes will be of similar quality and amenities.
Know before you go
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.
+ Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station to train info
It is your responsibility to check and fulfill the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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