Take a six-night rail tour from Calgary to Vancouver, including a trip on Canada’s famous Rocky Mountaineer train, followed by a seven-night cruise aboard ms Noordam to the fjords, glaciers and little towns of Alaska.
Add a two-night hotel stay in Vancouver and stays in Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise.
That’s the formula for a new 13-night fly-cruise-and-tour holiday from Worldwide Cruise Centres (worldwidecruisecentres.com.au) called ‘Western Explorer to Alaska Sun’.
The holiday costs from A$6949 per person twin-share, including airfares from Australia. There’s a bonus US$50 in free onboard credit, per cabin on the ms Noordam cruise.
‘Western Explorer to Alaska Sun’ departs Australia on 25 April 2016 – that’s next Anzac Day – with a flight from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne to Calgary, Canada’s sunniest major city.
From there, transfer to spectacular Banff for a night, staying at the Banff Caribou Lodge or similar. Canada’s great outdoors unfolds over following days. A half-day tour of Yoho National Park takes in the Spiral Tunnels (an engineering marvel), Emerald Lake and a natural rock bridge spanning the Kicking Horse River. The tour ends at Lake Louise, where you’ll overnight at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, one of Canada’s most renowned properties, located in the Heart of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Next day’s tour, from Lake Louise to Jasper, is truly spectacular. You’ll travel by coach along the Icefields Parkway, one of North America’s most scenic highways. See enormous Columbia Icefield and ride the Ice Explorer on the Athabasca Glacier. The terrain around the Athabasca Falls is notable for sightings of bear, elk, moose and mountain sheep.
Then all aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train for a scenic rail journey from Banff to Vancouver, with an overnight stop in Kamloops in the interior of British Columbia. Travel is in SilverLeaf Service, with two breakfasts and two lunches served aboard.
After a night’s stay in Kamloops, founded as trading outpost, the rail journey continues past the rushing waters of Hell’s Gate in Fraser Canyon, alongside the mighty Thompson River, the route of early fur traders.
A two-night stay in Vancouver gives time to explore this elegant and sophisticated city. Maybe check out Chinatown, Gastown, Stanley Park and Granville Market. Entry to Vancouver Lookout is included.
Board Holland America Line’s ms Noordam now and sail north along Canada’s west coast.
Your destination: Alaska’s Inside Passage, with its pristine water, mountains, fjords and forested islands. In Tracy Arm Fjord (a narrow, 42-kilometre-long sea inlet), arctic terns soar overhead, black and brown bears, mountain goats and wolves roam. A panorama of waterfalls, sheer cliffs and rainforest stretches before you.
Visit the historic town of Juneau (garbage bins here are made of heavy-gauge steel with special latches to discourage bears), the Klondike gold-rush settlement of Skagway, Ketchikan with its weathered wooden stairways and totem poles and phenomenal Glacier Bay, a photographer’s dream where 16 glaciers plunge into glittering fjords.
In between these wonders, enjoy ms Noordam, known for its fine art collection, photography and valuable pieces of antique furniture. The Vista Dining Room features an extensive wine list and impeccable service. All shipboard main meals (excluding specialty restaurants) are included in the price. Maybe sample the Greenhouse Spa and Salon and catch entertainment in the Vista Show Lounge.
ms Noordam’s final port of call is Vancouver, from where you’ll jet back home to Australia after a grand holiday.