14-day Yukon & Double Denali Alaska cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam – May 22 – June 5, 2022
This tour departed from Vancouver airport and returned to Vancouver harbour 14 days later. The first air/land leg from Vancouver to Yukon and Alaska involved flights and some bus travel. The last leg by sea involved returning to Vancouver on a classic Alaska cruise from Whittier, Alaska. The weather both on sea and land was perfect, except our last day cruising through the Inside Passage and our arrival in Vancouver, which were both cloudy and rainy.
If you just want to see photo albums, there are two collections:
- 2022 Yukon & Alaska – first week – 132 photos and videos – 15 minute slideshow
- 2022 Alaska Cruise – second week – 162 photos and videos – 20 minute slideshow
My full itinerary is listed below. Feel free to click on what interests you, however if you click on the top-most item, there are links at the bottom of each page (just above the Comments section) to take you to the next destination – from beginning to end. This is the best way to explore the whole trip as it happened.
- Victoria to Vancouver – flying from home to Vancouver airport and an overnight stay
- Vancouver to Yukon – Whitehorse, Dawson City
- Dawson City – 2 nights
- Dawson City to Fairbanks to Denali – flying to Fairbanks, bus to Denali National Park
- Denali National Park – 2 nights
- Denali to Anchorage – sightseeing train
- Anchorage – 2 nights
- Anchorage to Whittier – sightseeing train, boarding the ship
- Hubbard Glacier – first 2 glaciers
- Glacier Bay – 7 glaciers & Mt. Fairweather
- Skagway – White Pass & Yukon Railway
- Juneau – 5-glacier seaplane flight-seeing
- Ketchikan – totems
- Inside Passage – passage between Vancouver Island and the mainland
- Vancouver Arrival – disembarking the ship in Vancouver and flying home to Victoria
How it started and evolved
Taking an Alaska cruise has been on my travel list for many years, but it was a low priority since it is a short cruise and so close to where I live. The termination of my 2020 South America cruise while I was aboard the Zaandam due to the COVID-19 pandemic gave me a generous future cruise credit to work with, so I decided to book a Double Denali Alaska cruise with Holland America for September 2021.
Travel restrictions did not lift as expected by the summer of 2021, so I moved that booking to May/June 2022. By then, travel restrictions were lifted to the point where I could travel in reasonable comfort, and enjoy the sights and experiences along the way.
This land and sea tour turned out to be one of my more expensive trips due to the high cost of chartering flights, sightseeing trains, having a land Tour Director, the cruise fare itself, the high cost of meals on the land portion, flying to/from Vancouver, and the excursions I chose for the ports-of-call. Having the generous cruise credit from my ill-fated 2020 South America cruise helped offset my cash outlay for this trip, along with Holland America including credits when I booked for onboard gratuities, a drink package, and 2 premium dining nights. Bottom line cost: CA$933/day (for single)
- The added expense of having a verandah stateroom was worth it to comfortably view the glaciers and spectacular coastal scenery.
- The history of the Gold Rush was effectively connected by experiencing both Dawson City and Alaska.
So was it worth it?
This was another wonderful travel experience with Holland America Line. The cruise line continues to provide the personal touches for its passengers, despite the impacts the pandemic has had across the cruise ship industry. I was spoiled while aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. since there were only 700+ passengers aboard with 800+ crew – the ship normally carries about 2,100 passengers! The highlights of the trip for me have to be seeing the history of the Gold Rush for myself, and of course the mountains, glaciers and wildlife were spectacular! I also marvelled at how well Holland America managed our group’s baggage while we were taking aircraft, buses and trains during the land portion of the tour. The outstanding meals aboard the ship and making new friends is always something I look forward to when experiencing cruises.
Travelling during a pandemic
There are some risks involved in travelling while some restrictions and rules continue to be in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic still being present worldwide. Travellers must plan for delays and inconvenience caused by staffing shortages, closed venues and services, and the possibility that they will have to take care of themselves in a foreign country. Obtaining medical and travel insurance during a pandemic may be more expensive, and also may not cover risks that are important to you. In some cases, problems with insurance may be serious enough to result in calling off or postponing your travel.
On this trip, there were two risks I had to consider:
- Unplanned changes and challenges – if I had tested positive for COVID-19 before my flights or cruise embarkation, I would have had to quarantine for several days, and then probably fly home, missing my planned destinations and activities. This would have likely been at my own expense, although my insurance may have reimbursed me later.
- Changing rules and policies – both governments and travel companies are constantly adapting to the changing situation with pandemic conditions. Despite travellers making their best efforts to do their own research, plan ahead and provide for some contingencies, if a rule or policy changes while you are travelling that impacts you, there is little to be done about it except to react at the time, and try to reduce the harm to yourself and your plans as best you can.