The combination of Canada and Alaska offers many cruising and touring options.
But let me start a little before that and tell you that tourism is good here - I am confident that travellers will find professionalism, good organisation, a warm welcome and good value. From train to coach touring and Inside Passage cruises, this is polished travel that runs on rails.
Here is just a dip into some of the options, as examples ...
Scenic Tours is experienced in combined Canada and Alaska touring and has a 21-day tour from Victoria to Vancouver in 2013-2014, which visits Whistler, Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise and Sun Peaks, with the Rocky Mountaineer rail experience and seven-night Alaskan cruise. A benchmark itinerary and from $10,845 each.
The 22-day Magnificent Canadian Rockies and Alaskan Cruise tour from Victoria to Seattle for 2013-2014 includes a 14-day land tour with two nights each in Banff, Lake Louise and Whistler, combined with a seven-night Alaskan cruise. As a guide, it is from around $11,145 each.
Travel agents and scenictours.com.au.
A GRAND EXPERIENCE
Insight Vacations' Grand Canadian Rockies and Alaska Cruise is a 20-day tour and cruise package from $8182. Glaciers and green forests are visited, giving a varied experience of the grandeur of the Canadian west and Alaska.
The tour has two-night stays in Victoria, Banff and Jasper. Then, after a rail journey from the Rockies to the Pacific, there's an Inside Passage cruise.
Hotels are top quality, from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel to lakeside locations at the Emerald Lake Lodge and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. In Whistler it's the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, the Hotel Grand Pacific overlooking Victoria's Inner Harbour and in Vancouver, the Fairmont Pacific Rim.
Travel agents and insightvacations.com.
Tauck's Grand Canadian Rockies tour, which is from $4990 for 10 days is action-packed in western Canada. There is a rail journey from Vancouver into the Canadian Rockies, a floatplane excursion over the Gulf Islands, a cruise to Victoria, an Ice Explorer ride across a glacier and rafting on the Bow River.
It includes Vancouver and Victoria, the Icefields Parkway, and visits the Butchart Gardens and the Royal British Columbia Museum. There's afternoon tea at The Fairmont Empress and visits to Banff and Jasper national parks.
In Alaska, Tauck can combine sightseeing by land, ship, floatplane, paddlewheel boat and vintage railway. This is the realm of bald eagles, grizzly bears, orcas, alpine peaks, and glacier-carved fjords. Visitors might walk through old towns, pan for gold, and meet totem pole carvers.
Travel agents, tauck.com.au and 1800 122 048.
SEE THE GLACIERS IN COMFORT
APT Touring mixes wildlife and glaciers with comforts - by combining cruising with classic rail journeys through the Canadian Rockies.
From Alaska's Inside Passage and Glacier Bay to natural and cultural wonders on an APT tour, the itineraries will generally include Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise.
APT Touring has a Canada & Alaska 2013 brochure which can be viewed online or is available from travel agents.
Travel agents and aptouring.com.au.
CRUISE AND TOUR
Globus has many cruise-and-tour options for western Canada and Alaska. There are seven 19-day options and three of 20 days - in addition to tours across Canada, coast to coast, and in eastern Canada.
The 19-day Spirit of the Rockies visits Vancouver, Kamloops, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Sun Peaks, Whistler, Victoria, and a seven-night Alaskan cruise. Prices start from $5965 each.
It includes most meals and follows a classic format:
Begin in Vancouver visiting Chinatown and the Stanley Park totems. Board the Rocky Mountaineer train and head to Kamloops, east to Shuswap Lake and over the Continental Divide to Banff National Park. Spend two nights in Banff at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. En route to Lake Louise, enjoy a side trip to one of the crown jewels of the Canadian Rockies - Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. View Peyto Lake and Athabasca Falls, and ride an Ice Explorer on the Athabasca Glacier. Visit the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre before ferrying across to Victoria and the Butchart Gardens. Spend the night in Victoria, and tour the city with a guided sightseeing tour. Continue your journey aboard your seven-night Alaskan cruise.
Travel agents and globus.com.au.
BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE
Evergreen Tours' 16-day Rockies Explorer & Alaska Inside Passage Cruise is a good example of what this company offers. Vancouver, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, seven days cruising the Inside Passage and Victoria. Journey through the Rockies visiting iconic towns and national parks with great wildlife spotting opportunities.
Then board the Via Rail train in your private sleeper class cabin for an overnight ride through spectacular scenery to Vancouver. Finish in the harbour town of Victoria before boarding your cruise to the Inside Passage.
Prices vary but with their 2013 "earlybears", travellers buy one airfare and get one free (including taxes) when they pay a deposit by October 15 for most Evergreen Tours holidays of 14 days or more for two people. Pay the deposit by October 15 for 11 to 13-day tours of Canada and Alaska and save $500 per person.
Travel agents and evergreentours.com.
A TRIP ON THE WILD SIDE
Stepping out on the more adventurous side, Peregrine Adventures has a 21-day trip from $4159 each, twin share, to Alaska, Yukon and the Arctic Circle.
Travellers will experience the wilderness on a remote and extreme adventure, from wildlife to diverse scenery ranging from tundra to snow-capped mountains, blue lakes and glaciers. Denali National Park includes Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America.
Dawson City and the Yukon conjure up reminders of trailblazing pioneers. In Inuvik, Canada's northern-most town, there is insight into the lifestyle of the Inuit people. 9321 1259 and peregrineadventures.com
TAKE A HELI-HIKE
World Expeditions has new Canada and Alaska trips in its 2012-2013 South America, Central America and North America brochure.
It combines interesting travel, trekking and the scenery of two mountain ranges in the Canadian Rockies on its seven-day Bugaboos Heli-hiking Adventure. Departing from Banff, travellers fly to the Bobbie Burns Lodge, which will be their base for three nights. Each day they will reach remote parts of the Bobbie Burns Range by helicopter to hike in the wilderness.
Travellers will also spend three nights at Bugaboos Lodge in British Columbia. The trip ends with ground transfers back to Calgary. The Bugaboos Heli-hiking Adventure includes transfers, most meals, accommodation, hiking equipment, 10-12 helicopter flights, five days daily guided heli-hikes and presentations by adventurers and guides.
The package requires a moderate level of fitness and costs from $4890 with departures until August 29. Packages are scheduled for July and August 2013.
worldexpeditions.com.au and 1300 720 000
AT YOUR LEISURE
Kings Tours base their relaxed-pace Canada and Alaska tour on six two-night stays - two in Vancouver (with dinner at the top of Grouse Mountain) two in Banff, travelling on the Rocky Mountaineer, two at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louse, two in Jasper and two at Whistler, finishing on Vancounver Island. It includes a seven-night Alaska cruise on Holland America's ms Westerdam. The full Canada and Alaska package is from $12,755 for the first traveller, $9290 for the second.
kingstours.com.au and 9380 6656
There are myriad cruising options and it's good to consult travel agents about these. But, as an example, Princess Cruises' seven-day cruise options are fully escorted programs that include a tour director and most meals.
The Voyage of the Glaciers Cruise crosses between Vancouver and Whittier through pristine Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Alaska and Inside Passage.
Enjoy glacier-viewing opportunities at Glacier Bay National Park and either College Fjord or Hubbard Glacier. Visit the frontier ports of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway.
Inside Passage Alaska Cruise Vacations are seven or 10-day roundtrip cruises from Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver. Travellers will see massive glaciers and visit ports such as Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. The seven-day Inside Passage September 2013 is from around $1459 for a balcony cabin.
Travel agents, 1300 551 853 and princess.com.
CHANCE TO SAVE
Until August 31, Jetset Travel's Whistler Pan Pacific Mountainside package which includes seven nights in a studio unit and a six-day ski lift pass costs $1135 per person for travel between November 22 and April 30. 1300 538 738.
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