Holland America Named “Top Pick” for Alaska Cruises

Holland America was once again named “Top Pick” for Alaska cruises in the 2020 AFAR Travelers’ Awards. The cruise line has received this award in the Alaska category three times in the last five years. Considering this category is only five years old, that’s a nice honor for Holland America.

Holland America Eurodam ship on Alaska Cruise at Hubbard Glacier
Holland America Eurodam as we approached Hubbard Glacier in Alaska.

Holland America Alaska Cruises win the 2020 AFAR award

The 2020 AFAR Travelers’ Awards are voted on by AFAR readers. All of the winners are featured in the January/February 2021 print edition of AFAR magazine.

“The readers of AFAR are some of the most discerning travelers in the world, and to be awarded best in Alaska is a tremendous honor that validates all of the expertise that goes into crafting the perfect Alaska experience for our guests,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “We provide an immersive Alaska cruise and overland tour, so guests leave us with memories they will never forget and a desire to return. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this win.”

Number One Cruise Line in Alaska

Holland America Line has nearly 75 years of Alaska expertise, on land and sea. The cruise line has established relationships with local communities and have hotels and vacation services at the entrance to Denali National Park. With this in place, it’s easy to enjoy the most unique and memorable Alaska and Yukon adventures offered by a cruise line.

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HAL Alaska cruises include more visits to Glacier Bay National Park than other cruise lines. I love their mid-size, less-crowded premium ships designed for Alaska cruising with wide, open decks and spacious viewing areas.

Entrance Sign to Glacier Bay Alaska
Entrance to Glacier Bay limits the number of cruise ships allowed each day. Holland America has preference.

Experience a taste of Alaska

Throughout a Holland America Alaska cruise, you’ll find regionally inspired cuisine, Alaska-themed entertainment and activities. There’s also a National Park Service ranger on board in Glacier Bay. The park ranger narrates points of interest and answers questions that range from the Bay’s environment to Jr. Ranger programs.

It’s not an Alaska cruise without an Alaska salmon dinner.

Also onboard Alaska cruises are enrichment lecturers. Native Tlingit speakers are also onboard to highlight their 10,000 history and culture.

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If you want more than just a seven-night cruise, there are several inland itineraries to choose from their Land+Sea Journeys.

I chose a visit to Iditarod champion Jeff King’s Husky Homestead mushing camp.

Before or after your cruise, add on one, two or three nights at Denali National Park. Try a full-day of wildlife viewing, a bus ride into the heart of Denali or visit a working dog sled homestead.

Holland America waiter serves Dutch split pea soup on deck in Alaska
Holland America waiter served Dutch split pea soup to keep up warm, as we cruised Glacier Bay.

The hotel complex located near the entrance to Denali National Park, features Denali Square. Like a small town mall, you’ll find  a variety of dining, local artists, ranger lectures, entertainment and more.

Follow the Klondike Gold Rush Trail

Venture further inland with Holland America Line’s Land+Sea Journeys to Canada’s Yukon Territory. Learn about the route of the Klondike Gold Rush all the way to Dawson City. Because Holland America owns and operates its hotel, train cars and motor coaches, your land and sea adventures are relatively seamless.

In the plans for 2022, six Holland America Line ships cruise to Alaska from from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Seattle, Washington. Cross-Gulf cruises will arrive at the town of Whittier, Alaska. From here, you begin your overland journey into the heart of the Last Frontier.

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  1. Hi Irina,
    Thank you for your question and I apologize for my delayed reply. I have written extensively about what to pack for an Alaska cruise: https://cruisemaven.com/what-to-pack-for-an-alaska-cruise-2019/ and hope you find this to be helpful. You’ve picked the nicest time of year for your Alaska cruise, although weather there is unpredictable. My packing list should be of help. If you’re planning to take a helicopter up to a glacier, it’s cold way up there, even if it’s in the 60s and sunny at sea level. Evenings can get chilly on deck, especially as you head up the Lynn Canal if your ship is going to Haines or Skagway. Have a wonderful cruise and thank you again for your question.

  2. Is there a packing list for Alaska cruises? We do not cruise a lot. We mostly travel by a car, visited many National parks, variety of cities, and resources, and with our car there are not many limits how much I can pack. I often do not use half of what I packed but always ready for changes in the weather and locations. I am not sure what outfits I may need to keep the suitcase the lightest for the Alaska cruise in June or July. Hope you can help

  3. Hi Joan,
    Thank you for reading my Alaska article and taking the time for your question. It’s not an easy answer and really depends on what you’d like to accomplish and what your expectations are for your cruise to Alaska. And you’ve given me a very good topic to write about Alaska.

    For first-timers, I would choose a medium sized ship (by today’s standards) or smaller, say less than 2,500 passengers. But a lot depends on your budget, too. I’ve been on 12 cruises to Alaska since 2018 and of those, all but three were Inside Passage, either from Seattle or Vancouver.

    Three were on smaller Holland America ships, two were on Royal Caribbean’s smaller ships (Radiance of the Seas), one was with Alaskan Dream Cruises with 80 passengers and the remaining were aboard the Alaska Ferry fleet. Traveling with children then I’d advise one of the larger newer ships with plenty of onboard activities with maybe Norwegian, Royal Caribbean or Carnival.

    Princess is right there with Holland America when it comes to taking a cruise tour into the heart of Alaska. Holland America will be celebrating their 150th anniversary and offering some really good rates and add-ons for next year.

    Traveling without children and money is no object, I’d opt for Seabourn, Cunard, or any of the luxury brands.

    Also, the amount of time spent in port is important too. So it’s a good idea to compare itineraries as well.

    There are many variables to consider. First, though, IMO, is the itinerary then the size of the ship that you might prefer. I hope this is a little helpful. I will do that article and try to cover as much detail as possible.

    Thank you again for your really good question.

  4. How do you choose??!! There are so many ships. For first timers traveling to Alaska, it’s just overwhelming…

  5. Hi Amy,
    Thank you for taking the time to read the article. Seeing the Northern Lights is really an unexpected gift and doesn’t happen every night. The chances increase in mid- August to September, towards the end of the cruise season. We were so lucky to see the lights in SE Alaska on the Inside Passage not far from Juneau in mid-August. Be sure to inform the front desk if you’d like a middle of the night wake-up call should the Northern Lights be visible. A late season cross-gulf cruise may increase your chances to see the lights because you’ll be further north. But even from the SE, if it’s a clear night and you are away from port, they are visible. Have a fabulous time! And thanks again for reading the article.

  6. Thanks for article. My husband and I are planning an Alaskan cruise and will check out Holland America.
    Which port/city allows us to see the Northern Lights?

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