Grand Alaska    *alt*

15 days, from £4840
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Experience a land of bald eagles, totem poles, calving glaciers, and majestic wildlife by land, sea, and air on Tauck's grandest of Alaska tours. Cruise the Alaska coast, Glacier Bay, and the Inside Passage aboard a Princess ship. Tour Anchorage, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan... visit Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias national parks... take a flightseeing tour over glaciers, a scenic rail journey, a jet boat cruise in the wild and a rafting trip in a bald eagle preserve. Cruise Prince William Sound. Meet an Iditarod champion musher and his Husky sled dogs; visit a homesteader at her wilderness farm; and embark on a private whale-watching cruise!


 Day 1 Your Alaska adventure begins in Anchorage

Tour starts at 6:30 PM at Hotel Captain Cook. A transfer is included from Anchorage International Airport to the Hotel Captain Cook, overlooking Cook Inlet, downtown Anchorage, and the Chugach Mountains. Join us for a welcome reception and dinner tonight.

 Day 2 Alaskan traditions & a flight to the wilderness

Learn about the lifestyles, traditions, and crafts of Alaska's indigenous tribes on a visit to the Anchorage Museum; hundreds of artefacts and two multimedia installations share the enduring cultures and histories of peoples from across the circumpolar North. Then take a scenic flight to Talkeetna, near the base of Mount McKinley (North America's highest peak, known to the locals as Denali), followed by a drive to your wilderness lodge in Trapper Creek for a two-night stay.

 Day 3 A wilderness homestead & a jet boat adventure

Begin the day with a visit to the private homestead of Joanne Porterfield, nestled in the Alaska wilderness; her family's gardens and farm have flourished here in the shadow of Mount McKinley for more than four decades. Set off on a wilderness jet boat adventure this afternoon. Return to your lodge in the late afternoon to enjoy dinner and an evening at leisure.

 Day 4 To Denali & the dogs of Husky Homestead

Drive today to Denali National Park, one of the world's last unspoiled frontiers; arrive at your lodge near the entrance to the park, Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, in time for lunch. This afternoon, visit Husky Homestead to meet former Iditarod champion musher Jeff King and his family... and of course their indomitable Husky sled dogs who live and train there. Enjoy dinner at your choice of restaurants at your lodge tonight.

 Day 5 Exploring Denali National Park

A highlight of any Alaska travel experience is a visit to Denali National Park, a six-million-acre UNESCO Biosphere Reserve highlighted by North America's highest mountain - 20,320-foot Mt. McKinley. Look for grizzly bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep and other Denali denizens on a Tundra Wilderness Tour in the park with a local guide. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure, and enjoy dinner on your own tonight.

 Day 6 Across the wilderness to Copper Center

Traverse the Alaskan wilderness today from Denali along the Alaska Range to your lodge situated on the Copper River in the small town of Copper Center, a gateway to the massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, known as "North America's Mountain Kingdom." Dinner this evening features a regional favourite, Alaskan salmon.

 Day 7 Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Discover Wrangell-St. Elias National Park - home to more glaciers and mountains above 16,000 feet than any spot in North America, and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated on both sides of the border of the USA and Canada - on a private tour of the park's visitor center with a park ranger. Today you'll also get a glimpse of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which transports crude oil from wells at Prudhoe Bay in the north to the port of Valdez. Return to your wilderness lodge to spend the remainder of the day exactly as you please.

 Day 8 Prince William Sound & embark your cruise

As you pass through the Chugach Mountains en route to Valdez, make a stop at Worthington Glacier; then set off from Valdez by boat across Prince William Sound - ringed by mountains and abundant with wildlife, where you may spot whales, seals and eagles - to Whittier. Board your Princess ship in Whittier to launch the 7-night cruise portion of one of Tauck's best-selling Alaska tours.

 Day 9 Hubbard Glacier and a day at sea

On a day spent at sea, enjoy a private tour of the ship's galley in the morning, and cruise to Hubbard Glacier to view Alaska's longest tidewater glacier up close; its blue color is created by the denseness of the ice, which absorbs all colours of the spectrum except blue. As you cruise, you may want to take in an onboard show, try your luck in the casino, or read in the library; join us for the Captain's welcome reception aboard ship this evening.

 Day 10 Cruising through glorious Glacier Bay

Prepare to be awestruck by Glacier Bay National Park, a highlight of Tauck's Alaska tours, as you cruise along shorelines and among islands that were completely covered by ice some 200 years ago. View blue-tinged ice cliffs towering over the sea, and hear the roar when they calve and crash into the water. Feast your eyes on rugged mountains, spruce and hemlock forests, and deep fjords... and keep them peeled for humpback whales, orcas, seals, and seabirds. Tonight, attend Tauck's exclusive cocktail party featuring hors d'oeuvres and an open bar as your ship sails to Skagway.

 Day 11 Skagway, rafting & a vintage rail trip

Explore historic Skagway, gateway to the Klondike gold fields, in antique vehicles before boarding a ferry cruise on the Lynn Canal - North America's longest and deepest fjord - to Haines. Go rafting* through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, home to large concentrations of bald eagles at certain times of the year. Ride back in time on the exciting White Pass & Yukon Route narrow-gauge railway, built in 1898 during the gold rush. This vintage rail excursion heads up steep grades, around cliff-hanging turns, and over high bridges. Reboard the ship in Skagway.

 Day 12 Private whale watching & more in Juneau

Your ship arrives in Juneau, Alaska's capital city; set on a narrow strip of land between the Coast Mountains and the Gastineau Channel, it's famous for its historic gold mines and mountain and water views. Disembark for sightseeing that includes a stop at the mighty Mendenhall Glacier, just 13 miles from downtown Juneau. While it may appear to be perfectly still, it is on the move, flowing downhill to shape the landscapes encountered along the way. Then spend much of the afternoon aboard an included private whale-watching cruise off Juneau. Reboard your Princess ship late this afternoon, and sail on to Ketchikan.

 Day 13 Totem poles & native culture in Ketchikan

Today you'll dock in Ketchikan, the ancestral home of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes, for an inside look at the role that Tlingit heritage plays in the local culture. See some of the city's numerous totem poles, and watch local totem carvers at work at Saxman Native Village; catch a performance of traditional Tlingit and Haida dances. You'll have time to explore the town on your own, including Creek Street, a historic boardwalk over Ketchikan Creek, and the waterfront promenade, before reboarding the ship to continue your cruise.

 Day 14 A day spent cruising the Inside Passage

Enjoy spectacular views of the fabled Inside Passage from your stateroom, or a variety of decks and lounges, on a full day of cruising past the densely forested islands and coastal communities of this renowned waterway. You can also swim in one of the ship's pools, hear a nature presentation, play a board game in the library, work out in the fitness center, get a relaxing spa treatment, or check out the golf simulator. Cap this most extraordinary of Alaska tours by joining us tonight for a farewell cocktail party followed by dinner aboard your Princess ship.

 Day 15 Disembark Vancouver and fly home

Your most memorable of Alaska tours ends in Vancouver. Disembark your Princess ship in Vancouver, British Columbia, where you'll pass through Canadian customs. Flights should depart after 12:00 noon; a transfer is included from the dock to Vancouver International Airport. Allow a minimum of two hours for flight check-in.