Alaska/British Columbia
Alaska: Deep Into the Last Frontier
Immerse yourself in the spirit of Alaska, discovering local culture, enjoying expert lectures and exploring untamed wilderness still roamed by caribou and moose.
Rating (5)
Program No. 18667RJ
14 days
Starts at
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14 days
13 nights
38 meals
13 B 12 L 13 D
Getting There
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Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Fairbanks, AK
Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center

Afternoon: Program Registration: After checking into the hotel and obtaining your room assignment, please look for the Road Scholar meet and greet table located near the Holland America counter. Program staff will provide you with an arrival packet containing your name tag and the up-to-date schedule; other important information we will review during orientation. If you arrive late, please pick up your packet at the front desk. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In hotel meeting space with entrée, salad, rolls and butter, and chef's choice of dessert. This will be a chance for you to meet your fellow travellers as you begin your journey in wondrous Alaska.

Evening: At leisure. Take the rest of the evening to settle in, relax, and get a good night's sleep for the full day ahead tomorrow.

Thompson Cultural Center, Museum of the North, U of Alaska
Fairbanks, AK
Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center

Activity note: Group will walk 1/2 mile from the hotel to the Morris Thompson Cultural Center. A bus will be taken to the University of Alaska and back to the hotel.

Breakfast: At hotel restaurant via vouchers.

Morning: Orientation: We will gather in our private meeting space where the Road Scholar group leaders will provide an overview of the program and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. The group will then walk to the Morris Thompson Cultural Center for a guided exploration of the center provided by the center's director. Morris Thompson, a Koyukon Athabascan, was born, raised, and is now laid to rest in Tanana, his Native home in interior Alaska. As a native political leader and business man, he dedicated his life to Alaska issues and its peoples. The center is dedicated to his memory.

Lunch: Enjoy an Athabascan meal with local fresh ingredients prepared for our group at the Cultural Center.

Afternoon: Following lunch enjoy a one-hour Cultural Connections Show by Alaskan native youth. After the performance the group will board a bus for a visit and self-guided tour of the Museum of the North on the University of Alaska's Fairbanks campus. The museum exhibits are a great introduction to Alaska’s diverse wildlife, people and land. Exhibits highlight the objects and artifacts, people, wildlife, geography and history of each of Alaska's five major geographic regions. Pieces and objects representing 2000 years of Alaskan art and historical paintings from the 19th and 20th century round out the exhibits. We will then meet to board the bus for the return to the hotel.

Dinner: In hotel meeting space with entrée, salad, rolls and butter, and chef's choice of dessert.

Evening: At your leisure to rest and relax for tomorrow's early departure. Please remember that you may want two sets of bags for tomorrow morning. One set that will be transferred directly to the ship and another with your items for Denali, Anchorage and Seward. Your leaders will explain how to identify your bags for proper transfer.

Fairbanks to Denali, Check-In, Welcome to the Subarctic
Denali National Park, AK
McKinley Chalet Resort

Activity note: Coach trip to Denali from Fairbanks is 3 1/2 hours. A break will be taken mid trip to allow for stretching of legs.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant via vouchers.

Morning: Bags out by 6:00 am. Depart via motorcoach to Denali National Park on the George Parks Highway. As you depart Fairbanks you will view rolling hill country covered with spruce and birch trees before climbing across the Alaska Range. Enjoy the incredible scenery with views of mountains and meandering rivers. Keep a look out for moose and other wildlife as they are sometimes spotted along the road. As you head closer to Denali, the highway crosses a deep canyon, carved by the Nenana River.

Lunch: Depending on arrival time in Denali National Park, lunch will be a boxed lunch with sandwich, fruit and cookie or at the McKinley Chalet's restaurant to include an entrée, coffee, tea, milk or juice.

Afternoon: After checking in at the lodge, you'll have free time to take the opportunity to hike near the entrance to Denali National Park. A shuttle is also available from the lodge to the park's visitor center. It is the main National Park Service Welcome and Information Center. The center offers visitors a chance to learn more about the park by speaking with park rangers, viewing the 20 minute park film, "Heartbeats of Denali," and exploring the exhibit area.

Dinner: Homemade buffet-style dinner at Denali Education Center including salad, entree, veggies, dessert and beverages.

Evening: Following dinner, the Denali Education Center will provide a "Welcome to the Sub Arctic" presentation. A non-profit educational partner of Denali National Park and Preserve since 1989, the Denali Education Center provides Road Scholar programs during the summer months. Their presentation will provide an excellent background for your trip into the park tomorrow.

Heart of Denali National Park, Wildlife Viewing
Denali National Park, AK
McKinley Chalet Resort

Activity note: Group will depart the lodge between 5:30 and 6:30 am.

Breakfast: 5:00 am early morning breakfast at the McKinley Chalet with vouchers.

Morning: Group will depart very early this morning for a Denali Tundra Tour via coach, returning at approximately 1:30 pm. A snack will be provided on the bus as well as a boxed lunch. Traveling 53 miles into the park to the Toklat River Rest Area, the Tundra Wilderness Tour provides the opportunity to see the incredible scenery within the park. It includes a narrated history of the park road and some of the best opportunities to view the park’s wildlife inhabitants. One never knows when wildlife will show, but there will be opportunities to look for Dall sheep, moose, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears. On days when Denali (Mt. McKinley) is visible, it may be possible to travel to Stony Hill Overlook (another eight miles down the road) and view the entire mountain from base to summit. Rest stops are made at least once every 90 minutes.

Lunch: Boxed lunch including sandwich, fruit and beverage provided on the bus trip.

Afternoon: After returning from the Tundra Tour, enjoy some free time to explore the park. Be sure to take advantage of the park shuttle which stops at the chalet. There are several short hikes that begin in the area of the visitor center. Also near the visitor center are the kennels for the sled dogs of Denali, which have been important to the park for so long that they have become a part of it, and a cultural tradition worthy of protection. The dogs, and the kennels where they live, represent important pieces of American history and symbols of cultural and native significance, the pioneer experience in the far north, and the history of Alaska's first national park.

Dinner: After a long day of activity, we will not eat as a group, so you can set your own schedule for the evening. Dinner will be via voucher at the hotel's grill or cafe.

Evening: At your leisure.

Train to Anchorage, Hurricane Gulch, Mt. Denali (McKinley)
Anchorage, AK
Westmark Anchorage Hotel

Activity note: Train trip from Denali to Anchorage takes approximately 8 hours. During the trip you will be able to move about the train cars. Lunch will be served on the train via vouchers.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Place bags outside room by 7:00 am. Depart via coach to train depot for trip to Anchorage at approximately 9:00 am. Train will depart the depot by 10:00 am. Narration will be provided on the train.

Lunch: Aboard the train to include entree, dessert and beverage via voucher.

Afternoon: Relax and view the scenic beauty as the train cuts through Broad Pass, the highest point on the Alaska Railroad at 2,363 feet. North of Talkeetna you will cross the startling 918-foot Hurricane Gulch trestle, towering 296 feet above the creek below. 70 miles south of Talkeetna marks one of the most spectacular views of Denali (McKinley). If the weather is good the train will slow to allow passengers to snap a few photos. Keep an eye out for bears, moose, eagles, beavers, wolves and swans. We will arrive in Anchorage late afternoon and check into the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel in our meeting space.

Evening: At your leisure after visiting as a group following dinner.

Anchorage Museum, Turnagain Arm, Wildlife Center
Seward, AK
Windsong Lodge

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile, approx. ½ hour, on city sidewalks. Driving about 2.5 hours, with a break.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with including an egg dish, a variety of hot and cold cereals, breakfast breads and meats, pastries, fresh fruit, milk, juice, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we'll walk as a group to the Anchorage Museum for a self-led visit. Enjoy the large variety of exhibits that explain pre-historic, historic and present-day Anchorage and Alaska at large. The Alaska Gallery displays more than 1,000 objects and is one of the finest presentations of Alaskan history and ethnology in the state. Full-scale and miniature dioramas provide a look at the early lifestyles of Alaska’s native peoples. Exhibits also cover the exploration and settlement by the Russians, the gold rush era, World War II and statehood. Afterwards, enjoy some time on your own in Anchorage until meeting at a predetermined time and place for travel via motorcoach along Turnagain Arm. South of Anchorage, the Seward Highway hugs the dramatic shorelines of Turnagain Arm and is regarded as one of the world's great drives, even ranking closely with Italy's Amalfi Drive. This route is one of 15 roads in the U.S. that have been designated as an "All-American Road." Here, explorer Captain Cook searched for the Northwest Passage. Local lore has it that the arm is so named because Cook entered it repeatedly, only to be forced to turn back by the huge tide of water that pushes up the inlet. Our Group Leader will provide commentary onboard the motorcoach.

Lunch: Aboard the motorcoach, we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: As we continue towards Seward down the Kenai Peninsula, watch for beluga whales which are frequent visitors to the arm as they patrol the muddy waters in search of salmon and hooligan – a variety of smelt. High tide is the best time to see these rare creatures. Upon arrival at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, our Group Leader will lead us around the exhibits and provide commentary on the beautiful creatures in residence here. We’ll then transfer to the hotel in Seward to check-in.

Dinner: At the Windsong Lodge in our meeting space.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out, transfer and embarkation tomorrow.

Behind the Scenes at Alaska Sealife Center, Ship Embarkation
ms Noordam
ms Noordam

Activity note: Group will take a shuttle into Seward from the lodge. After presentation at Alaska Sealife Center, the group will catch a public shuttle within a block from the Sealife Center and be dropped off near the ship dock. The walk to the ship will be no more than a block.

Breakfast: Early breakfast buffet at the Windsong Lodge via meal vouchers.

Morning: Transfer from the Windsong Lodge to downtown Seward. Spend time in the Alaska Sealife Center where you will see marine life and birds in a behind the scenes visit to learn about the role of the Sealife Center in education, research and the rehabilitation of marine animals. It is Alaska's only public aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center. View puffins, octopus, sea lions and other sea life while learning about the center's mission to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. After our visit the group will board a shuttle and transfer to the ship.

Lunch: Onboard the ship, or if you prefer you may dine on your own in Seward. Seward has a shuttle service from downtown to the ship dock. Ship boarding begins at 1:00 pm.

Afternoon: Be on board the ship by 5:00 pm. Snacks available on LIDO Deck. If you have any questions, please look for the Road Scholar hospitality desk onboard the ship. We will have a life boat and life preserver drill prior to departure from Seward. There will also be a brief introduction provided by Road Scholar staff prior to dinner.

Dinner: Each evening we will have a pre-scheduled early seating for dinner in the main dining room. The regionally inspired cuisine features classic dishes and vegetarian choices. Starters, salads, entrées, desserts, coffee and tea are included with additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At your leisure to explore the hospitality on the ship.

Road Scholar Staff Presentation, Captain's Toast
ms Noordam
ms Noordam

Breakfast: Onboard the ship at the restaurant of your choice as the ship continues sailing toward Glacier Bay.

Morning: Spend time on deck viewing glaciers and watch for wildlife in the waters. Road Scholar staff will provide a lecture on Alaska. Each specially selected staff member has expertise of their own, so lectures on the ship will vary by cruise. Opportunities for ship activities will also be available and Road Scholar staff will make slight adjustments to the days schedule to facilitate the inclusion of these opportunities.

Lunch: Onboard the ship.

Afternoon: This afternoon will include a presentation by Road Scholar staff covering such topics as how to see nature in action during the cruise, life in Alaska, or other topics of interest in our meeting space. Early in the evening we will gather for a special Road Scholar cocktail party with music and appetizers.

Dinner: We will have a pre-scheduled early seating for dinner in the main dining room. Menu will include starters, soup, salad, entrée, coffee, tea, water, and dessert with additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Join in a celebration as we give a toast to the captain!

Nature Interpretation in Glacier Bay, Tidewater Glaciers
Glacier Bay, AK
ms Noordam

Breakfast: Onboard the ship.

Morning: Glacier Bay National Park Ranger-Naturalists will board the ship near Gustavus at the mouth of the Bay. They will be on hand to explain the history of the area and point out the glaciers and other features of the area.

Lunch: We will eat onboard the ship at one of its many eateries. You may pick the location that you like best.

Afternoon: Spend time out on deck to watch for wildlife and enjoy the scenery. If a glacier is fed by enough snow to flow out of the mountains and down to the sea, we call it a "tidewater" glacier, which is the type of glacier seen from the ship in Glacier Bay. Watch closely when the ship stops near a tidewater glacier and you may very well see a calving glacier, which is a sight to be seen. Listen for the sound as the great blocks of ice up to 200 feet high break loose and crash into the water. In the early afternoon we will have a lecture onboard the ship. Later, a Huna Tlingit cultural ambassador will discuss personal experiences, clan and family traditions, and the historic use of the Glacier Bay area. Learn about traditional subsistence practices and the traditions that have sustained the Huna Tlingit people dating back thousands of years.

Dinner: Onboard the ship.

Evening: Road Scholar staff will provide an orientation to Skagway and a presentation on the history of the area.

Haines, Skagway, White Pass & Yukon Railway
Haines, AK
ms Noordam

Activity note: We will meet with a local guide and walk into Haines, which is approximately 1/2 mile. Late morning we will take a ferry to Skagway. Ramps can be steep getting on and off the ferry.

Breakfast: Onboard the ship at your leisure. Be prepared to gather in our meeting space by 8:30 am for a special guest presentation. Our speaker will discuss growing up in Alaska.

Morning: After our presentation, disembark and explore the town of Haines with a local expert. Together we will board a ferry for Skagway and ride the White Pass and Yukon Railway.

Lunch: En route.

Afternoon: Ride the White Pass & Yukon Railway across the White Pass a short distance into Canada. Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, this narrow gauge railroad is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Its steep grade (about 3,000 feet in 20 miles) includes tunnels, bridges and trestles. On the return trip to Skagway you will have a chance to take in the panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites from the comfort of vintage parlor cars. Once back in Skagway take time to explore the town. Time may be limited depending upon the departure time for the ferry back to Haines.

Dinner: Onboard the ship, or eat on your own in Haines. Haines provides a town shuttle which runs frequently between the ship dock and town.

Evening: Join Road Scholar staff for an orientation to Juneau and its history. There will be time for a late evening walk on shore before the ship departs for Juneau.

Eagles, Whales, Seals, Mendenhall Glacier, Free Time Juneau
Juneau, AK
ms Noordam

Activity note: Optional trails at Mendehall Glacier are uneven and unpaved. Option to spend time at the Visitor Center which has several stairs, but has an elevator as well.

Breakfast: On board ship at your leisure.

Morning: Disembark and board a motorcoach for an exclusive narrated drive to Mendenhall Glacier. Morning viewing of the glacier is more relaxed as most visitors arrive in the afternoon. Take a leisurely walk on the many trails and stop in the Visitor Center to talk with a ranger. Our group will then board a private catamaran for a whale watching expedition among the many islands in Stephen's Passage. View glaciers as well as wildlife along the way.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch on our whale watching expedition to include sandwich, fruit, cookie and beverage. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and water available during whale watch.

Afternoon: During our whale watching expedition the onboard naturalist will explain the behavior and habitat of wildlife you may encounter, including humpback and killer whales, Steller sea lions, Dall’s porpoise, harbor seals, bald eagles, bear and deer. Arrive back at Auke Bay and embark on a motorcoach transfer to Juneau where you can independently visit points of interest such as the Alaska State Museum, the Juneau Museum, the State Capitol, the Russian Orthodox church building and historic Franklin Street Area.

Dinner: Onboard the ship.

Evening: Join the Road Scholar staff in our meeting space for a presentation.

Ketchikan Totems, Visit Saxman Mayor, SE Discover Center
Ketchikan, AK
ms Noordam

Breakfast: Onboard the ship.

Morning: Travel south through Clarence Straits toward Ketchikan. Gather in the Road Scholar meeting space for a presentation.

Lunch: Onboard at your leisure as we approach Ketchikan.

Afternoon: Disembark for a presentation at the Totem Heritage Center where staff will discuss culture and crafts of the native people. Go behind-the-scenes to examine a collection of totems up close along with native crafts. Learn about the native culture from a Tlingit tribal member and mayor of the Saxman native community and prior mayor of Ketchikan Borough. Independently spend time at the Southeast Discovery Center looking at the exhibits. Walk or travel via motorcoach to the historic Creek Street Area and note totems in the area of the library and Creek Street. Spend time exploring the core of the downtown area, then join the group to return to the ship.

Dinner: Onboard the ship.

Evening: Explore Ketchikan until the call for all aboard. Enjoy a short Road Scholar presentation this evening.

At Sea, Canadian Waters, Road Scholar Staff Presentation
ms Noordam
ms Noordam

Breakfast: Onboard the ship.

Morning: This morning we will enjoy a lecture in a meeting space onboard the ship as we travel into Canadian waters.

Lunch: Onboard the ship.

Afternoon: At leisure to prepare for our disembarkation tomorrow. We will be traveling along the coast of British Columbia. Watch for lighthouses and fishing fleets as we continue down Hecate Strait and into Queen Charlotte Sound. Get together in our meeting space for a Q&A session to discuss the disembarkation procedures. Road Scholar staff will address any questions or concerns to make the process as stress free as possible.

Dinner: Onboard the ship.

Evening: At leisure to enjoy our last evening on the ship and to allow for final packing of items to take home.

Vancouver, BC, Program Concludes
Vancouver, BC

Breakfast: Onboard the ship.

Morning: Early morning arrival in Vancouver at Canada Place Pier. Disembark and transfer to the airport or to area hotels if staying over. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.