Best of the West & Alaska Cruise
SELF DRIVE TOURING & HOLLAND AMERICA CRUISE
BANFF | JASPER | WELLS GRAY PROVINCIAL PARK | WHISTLER | PARKSVILLE | VICTORIA | VANCOUVER | ALASKA CRUISE
Discover the natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia; visit the mountain resorts of Jasper and Whistler; explore the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver and the ever-so-British Victoria. The quintessential Alaska cruise features the quaint towns of the Inside Passage plus scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park.
Best of the West & Alaska Cruise
Day 1 : UK - Calgary - Banff (75 miles)
Arrive at Calgary Airport, collect your car and take the short drive to Banff.
Day 2 : Banff Exploring
Nestled high in the Canadian Rockies, Banff is a town that makes you feel at home and exhilarated with wonder all at the same time. This is a town that truly celebrates its heritage, lives and breathes mountain culture and never takes its backyard for granted. In all directions you’re surrounded by strikingly beautiful and rugged mountains that seem to burst straight out of the ground. You might even see a herd of deer wandering down the main street. Perhaps go out and discover the many sights and highlights of the town, or the picturesque scenery of nearby Bow River. If you’re feeling more adventurous, maybe you’ll take a heli-flightseeing tour for awe-inspiring aerial views of the Canadian Rockies. Check out the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff Gondola (admission included) where you will see a panoramic view of the Bow Valley, and then take a dip in the hot mineral pools at the Upper Hot Springs.
Day 3 : Banff - Jasper (185 miles)
Take the short drive from Banff to Lake Louise. Choose the Bow Valley Parkway, beside the Bow River with an option for you to take a stop at Johnston Canyon and walk along the paved footway to either the lower or upper waterfalls before continuing to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. From Lake Louise your scenic drive takes you through the spine of the Canadian Rockies along the Icefield Parkway. Stop at the Columbia Icefield for an Ice Explorer ride onto the glacier (included 01 May - 19 Oct). Leaving the Athabasca Glacier, your camera should be ready to capture the majesty of the Athabasca Falls prior to your arrival into Jasper.
Day 4 : Jasper
The day is free for your to explore this charming mountain village close to many terrific scenic highlights. This pleasant alpine village is nestled amidst some of Canada’s most stunning scenery. The “Gem of the Canadian Rockies” is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, thundering waterfalls, glaciers, lakes and rivers running in deep canyons, a region where wildlife abounds. Perhaps take a gondola ride to Jasper’s alpine tundra for stunning views of six mountain ranges, or maybe a gentle raft ride down the Athabasca River; then stroll around the village and relax with a coffee. Jasper National Park was established in 1907 and is the largest national park in the Rockies. With over 4,000 acres of alpine forests, white-water rivers, hot springs, soaring mountain peaks and tranquil river valleys there’s little chance you’ll see it all! Perhaps you’ll visit the limestone gorge of Maligne Canyon or volcanic Medicine Lake, named by tribal elders who believed its waters had healing powers. Admire the breath-taking beauty of glacially fed Maligne Lake and perhaps cruise to Spirit Island (not included)
Day 5 : Jasper - Wells Gray Park (195 miles)
Your drive today takes you to Wells Gray Provincial Park along the scenic Yellowhead Highway with breathtaking vistas of the steep-walled gorges and crashing falls of the North Thompson River. Overnight in Clearwater.
Day 6 : Clearwater - Whistler (265 miles)
Begin the day travelling via 100 Mile House to the gold rush town of Cache Creek, where you stop to visit the historic Hat Creek Ranch (included), which literally takes you back to the days of the gold rush. Continue south to Lillooet, known as the land of the Gold Rush and along the Duffey Lake Road to Whistler.
Day 7 : Whistler
Whistler is a world-class mountain resort and hive of activity for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. Think of Whistler and you may think of skiing and snowboarding, but this pretty alpine village has gained a reputation for attracting summer visitors because of its quaint village, excellent cuisine and friendly cafés. Today is at leisure to immerse yourself in the electrifying alpine ambience of this well-known resort, a hotspot for skiers, hikers and nature-lovers, set in the lofty surrounds of the Coast Mountains. Enjoy some of Whistlers activities, from golf on one of the 4 championship designer golf courses, water activities on any of the 5 lakes or rivers, to mountain top dining or just relax and enjoy some of the fine café’s and restaurants of the village. The Peak2Peak gondola ride is included to the top of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains (operates 27 May - 17 Sep; 18 Sep - 09 Oct weekends only).
Day 8 : Whistler - Parksville (70 miles + ferry)
Depart Whistler along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway. Discover scenic ocean vistas, soaring mountains and dramatic waterfalls on your way to Horseshoe Bay, before boarding the ferry to Vancouver Island. This scenic cruise takes you through fjord like waters with mountains blanketed with virgin forests and glaciated peaks.
Day 9 : Parksville - Victoria (95 miles)
Travel along the East Coast of Vancouver Island and head south to Victoria. Stop at the artist community of Chemainus, where you can admire the 39 giant murals which adorn the exterior walls throughout the town, browse the quirky antique shops and enjoy lunch. Continue to Duncan on Cowichan Bay, home to 80 totem poles dotted around the town which give it its “City of Totems” nickname. Don’t miss the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre before leaving for Victoria.
Day 10 : Victoria and Butchart Gardens
Today is free to explore Victoria, with its turn of the century architecture, British traditions such as high tea and shops full of woollens and china. Admission is included to the Butchart Gardens, one of the world’s premier floral show gardens established by the Butchart family in 1904. Here, you will have ample time to stroll through the wonderful estate and view the truly enchanting gardens with its 50 acre display of magnificent colour. Spend time wandering through the lovely Sunken Garden and relax in the beautiful settings of the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden amongst 900 different varieties of flowers with a botanist on hand and to find out more about your favourite flora.
Day 11 : Victoria - Vancouver (45 miles + ferry)
Leaving Victoria drive north to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal for a 90 minute ferry cruise (cost included) through the Gulf Islands as you cross the Strait of Georgia to Tsawwassen, then continue to Vancouver.
Day 12 : Vancouver
Visit two of Vancouver's best tourist attractions today. At the Capilano Suspension Bridge, spend time exploring temperate rainforest and learn all about salmon at the fish Hatchery. Then continue to Grouse Mountain where you’ll take the Skyride to the Peak of Vancouver with breath-taking views over the Lower Mainland and Coast Mountain Range.
Day 13 : Vancouver - Free Day
A free day to explore Vancouver, voted the world’s third most liveable city and most liveable in Canada; a young, friendly city with countless natural charms in close proximity. Shop on chic Robson Street or explore the funky Granville Island with its market and artists enclave; visit the city’s vast array of museums; walk or cycle around the 1000-acre Stanley Park or visit quaint and atmospheric Gastown. Discover the surrounding peaks of the Coastal Mountains or go whale watching on the Pacific Ocean. Dining is a delight and a dilemma, there’s so many restaurants and cuisines to choose from; the nightlife so varied you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Day 14 : Depart Vancouver - Alaska Cruise
Depart Vancouver at 4:30pm. On-board your cruise ship relax, unpack and settle in before enjoying an evening meal. Surrounded by remarkable nature, you may even see breaching whales, soaring eagles and barking seals.
Day 15 : Cruising the Insider Passage
Today will be spent cruising the Inside Passage. This beautiful scenic waterway reaches 1000 miles from British Columbia to historic Skagway. Through a maze of bays, straits, arms and fjords, you’ll cruise past an ever-changing panorama of unspoiled beauty; cascading waterfalls, virgin forests and majestic glacier-carved fjords.
Day 16 : Tracy Arm - Juneau
You’ll arrive at Tracy Arm fjord at around 10am. Listen carefully and you may even hear the ice crackle and pop, and take in the sights uninterrupted while you wait for the glacier to calve. Later, you’ll continue your journey to Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. Born in the gold rush of 1880, it is the incredible scenery, wild mountains, fjords and dominating glaciers that make this city stand out. Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife; you might spot humpback and killer whales, sea lions, porpoise, eagles and deer, and the Mendanhall Glacier is close-by too.
Day 17 : Skagway
Your next stop is Skagway. The staging grounds for the most incredible gold rush the world has ever known, today you’ll stroll past false fronted buildings and the wooden boardwalks that line the street. If you want to know more, you can head to the ship’s luxury jewellery boutique to learn about gold nuggets and maybe even pick out a piece of jewellery for yourself or a loved one to forever remind you of your Alaska cruise.
Day 18 : Glacier Bay
You’ll be served cups of Dutch green pea soup on the Lido deck today as your ship edges so close to the face of Glacier Bay’s Margerie Glacier that you can feel its coolness in the air. If you listen closely, you’ll hear ‘White Thunder’ the Tlingit name for the sound of glaciers crashing into the sea. Keep an eye out for wildlife too; Glacier National Park is home to wolves, moose, grizzly and brown bears, deer and lynx. National Park Service rangers will board your ship to point out wildlife and explain glacial activity.
Day 19 : Ketchikan
Today you’ll be heading to Ketchikan; much of the town’s colourful past is still in evidence, as you’ll realise when you the world’s largest collection of totem poles which stare out to sea. Study the stories carved into the Tlingit totem poles and carve a story of your own with a tribal elder. Ketchikan comes from the native language word “where the eagles meet”... so be sure to keep an eye out for them.
Day 20 : Cruising the Inside Passage
As you make your way back to Vancouver via the Inside Passage, you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty and an abundance of wildlife. Keep an eye out for fishing trawlers laden with their catch heading to harbour, historic lighthouses on rocky isolated shores, coastal First Nations long houses fronted with proud totems and all manner of marine life.
Day 21-22 : Vancouver - UK
Arrive back in Vancouver at 7am for your onward flight back in the UK.