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Out There: Seeing Alaska on a Holland America Cruise

alaskan cruise

We know because we’ve been: “Out There” is a series of inspiring travel spotlights from AAA Travel advisors and employees.

Alaska has proven to be an extremely popular and exciting destination in recent years, and it’s no wonder why. 

With a nickname like the Last Frontier, Alaska’s jaw-dropping mountains, stunning coast and unique wildlife give travelers an exhilarating sense of discovery. 

One of the best ways to get the most out of a trip to Alaska is to see it from shore to shore on a cruise. Specialized Alaska cruises can bring you from close encounters with humpback whales to lush forests like few other vacations can. 

AAA Travel advisor Caroline Haylett ventured to Alaska on a Holland America cruise. Follow along to hear about her adventure.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Caroline Haylett. I am a AAA Travel advisor at our Narragansett, Rhode Island, branch.

I have over six years of travel experience. I have been to Egypt, California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Seattle, Las Vegas, Orlando, Ireland, Peru, Iceland, Alaska, Germany, France, Switzerland, Amsterdam, and the Bahamas.

I have been on all sorts of trips, notably cruises with Holland America, Viking River, Royal Caribbean, as well as guided tours with Brendan Vacations, AAA Vacations, and Club Adventures.  

Tell us about your Alaska cruise with Holland America

I’m excited to share our first experience of Alaska! My husband and I flew into Seattle a day early to explore the city and to make sure we arrived in time to board the ship the next day. We had half a day to explore. We went to the original Starbucks and the iconic Space Needle! 

We found that our seven-day Alaskan cruise aboard Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam was the perfect way to experience Alaska’s beauty and wildlife, explore a few of its cities and get a taste of the state’s history. We spent a couple of days sailing through the inside passage and made our first stop in Juneau. We took the Mount Roberts Tramway up the mountainside where we enjoyed the incredible scenery and Alaska’s rainforest! 


After shopping around Juneau, we went on another adventure. We successfully collected a few flakes of gold during our gold-panning excursion at Gold Creek. Then, we went to Gold Creek Salmon Bake for supper. We got to see salmon spawning, a beautiful waterfall and warmed up at the bonfire.  

From Juneau, we sailed overnight to Glacier Bay National Park. We woke up to the most amazing views. We learned from a park ranger that the Glacier Bay National park covers 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, rainforest and deep fjords. We had so much fun sitting on our balcony watching in awe as we floated by several glaciers. We saw bald eagles, otters, seals and whales in the distance.  

Later that afternoon we booked a Spasski River Valley wildlife and bear search excursion in the Icy Strait Point. We saw a grizzly bear, black-tailed deer, Alaskan husky puppies, bald eagles and salmon. 

The next morning, we arrived in Sitka where we booked a city tour. The tour consisted of the Alaskan rapture center, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Totem Pole National Park and the Historical Russian Orthodox church.  

Our final stop was a full day in Ketchikan, where we boarded a cruise ship to view the misty fjords. Learning about the wildlife and the history of the area was an added bonus and made for an unforgettable day. We then went shopping in Ketchikan and stopped at the Famous Fish House for lunch. We ordered a pound of Alaskan crab legs – they were worth every penny. Our Alaskan adventure was everything we could have asked for and much more.  

What was it like to cruise with Holland America?

We had a Veranda Spa room, and some of the on-board activities included Bingo, a casino, lectures, a magic show, comedy, ballet, live music and pools. As far as restaurants, we went to Rudi’s Sel de Mer and Pinnacle Grill. Both were amazing! 

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