With Holland America Line’s “Alaska Up Close,” guests on Alaska cruises are deeply immersed in the local culture with informative onboard programming, sea-to-table dining and award-winning shore excursions. The premium cruise line is introducing new facets of the program throughout the 2023 Alaska season that offer an even more engaging guest experience.
Added to every Alaska cruise, guests will find new localized cuisine, cocktails featuring authentic glacier ice, an Alaska-themed brunch, Huna native presentation and wildlife experts to help guests spot the abundance of indigenous animals from the ship’s deck. The program continues to deliver workshops and lectures, EXC Talks exploring the stories of real Alaskans and dining events featuring the culinary traditions of the region.
“Since launching Alaska Up Close we’ve introduced incredible programming that brings an authentic Alaska experience to our guests like no other cruise line,” said Michael Smith, senior vice president, guest experience and product development. “This season we’re growing the program to embed Alaskan fresh fish and wildlife spotting into the cruise on an even more expansive scale, from new localized cuisine and cocktails to exciting lectures and wildlife viewing. We want our guests to have experiences they can’t find anywhere else.”
A New Way to Experience Glaciers
Four new cocktails feature authentic Alaska glacier ice harvested by state permit among floating glacier bergs in Prince William Sound and prepared to the highest standard under Alaskan authority. Holland America Line is the only cruise line serving glacier ice, giving guests the unique experience of safely tasting real glacier ice from the waters of Alaska. The cocktails with the glacier ice include:
- Juneau Gin & Tonic” features Juneauper Gin that’s produced in Juneau, Alaska.
- “Alaska’s Blue Ice” has De Kuyper Blue Curaçao, X Rum, pineapple juice. Velvet Falernum and Dry Vermouth.
- Blue Iceberg: Juneauper Gin, apricot brandy, Blue Curaçao and lime juice.
- Black & Blue: a choice of Jonnie Walker Black or Jack Daniels Black Label served over glacier ice.
Holland America Line also is serving new hot cocktails during scenic cruising in Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm and Hubbard Glacier:
- Glacier Bay Coffee: Baileys Irish Cream and Malibu Coconut Rum.
- Alaska Railroad Coffee: Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kahlua and Cream.
- Gold Rush Coffee: Grand Marnier, Coffee and Hot Chocolate.
- Northern Lights: Crème de Cacao, Kahlua and Brandy.
Alaska Brunch Highlights Local Flavours
Offered once per cruise, all dishes on the new Alaska Brunch menu in the Dining Room have been created with the influence of fresh, local Alaskan and Pacific Northwest ingredients. The selections range from sweet to savory and include Alaskan Blueberry Pancakes, Salmon & Potato Chowder, Wild Forest Mushroom and Tarragon Crepes, Kodiak Steak and Egg Skillet, Crab and Hot Smoked Salmon Cakes, Biscuits with Gravy and Alaskan Reindeer Sausage, and Home Smoked Gulf of Alaska Cod Benny.
A Taste of Alaska in Lido Market
During Alaska cruises, the casual Lido Market features special dishes and theme nights. Guests can enjoy a Salmon Bake dinner and Seafood Boil pop-up dinner on all cruises, and a Gold Rush dinner on 14+-day cruises.
In 2022, Holland America Line was awarded Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification — making it the first cruise line to achieve this distinguished credential by serving only fresh, certified sustainable and traceable wild Alaska seafood. On any Alaska cruise, the line serves more than 2,000 pounds of Alaska Salmon, 1,000 pounds of Alaska cod, 800 pounds of Alaska halibut, 500 pounds of Alaska rockfish and more.
All menus highlight “Taste Alaska” by calling out region-specific dishes and fresh fish options.
EXC Talks and Presentations Bring Alaska to Life
Holland America Line’s EXC Talks continue to bring each destination to life with captivating storytelling and expert commentary. On Alaska cruises, guests can attend “Ancestral Memories,” “Breaking the Ice Ceiling,” “Pacific Giants,” “The Iditarod” and “We Are Alaska” to learn more about local culture and customs.
New to the EXC programming, Holland America Line is bringing on a Huna Native Interpreter in traditional dress during the stay at Juneau to introduce guests to the history of the Tlingit people with “Native Voices: Stories of the Tlingit People.”
Wildlife Experts and Park Rangers
A new wildlife expert on board helps guests witness the majestic animals found in Alaska. Guests can be on the lookout for humpback whales, orcas, bald eagles, moose, sea otters, caribou, black and grizzly bears, Dall’s porpoise and more. The daily program highlights designated times to meet the wildlife expert on deck to go in search of the animals in their natural environment.
Holland America Line also is introducing a Wildlife Spotting Guide that points out the native animals found along the cruise route and includes a map with the best places to spot each species. Between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., all wildlife sightings will be announced so guests may go on deck and enjoy viewing.
During Glacier Bay scenic cruising, Holland America Line continues to bring on a Glacier Bay National Park Ranger for the day to engage with guests and talk about Alaska’s most famous national park.
All cruises on Westerdam roundtrip from Seattle feature a presentation by The Alaska Raptor Center at Sitka. Hosted by the wildlife expert, one of the center’s Avian Care Specialists comes aboard with a raptor (eagle, hawk, owl, etc.) to share insights about Alaska’s majestic birds in the World Stage.
On Deck for A Cause: Alaska’s Parks
For the 2023 Alaska season, Holland America Line is donating proceeds from the “On Deck for a Cause” event aboard ships in the region to Alaska Geographic, the nonprofit education partner of Alaska’s parks, forests, refuges and conservation lands. Called “On Deck for a Cause: Alaska’s Parks,” guests on all Alaska cruises are invited to donate $25 to participate in a noncompetitive 5k fundraising walk aboard every sailing.
Holland America Line has six ships exploring Alaska in 2023 on seven- or 14-day cruises from Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, Canada; and Whittier/Anchorage, Alaska, along with Cruisetours up to 18 days, which combine an overland to Denali National Park and the Yukon plus a cruise.
For more information, visit hollandamerica.com.