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Holland America Line Cruise Train Operations


GTJ
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Some information relating to the operation of the Holland America Line Cruise Train by the Alaska Railroad is unclear, and I hope that someone with actual recent experience can clarify. It is clear that the Cruise Train, when contracted by Royal Caribbean International (including Celebrity Cruises), Silversea Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, operates between Seward (cruise ship dock) and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. However, the 2018 Summer Operational Information for Alaska Railroad passenger operations shows the Cruise Train, when contracted by Holland America Line, serves a “South Anchorage Depot” (rather than the airport station). The operating plan also describes the operation of the train as: “This train takes guests from cruise ship to airport (or Anchorage for those participating in land tours). The southbound trip takes guests from airport to cruise ship.” Likewise, the 2018 summer consists show the Holland America Line Cruise Train operating round-trip from Seward to “S of Depot.” (Interestingly, the Holland America Line Cruise Train is also shown as operating with all seven Alaska Railroad low-level dome coaches, as it does when operating the Cruise Train under contract to Princess Cruises as the McKinley Express service, between Whittier and the railroad siding at Woodpecker Avenue near Talkeetna, and not just five of the Alaska Railroad low-level dome coaches when operating the Cruise Train under contract to the other cruise lines.)

 

While the 2018 cruise season is concluding, I expect that the railroad operating plan for next year will be similar, if not identical. So the questions I have, and hope that some others can answer from their experience, are as follows.

 

 

 

  • Is there a “South Anchorage Depot,” presumably south of the main Anchorage downtown station, that is served by the Holland America Line Cruise Train? If so, where is this station located?

 

 

  • Does the Holland America Line Cruise Train make passenger stops at both the airport and this presumed “South Anchorage Depot”? Or does it stop solely at the “South Anchorage Depot,” from which, presumably, motorcoaches transfer passengers to either the airport or to the Eagan Center?

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Some information relating to the operation of the Holland America Line Cruise Train by the Alaska Railroad is unclear, and I hope that someone with actual recent experience can clarify. It is clear that the Cruise Train, when contracted by Royal Caribbean International (including Celebrity Cruises), Silversea Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, operates between Seward (cruise ship dock) and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. However, the 2018 Summer Operational Information for Alaska Railroad passenger operations shows the Cruise Train, when contracted by Holland America Line, serves a “South Anchorage Depot” (rather than the airport station). The operating plan also describes the operation of the train as: “This train takes guests from cruise ship to airport (or Anchorage for those participating in land tours). The southbound trip takes guests from airport to cruise ship.” Likewise, the 2018 summer consists show the Holland America Line Cruise Train operating round-trip from Seward to “S of Depot.” (Interestingly, the Holland America Line Cruise Train is also shown as operating with all seven Alaska Railroad low-level dome coaches, as it does when operating the Cruise Train under contract to Princess Cruises as the McKinley Express service, between Whittier and the railroad siding at Woodpecker Avenue near Talkeetna, and not just five of the Alaska Railroad low-level dome coaches when operating the Cruise Train under contract to the other cruise lines.)

 

While the 2018 cruise season is concluding, I expect that the railroad operating plan for next year will be similar, if not identical. So the questions I have, and hope that some others can answer from their experience, are as follows.

 

 

 

  • Is there a “South Anchorage Depot,” presumably south of the main Anchorage downtown station, that is served by the Holland America Line Cruise Train? If so, where is this station located?

  • Does the Holland America Line Cruise Train make passenger stops at both the airport and this presumed “South Anchorage Depot”? Or does it stop solely at the “South Anchorage Depot,” from which, presumably, motorcoaches transfer passengers to either the airport or to the Eagan Center?

 

We took the train from Anchorage to Seward in June. We were told by HAL when we booked the train that we could board the train at either the airport or at Egan Center. We even rechecked that information with HAL before leaving for Anchorage.

 

After we returned our rental car at the airport, we went to the location at the airport that we were told to check-in for our train. When we arrived there, we were told that the ONLY pick-up location for the train was at Egan Center in downtown Anchorage. (We were told that the departure point had been moved to Egan Center several years ago!!) Luckily, we were meeting our son an his family there for the train ride to Seward. They were being dropped off at the airport by relatives, who had not left the airport yet. They were able to drive all of us to Egan Center. From Egan Center, we were put on a bus that took us to the downtown rail depot.

 

There is a train depot at the airport, but the HAL train does not stop there.

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From Egan Center, we were put on a bus that took us to the downtown rail depot.

 

There is a train depot at the airport, but the HAL train does not stop there.

 

So if I understand correctly, the HAL cruise train originates at the main Alaska Railroad station near downtown Anchorage, not at any distinct station specially for HAL passengers. As well, the HAL cruise train does not wye at the airport station, but instead proceeds nonstop to cruise ship terminal in Seward.

 

This is very helpful to know that the HAL cruise train is distinct from all the other Seward-bound cruise trains, which depart exclusively from the airport station in Anchorage.

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