Royal Celebrity puffs up Alaska's rails

ANCHORAGE -- Royal Celebrity Tours, the tour division created earlier this year by Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, is putting a new emphasis on rail excursions to interior destinations in Alaska.

New custom-built railcars will debut next spring as part of the cruise line's land-and-sea programs for passengers booked on Celebrity's 1,870-passenger Mercury or Royal Caribbean's 2,435-passenger Rhapsody of the Seas.

Thirteen land packages from two to six nights will be offered to places such as Alyeska, Denali, Talkeetna, Anchorage and Fairbanks.

The packages provide a mixture of motorcoach and rail travel.

Amenities on the new railcars include reclining seats and headsets that feature musical and educational programs.

The railcars also will feature an outdoor platform for panoramic views and a bistro-style restaurant specializing in regional Alaska cooking.

Bob Stone, vice president of operations for Royal Celebrity Tours, said the greatest demand on land is "along the railroad, with the Native Heritage Cultural Center in Anchorage, Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and gold rush history in Fairbanks."

"We can provide a great tour through these areas from the train," Stone added.

Land packages, meanwhile, run the gamut from relaxing to challenging.

In Denali, tour options include whitewater rafting; helicopter tours, and dinner and a show at the Denali Dinner Theater.

In Talkeetna, guests can opt for a flightseeing tour over Mount McKinley or a trout-fishing excursion.

Passengers can choose to go hiking in Alyeska or visit the famous Iditarod dogsled headquarters on the road from Denali to Anchorage.

For additional information or to make reservations, call Celebrity Cruises at (800) 437-3111 or Royal Caribbean at (800) 327-6700.

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