White Pass Scenic Railroad
Cruise,  Travel

White Pass Scenic Railway | Princess Cruise Excursion Review In Skagway

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Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure aboard the White Pass Railroad, a stunning railway journey that winds through the rugged landscape of Alaska. As one of the most popular shore excursions for cruise line passengers, this experience offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into the region’s rich history.

White Pass Scenic Railway
White Pass Scenic Railway

From boarding the train to must-see stops along the route, this ultimate guide has everything you need to know to make the most of your White Pass Scenic Railway excursion. So sit back, relax, and get ready to make memories that will last a lifetime!

Planning your trip on the White Pass Railroad

Before embarking on your White Pass Railroad adventure, it’s essential to plan ahead. Start by booking your tickets early, as this popular excursion can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Consider opting for a seat on the left side of the train car for the best views of the breathtaking scenery along the route. Keep in mind that the train does loop at the summit and come back so that the right side will get the same incredible views on the way down.

White Pass Scenic Railway | Princess Cruise Excursion Review In Skagway
The best cruise excursion in Skagway, Alaska

The White Pass Scenic Railway excursion is family-friendly, however, you may want to bring an additional activity or two in the event the kids get restless.

Be sure to check the weather forecast before your journey and dress appropriately for the varying conditions you may encounter. Dress warmly, as the train can get cold with guests venturing outdoors to the platforms.

The platforms outside of each passenger coach
The platforms outside of each passenger coach

Getting to the train from the port

Those passengers who booked through the ship will disembark the ship when their excursion number is called. During our recent cruise in 2024, Princess Cruises had to tender guests to the ship to the pier due to landslides in Skagway.

By booking through the cruise line, you can take advantage of the dockside service and board the train on the pier alongside your ship. This is a tremendous perk, as cruise passengers will get to board the train first!

Discovery Princess docked in Skagway
Discovery Princess docked in Skagway

This excursion is wheelchair accessible. However, space is limited in lift-equipped cars. Please let Princess or your cruise line know when reserving your seats if you or anyone in your party will require the lift to get onto the train.

What to expect during the ride

Once you board your train car, prepare to be captivated by the stunning landscapes unfolding before your eyes. The journey will take you through rugged terrain, picturesque mountains, and lush forests, offering a truly immersive experience in Alaska’s wilderness.

Photo courtesy of White Pass & Yukon Route

As the train winds its way along the historic route, you’ll have ample opportunities to snap photos, spot wildlife, and soak in the natural beauty surrounding you. Knowledgeable guides will provide informative commentary on the area’s history and significance, adding depth to your excursion.

Scenic views along the White Pass Summit
Scenic views along the White Pass Summit

Retrace the original route to the White Pass Summit, passing Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch. Enjoy a breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites. See the original Klondike Trail of ‘98 worn into the rocks, a permanent tribute to the thousands of souls who passed this way in search of fortune.

Hear the tales of miners who met their demise and others who found fortune, pass the gold rush cemetery before pulling back into the historic station in downtown Skagway.

Keep your eyes out for wildlife and waterfalls during your trip.
Keep your eyes out for wildlife and waterfalls during your trip.

During our ride, we saw a bear scampering up the mountain and soaring bald eagles!

The train stops in downtown Skagway giving passengers who wish to disembark the option, then it takes the remaining passengers back to the pier.

Tips for a comfortable and enjoyable experience

Once onboard the White Pass Scenic Railway, settle in vintage passenger coaches for an unforgettable journey that will last 2.5-2.7 hours.

White Pass & Yukon Route
White Pass & Yukon Route

No passport is required for the White Pass Summit Excursion, as you will not disembark the train at the summit. Longer train rides into Canada that guests can disembark are available and highly recommended.

On a personal note, if we can visit Skagway in the future, signing up for the longer train route into Canada will be a must to soak up more of the dramatic landscapes and history.

Each passenger coach is equipped with a restroom and a small heater. Guests are given an All Aboard souvenir magazine and a bottled water to enjoy during the ride.

Train rides can wear the kids out!
Train rides can wear the kids out!

Quick Tips:

  • Guests hop back and forth to the different passenger coaches. They must stay within their own coach.
  • After the train leaves Skagway city limits, guests are allowed to go out and stand on two platforms on each coach (one in the front of the coach and one in the back). Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Capture the best photos and videos without the window glare by heading out to the platforms.
  • Bring a jacket and hat, especially if you plan to venture on the passenger coach platforms.
  • Carry cash for tips.
  • Bring pre-wrapped snacks. Guests are not allowed to carry unwrapped food off the cruise ship. Pack a few granola bars, bags of chips, or trail mix. No snacks are sold onboard.
  • No alcohol is allowed or sold on board the White Pass Railway.
  • DON’T FORGET YOUR CAMERA AND MEMORY CARD (if applicable)!

For more information on the White Pass & Yukon Route website.

Additional activities and attractions near the railroad route

While the White Pass Railroad offers a breathtaking journey through stunning landscapes, the surrounding areas also boast a plethora of activities and attractions to enhance your experience. From hiking trails to historical sites, there is no shortage of things to explore near the railroad route. Visit the charming town of Skagway for a dose of history, or embark on a nature walk to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness.

Stop into downtown Skagway for tons of Goldrush history!
Stop into downtown Skagway for tons of Goldrush history!

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center is a great stop after disembarking the White Pass Railway. Learn more about the history of the gold rush, have the kids take part of the Junior Ranger Program, and snag a map to all the historic spots in Skagway.

Kids can become a Junior Ranger!
Kids can become a Junior Ranger!

If you like seafood, venture off the main street to Woadie’s South East Seafood for a cup of their Dungeness Bisque and freshly caught crab legs. The wait is worth it.

Woadie's is a seafood staple in Skagway
Woadie’s is a seafood staple in Skagway

Other fun sights in Skagway after your White Pass Summit Ride include:

  • Grabbing a drink at the Red Onion Saloon
  • Try the spruce-tipped beer at Skagway Brewing Company
  •  Skagway footbridge
  • Take an easy walk to Pullen Creek Streamwalk and Dewey Creek
The Red Onion Saloon
The Red Onion Saloon

Be sure to plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your visit and create lasting memories beyond the train ride.

Looking for more articles on cruising? We share our cruise tips and packing lists here.

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