Gray Line’s Explorer motorcoach tours are very popular in Alaska. // © 2016 Christopher Batin
Gray Line Alaska is known for tours that offer great motorcoach routes and destination-rich packages throughout the 49th state.
But its roots go far deeper — Gray Line shares nearly 70 years of history with Holland America Line (HAL).
“Many people don’t know that Gray Line is owned and operated by HAL,” said Stacy Mohr, marketing manager for Gray Line. “While both companies complement each other and utilize many of the same resources, each has its own niche function. Gray Line is a land-and-sea vacation without the cruise. We serve visitors who are not cruise-oriented or who didn’t opt for a land vacation on their last visit to Alaska. We also cater to people who are visiting Alaska friends or relatives and also want to see the main highlights of the state.”
Despite heavy competition among Alaska trip consolidators, Mohr says there are several reasons why agents should consider Gray Line for their clients.
“Gray Line is not just selling a tour or operating it,” she said. “Because of our HAL connection, we offer tons of integrated assets, such as lodges and resorts, railcars and motorcoaches, as well as experienced staff and support to keep customers happy and coming back year after year.”
Gray Line’s offerings also meet the changing needs of Alaska visitors.
“Our Self-Drive Tour has been out for three years now,” Mohr said. “While it’s not our most popular tour, it’s holding its own for a different type of explorer, one who has curiosity and doesn’t want to be bound by rigid itineraries. It’s for travelers who have been to Alaska but who haven’t had the time to check out small towns along the way, such as Talkeetna, off the Parks Highway. The tours also appeal to visitors who don’t want the hassle or guesswork of making all the travel arrangements, yet want to travel at their own pace — to stop and smell the wildflowers along the way.”
While self-drive travelers still need to adhere to the basic schedule in order to participate in tours and arrive at their accommodations, the rest of their travel and leisure time is free to do with as they choose.
Gray Line’s Explorer motorcoach tours continue to remain the mainstay product. One option is Denali-Kenai Explorer, which offers a “Best of Alaska” tour that combines highlights from Denali National Park and a remote stay at Denali Backcountry Lodge, with visits to Seward, Alaska, and Kenai Fjords National Park.
HAL has some changes in the works, as well. It’s in the final stages of major renovations at its Denali McKinley Chalet Resorts, near Denali Park, with expected completion by May 2016.