Alaska Railroad has been running the 470-mile route from Seward to Fairbanks since 1923, so they know it inside and out, and they pull all the cars, even the ones owned by Holland America and Princess. There are several reasons to choose an Alaska Railroad car, but one reason is that you have the option to choose between two levels of comfort and service. With either Gold Star Service or Adventure Class, you’ll see the rugged terrain and jagged peaks of Alaska in all her majesty, as you chug your way north.
Keep Your Eye on the Sights, or Face Your Friends
Alaska Railroad's GoldStar Service features the newest and most luxurious of all railcars. All the seats in these double-decker dome cars give passengers a full 360-degree view. This is particularly impressive when you can watch an eagle soaring directly overhead from the comfort of your seat. All seats also face forward, with the option to rotate seats to allow for a party of four to face one another.
The Only Outdoor Second-Level Viewing Platform & Meals Included
You’ll have the convenience of a full bar in the upper level seating area and a full-service dining area at the lower level of the car. The cars also feature interior design elements of local Alaskan artists, including whale-bone sculptures and reverse-glass paintings that highlight the flora and fauna of the rail belt. Coffee, tea, soda, and hot chocolate are included with the ticket price and are served seat-side or from the bar. Select meals are also included (breakfast, lunch, and / or dinner, depending on the route you're on). There’s also an open viewing platform on the upper level with a glass roof at the back of the car, so you can capture some of the best photos with an unobstructed view. The GoldStar cars provide the only outdoor platform on the train at the upper level.
Adventure Class has the benefit of being the least expensive option. The cars in Adventure Class have comfortable, forward-facing seats with lots of leg room and large picture window to look out. There are one or two vista dome cars on the Denali Star and Coastal Classic trains for Adventure Class passengers. These vista domes have upper level seats that are left unassigned and are open to everyone. Each car can accommodate about 22 - 24 people at a time in the upper-level viewing area, and passengers share time in the dome seats on a busy day.
Local Alaskan Guides
One of the most unique features of Alaska Railroad is the tour guides they use. During the school year, the Anchorage School District, in partnership with the Alaska Railroad, trains high schoolers to provide commentary on the Alaska Railroad trains. The best candidates are chosen for this prestigious program. So when school is not in session (during the summer, mainly), these extensively trained tour guides give commentary through the trip and are available to answer questions. Tour guides provide commentary in both the coach class and Gold Star cars when school is not in session.