Holland America to introduce luxury dome cars in Alaska

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A cruise line company is preparing four luxury double-decker dome cars for use in Alaska by next spring.

Holland America Line Westours Inc. has four of the cars under construction. The company and the manufacturer say they will be the largest and longest passenger cars ever built, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

The cars are 89 feet long -- about 4 feet longer than any competitor's, said Dave Beagle, Holland America's vice president of transportation in Seattle. ''We believe we're setting a new standard,'' said Beagle.

The four cars cost $3 million apiece and are being built by Colorado Railcar Manufacturing LLC of Ft. Lupton, Colo.

''These are the most luxurious rail cars built in the world,'' said Tom Janaky, Colorado Railcar's vice president of sales and marketing.

Holland America's McKinley Explorer currently carries passengers between Anchorage and Fairbanks, stopping in Denali National Park. The service runs between May and September each year.

Two other tour companies and the Alaska Railroad Corp. haul passengers on summertime trips.

The new Holland America cars feature full dining room and kitchens, a lounge, viewing platforms, and seating for 88 people, Beagle said.

The cars also have elevators, allowing easy access to the upper dome deck for wheelchair-users.

The cars will have slanted windows on the ends of its dome cars, unlike its competitors. Beagle said the company didn't want the ''bread box'' or ''brick'' look of the other passenger dome cars.

Each car will feature Alaska Native paintings and carvings, and wool seats and carpets made from Swiss sheep, Beagle said.

The 88-passenger cars seat 22 more people than the tour company's existing fleet of 13 dome cars, two of which are being sold for $375,000 apiece to a Lower 48 railroad, Beagle said.

Holland America is banking on the bigger, newer cars bringing more business. ''One needs to be competitive because it is a competitive situation in Alaska,'' Beagle said.

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