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Alaska Land Tour Jobs - Summer Jobs

Summer Jobs - Alaska Tour Guide Jobs

Land tour jobs in Alaska can be an excellent way to spend a summer working in Alaska. Not only can you make outstanding money, but you get a lot of additional perks along with meeting a lot of wonderful people.

Nearly all cruise lines set sail to Alaska during the summer, but of them, Princess Cruises and Holland America hire thousands of employees (in Alaska, Seattle, and Vancouver) for a variety of seasonal, land-based positions.

In Alaska, there are two distinct job categories: wilderness lodge jobs and tour division jobs.  Typical lodge positions include: front desk, food and beverage, gift shop, housekeeping, and maintenance. Just considering Pricess' operations alone, they have major shoreside operations in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Denali National Park, Fairbanks, the Kenai River, and Mt. McKinley.  Their lodges are where cruise passengers stay while on the land portion of their cruise.  The tour division hires 250 people between its operations onboard the Midnight Sun Express. Train job titles include tour guide and food services and there are ground-based crew like maintenance, office assistant, and prep cook in the Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Seward offices. If a train job is what you are interested in, check out the Alaska Railroad.  This railroad offers year-round service between Seward and Fairbanks. They also run a number of fun event trains.

Why Work in Alaska as a Tour Guide?

The season runs from early May to late September with possible required training sessions prior to the season.  As the hiring website for Princess and Holland America explains, most employees can expect to work 8 to 10 hours per day for 5 to 6 days per week.  Employees working with rail services typically work 15-hour days for shifts such as 2 days on and 1 day off or 4 days on followed by 2 days off.  The schedule is the same for the Wilderness Express train route.  Hours are long, but one former employee described her experience as "like camp" describing that days off were spent relaxing with other employees.  While on the job, you can expect to wear a uniform and interact with countless cruise ship tourists.  Being a "people person" is essential.  Both the Princess/Holland and Royal Celebrity websites offer testimonials from past employees - a good place to check out if you want to read more first-hand experiences.

Compensation and Costs

Starting pay for Princess/Holland is $10.34 an hour (Alaska's minimum wage as of Jan. 1, 2021), tips are plentiful, and overtime is available at time and a half for over 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. Princess also offers an employee referral program if you suggest a friend who is hired to work for the company.  Shared housing including meals is provided at all lodge locations (except for Fairbanks) for $16 per day.  The tour division does not offer housing in Anchorage and provides Seward employees with company housing similar to arrangements at the lodge.  Perhaps the best benefit is that employees receive sightseeing tours, lodge rooms, and cruises at reduced rates if space is available.  In fact, with the "employee cruise program," one is eligible to cruise at reduced rates (for as many cruises as you'd like) for up to a year after the season in which one worked.  In addition, if space is available employees may ride for free on the train between Denali and either Anchorage of (that can save you $100!).  Employees are required to pay for their transportation to Alaska, but Princess will make the arrangements and deduct the ticket cost from your paycheck if you'd like.  Royal Celebrity's wages are slightly higher: a prep cook starts at $12/hour, while a first-year onboard manager makes $15/hour.  On top of wages, employees are eligible for a bonus of 10% of gross wages upon completion of their contract.  No housing is provided for employees who are not “on tour,” but free housing is given when employees need to spend an overnight away while on duty.  Royal Celebrity also offers a discounted cruise program for its employees. 

Timeline and Tips

Luckily, applications are available online - usually beginning around November 1. The Holland America / Princess website allows you to apply for multiple locations and jobs at once. Jobs are posted each fall so apply early and to multiple positions so that you have options in case you don't get your first choice.  Check the calendar on the website where recruiting events throughout the country are listed. What a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with hiring managers and get a better sense of the positions available!

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