It’s already the largest state in the Union. And every year,
Alaska gets bigger and more dynamic as a cruise destination. For
summer 2007, the lineup of Alaska-bound cruise lines numbers 12
brands comprising some 42 ships big and small. Together they offer
a variety of choices that includes new vessels, new port calls and
new shore tours.
For the second season in a row, Holland America Line deploys
eight ships to the region. Of special note is the debut of the
Vista-class Noordam IV on seven-day cruises roundtrip from Seattle.
It marks the first time a ship named Noordam has been in Alaska
since the Noordam III sailed the Inside Passage from 1984 to
As promised, Norwegian Cruise Line reinvigorates its Alaska
fleet with the introduction of one of its newest ships, the
Princess Cruises, always a big player in the Alaska market, gets
even bigger with a 12 percent increase in capacity, led by the
Alaskan debut of the Golden Princess. Altogether, Princess fields
eight ships in Alaska for 2007, including five vessels crossing the
Gulf between Vancouver and Whittier.
On the small-ship front, Cruise West introduces a new name to
Alaska cruising when the Yorktown Clipper is renamed the Spirit of
Yorktown. For years, this ship has been a fixture on Inside Passage
cruises from Juneau.
Meanwhile, the new Majestic America line will introduce the
48-passenger Contessa to Alaska. The renamed vessel was previously
known as Glacier Bay Cruise Line’s Executive Explorer. She’ll sail
seven-day cruises between Ketchikan and Sitka.
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises collectively
boast Alaska’s third-largest cruise fleet, numbering six vessels.
RCI offers three: Radiance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas and
Vision of the Seas, the latter with new port calls scheduled in
Alaska’s only historically styled paddlewheeler, the Empress of
the North, returns for a series of seven-night cruises roundtrip
from Juneau. New for 2007, the Empress becomes the first cruise
ship to enter the mouth of the Stikine River near Wrangell.
As for new port calls, Campbell River, a native community on
Vancouver Island, hopes to welcome its first big-ship cruise
passengers in spring 2007. Among Campbell River’s attractions is a
specially created native village meant to highlight the culture of
Canada’s First Nations people.
In Ketchikan, plans to improve docking facilities are moving
forward. A new pier is on schedule to receive calls in May,
according to Patti Mackey, executive director of the Ketchikan
Visitors Bureau. Meanwhile, a new, authentic steam-powered
sternwheeler begins history-themed tours of the Ketchikan area next
When it comes to active adventures in Alaska, zip-lines are “the
big thing,” says Lorene Palmer, president of the Juneau Convention
and Visitors Bureau. New zip lines have opened in Ketchikan and
Juneau. Another scheduled to open in Icy Strait Point is billed as
“the world’s longest zip line,” stretching 5,300 feet.
From Skagway, another new excursion takes cruise travelers to
Canada’s Yukon Territory for spectacular views from a unique
vantage point: the new Yukon Suspension Bridge. The bridge, which
opened in time for the 2006 season, spans the raging Tutshi river
and canyon, 57 feet above the rapids. Additionally, clients booking
selected Inside Passage cruise-tours with Holland America will
travel between Skagway and Carcross aboard the legendary White Pass
& Yukon Route narrow-gauge railway. Resumption of service on
this historic stretch of track was made possible by an $8 million
investment by the railroad.
In Fairbanks, the University of Alaska’s acclaimed Museum of the
North has a new wing and auditorium. The latter enthralls visitors
with a multi-media presentation on Alaska’s famed Northern Lights,
also known as the aurora borealis. New for 2007 is a presentation
depicting winter on The Last Frontier.
|ALASKA CRUISE LINES
American Safari Cruises
Carnival Cruise Lines
Clipper Cruise Line
Holland America Line
Majestic America Line
Norwegian Cruise Line
Regent Seven Seas Cruises