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Alaska is celebrating a near-perfect-storm convergence of anniversaries this year, and Cruise Lines International Association has forecast a record-breaking season: The state expects 1.06 million cruise passengers this year, up from its record 1.03 million cruise passengers in 2008.
The state’s landmark celebrations range from noting the century mark for Denali National Park & Preserve to the 150-year commemoration of Alaska’s purchase from Russia.
Cruising typically represents half of Alaska tourism, and cruise lines continue to add more and larger ships to their Alaska routes, as well as to enrich their existing itineraries.
Here are a few of the latest announcements from the major players.
Alaskan Dream CruisesThe line is enhancing its seven-night True Alaskan Family Cruises in 2017 with a second day of exploration in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. Guests can extend their cruises with land packages into south-central and interior Alaska through a new partnership with tour and cruise operator John Hall’s Alaska, including a seven-day Denali Explorer tour or eight-day Grand Slam Alaska tour.
Carnival Cruise LineIn September, Carnival Miracle will sail on a 14-day Carnival Journey roundtrip from Long Beach, Calif., with the line’s first call at Alaska Native-owned Icy Strait Point; Alaskan cuisine and local cultural groups will be onboard. In addition, Carnival Legend will operate 38 seven- and eight-day Alaska cruises in 2017 and 2018 between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Crystal CruisesCrystal Cruises’ historic 32-day sailing through the Northwest Passage on its 1,070-guest Crystal Serenity — the world’s largest cruise ship to navigate the Arctic region — will be repeated Aug. 15, departing from Anchorage, Alaska. Serenity also offers seven- and 10-day cruises between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage, or roundtrip from Vancouver.
Holland America Line Holland America Line is redeploying its 1,916-passenger Oosterdam to Alaska from Europe this year, bringing its total of vessels in the region to seven, sailing 135 departures from May through September. 2017 marks Holland America’s 70th year cruising Alaska.
Lindblad Expeditions-National GeographicLindblad Expeditions-National Geographic will launch the 100-passenger newbuild coastal ship National Geographic Quest on June 26. It will offer two 13-day Treasures of the Inside Passage: Alaska and British Columbia expeditions, as well as multiple eight-day Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness cruises this year, along with two new itineraries on National Geographic Sea Bird: the six-day active adventure Wild Alaska Escape and the 11-day photo expedition Big Picture Alaska.
Norwegian Cruise Line In 2018, Norwegian Cruise Line will launch its 4,000-passenger vessel, Norwegian Bliss, custom built with features and amenities designed for the Alaska cruise experience. Bliss will debut in Seattle, where Norwegian pioneered Alaska cruising in 2000, and offer weeklong sailings.
Princess CruisesAlso in 2018, Princess Cruises will increase its capacity by 15 percent, claiming the greatest number of passengers of any cruise line. The line will offer 130 departures on seven ships, cruising from Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as Whittier, Alaska, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Emerald Princess and Golden Princess will introduce a 12-day roundtrip itinerary from Los Angeles.
Royal Caribbean InternationalRoyal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas sails seven-night itineraries roundtrip from Seattle; and Radiance of the Seas sails seven-night itineraries between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seward, Alaska. New for 2017 are two 12-night cruise-tours: the Kantishna Select Wilderness and Wildlife and the Katmai Bear Trek & Kantishna Fly Over.
Seabourn Cruise LineSeabourn Cruise Line sails in Alaska for the first time in 15 years starting in June, with Seabourn Sojourn embarking on 11-, 12- and 14-day itineraries from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage.
UnCruise AdventuresUnCruise Adventures will launch three wellness-themed cruises this spring and add a half-day visit to the Tlingit village of Kake as part of its Inner Reaches Western Coves Ketchikan-to-Juneau itinerary. From April through September, the line will offer 11 adventure cruise itineraries on 157 departures that last from one week to 12 days. Back-to-back cruises can create sailings up to three weeks long on the same vessel.
Viking Ocean CruisesViking Ocean Cruises is planning its 2019 debut in Alaska on Viking Spirit, sailing 11-day itineraries between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seward from May through August 2019.
Windstar CruisesWindstar Cruises is coming to Alaska in 2018 with 11- to 14-day cruises on its 212-guest Star Legend between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seward, Alaska, or roundtrip from Vancouver. It will take travelers to unusual ports such as Metlakatla, Alaska, on Annette Island, the only U.S. settlement of the indigenous Tsimshian people.