- Özgür Töre
Alaska's cruise season is off to a busy start and it is projected to again be a record-breaking year. Around 1.3 million cruise passengers are expected this summer.
Cruising continues to be one of the most popular methods of transportation into the state and Cruise Lines International Association Alaska is projecting a 25 percent growth in cruise passengers. Forty ships on 577 voyages are expected to cruise through Alaska this year. A global demand for Alaska cruises remains high and Alaska will continue to see new cruise lines and larger vessels deployed in the state. Below is a roundup of what's new for visitors cruising in the Last Frontier:
- Princess Cruises marks its 50th anniversary in 2019 and will offer guests numerous opportunities for land-based excursions. It recently opened a new saloon at its Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge that draws inspiration from famed Alaska pioneer Fannie “Q” Quigley.
- Cunard returns to Alaska for the first time in 20 years and is offering six different ports for its passengers to explore.
- Viking Cruises' Viking Spirit is sailing in Alaska for the first time ever. It is offering opportunities to venture into eight different ports and explore Alaska's history.
- Royal Caribbean debuted its Ovation of the Seas quantum-class ship in Alaska in 2019. The quantum-class ships are the third largest class of cruise ships in existence. In 2020, Royal Caribbean will add two more cruise ships, the Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas.
- American Cruise Lines added a third Alaska itinerary on its new small ship, American Constellation, for the 2019-2020 season. The 11-day Alaska Explorers Cruise is a round-trip excursion from Juneau that highlights Mendenhall Glacier, the history of the Klondike Gold Rush in Skagway as well as nature and wildlife viewing in Glacier Bay.
- Disney Wonder will return to Alaska for the summer season with a variety of itineraries departing from Vancouver with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier and Endicott Arm, Alaska; and Victoria, Canada.
- Windstar Cruises has 23 departure dates to the Last Frontier, including a new James Beard Foundation culinary cruise and a new shore excursion designed to explore food, art and active wildlife.
- Alaskan Dream Cruises, a small-ship cruise company based in Alaska, introduced a new vessel, the Kruzof Explorer. A Bering Sea crab fishing boat in its first life, the converted, 128-foot, 12-guest expedition vessel will sail some of the most remote areas of the Inside Passage. Its 2019 10-day “Alaska's Remote Wilderness Expedition” itineraries will explore the length of Southeast Alaska from Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve to the Alaska Native village of Metlakatla, either starting or ending in Alaskan Dream Cruise's hometown of Sitka.
- The National Geographic Venture will be cruising in Alaska for the first time, bringing Lindblad's fleet up to four. Lindblad also has a new six-day Alaska itinerary the Wild Alaska Escape: Juneau to Ketchikan.
- In 2019, Holland America Line is offering 13 options that highlight the best of Alaska's wilderness, wildlife, Alaska Native culture and history. The options range from 10 to 20 days with cruise-first or land-first choices. Holland also added to its collection of culinary-themed FOOD & WINE shore excursions where guests take hands-on cooking classes, go on culinary walking tours, sample street food and explore local hideaways.