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Cruising the Last FrontierFebruary 26, 2007 By: David Eisen Travel Agent
A recap of what cruise lines are doing in Alaska this year
By now, most of Middle America, the northeast and even portions of the west coast have felt the sting of cold and blustery winter weather, which probably doesn't make most people think about taking a cruise in Alaska. Yet now is a good time to book, as ships will fill up closer to the beginning of the season, which begins in May and runs through September. Most Alaskan cruises follow the same ports such as Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. It's important for agents to play up Alaskan shore excursions, as they are a huge selling point. Most lines concentrate on creating memorable excursions such as dogsledding and gold rush tours. Here is a run down of cruise line operations this year in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Carnival Cruise Lines: The Carnival Spirit
began Alaskan cruising in 2001 and remains Carnival's flagship in
that it will keep the Spirit in
at least through 2008. The 2,124-guest ship is ideal for Alaskan waters, with
its high percentage of ocean-view and balconied staterooms, multiple indoor and
outdoor vantage points of the spectacular Alaskan topography and an enclosable
pool. The Spirit also offers Alaskan delicacies in its formal dining
rooms, including fresh fish purchased at the various ports of call. Carnival
offers seven-day Glacier Bay itineraries and seven-day northbound and
southbound Alaskan voyages, leaving from
respectively. Cruises begin May 9, leaving every Wednesday thereafter.
Royal Caribbean: Royal Caribbean has three ships in
the Seas, Vision of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas. Radiance
and Serenade are particularly suited for
paneling, which allows optimal viewing points. RCCL mainly does seven-night
cruises, but does have nine-, 13- and 14-night cruises, the latter originating
inside room on a seven-night cruise, but move up well past $1,000 for a suite.
Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL does two different
itineraries, a Sawyer Glacier program and
program. Both are seven-day affairs conducted on four ships: Norwegian Star,
Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Wind and Norwegian Pearl. The Sawyer
Glacier itineraries are all round trip from either Seattle or Vancouver, while
Glacier Bay is round trip from
only. NCL's freestyle cruising allows flexibility when selecting shore
Princess Cruises: Princess has one of the most
programs. So much so that it offers two separate cruise programs: Voyage of the
provides seven-day cruises between Vancouver and Whittier, while Inside Passage
does seven- and 10-day itineraries from
Princess' array of ships in the region give guests even more choice with ships
ranging in size from 670 passengers to 2,670 passengers. In all, Princess will
operate its largest Alaskan fleet ever this year with eight ships consigned to
the region. New this year are mid-week departures aboard Pacific Princess.
cruising, operating eight ships in the region. HAL has popular Alaskan Explorer
Cruises on the
and Oosterdam, which depart from
and sail to such renowned spots as
All cruises are seven days in length.
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity offers seven-night
cruises aboard the Infinity, Mercury and
cruises and one 14-day cruise, dubbed the "ultimate
on September 14, before ending in
Luxury Lines: Both Silversea and Regent run
each considerably more expensive than the above-mentioned lines. Regent does 15
seven-night voyages between
and one 11-night voyage departing from
Prices begin around $3,500. Regent does offer complimentary economy-class air
tickets and ship credits of $250 per suite. Meanwhile, Silversea has 11 nine-,
10- and 12-night Alaska trips aboard the Silver Shadow, with departures
from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Seward. Prices begin well over
$5,000 and can reach more than $20,000 for an owner's suite.