Carnival Corporation just made a big investment in Alaska travel. Through its subsidiary, Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the cruise company has entered into a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the White Pass & Yukon Route rail division of TWC Enterprises, which includes White Pass’ port, railroad and retail operations in Skagway, Alaska. The transaction is scheduled to close on July 31, 2018, subject to customary closing conditions, Carnival Corp. said.
Holland America Princess Alaska Tours has also executed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to make Survey Point Holdings, Inc, an Alaskan company based in Ketchikan, the managing partner of the port, White Pass Scenic Railway and the associated retail operations acquired from TWC. The MOU is subject to review and approval.
Carnival Corp. says that the agreements will allow it to expand Skagway’s docking facilities to accommodate the newest generation of cruise ships, among other investments. Survey Point will continue managing WP&YR’s day-to-day terminal operations and customer relations.
When asked about the possibility of additional cruise tour offerings or excursions using the railway, a Carnival Corp. representative told Travel Agent that it is "a little too early" to discuss specifics, although additional details will be forthcoming in the future.
"We can say that we are committed to making sure Skagway and the region continues to be a thriving and welcoming port of call and shore excursion destination," the spokesperson said.
The White Pass & Yukon Route provides rail excursions for cruise travelers between Skagway and Whitehorse, the capital of the historic Yukon territory. The purchase by Carnival Corp. comes as Alaska is expecting another strong season for cruise travel -- this year, CLIA Alaska is projecting 7 percent growth over last year, which was already a record-setter.
Carnival Corp. offers Alaska cruises across a number of its cruise brands, including Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. Both brands offer a number of options to combine an Alaska cruise with a land tour, including stays at wilderness lodges. This season, Princess is debuting a new treehouse at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge in Denali National Park, which will offer a destination for hikes and space for talks by local experts. Also in Denali, this year Holland America has debuted a new Denali Square complex at the McKinley Chalet Resort, which serves as an area for guests to gather during their stay at the property and check out a new restaurant with views of the mountain, an amphitheater for lectures and shows, and an artist-in-residence cabin.