|Kayak excursions are just one of many offvessel activities available on Alaska cruises.|
While much has been made of fewer cruise ships plying Alaska waters this year, there’s still plenty of 2011 Alaska products to sell. In the interest of space, we’ll focus here only on the mid- to big-ship premium lines. What’s planned?
New for 2011, Oceania Cruises’ 684-guest Regatta will operate four Alaska itineraries. A 14-day Majestic Alaska itinerary sails roundtrip from San Francisco and calls at Astoria, OR; Victoria and Vancouver, BC; and Sitka, Hoonah, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, AK. Alaska Grandeur voyages will sail for 12 days between San Francisco and Vancouver, with calls at Astoria and Victoria, and Alaska’s Wrangell, Juneau, Hoonah, Sitka and Ketchikan.
New 10-day roundtrip Frontiers and Glaciers cruise from Vancouver calls at Sitka, Hoonah, Kodiak, Wrangell and Ketchikan. Finally, the 12-day Glacial Wilderness itineraries sail between Vancouver and Anchorage with calls at Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Hoonah, Skagway, Sitka, Seward and Homer.
Oceania arranges for pre-cruise or post-cruise stays at such properties as Vancouver’s Sutton Place Hotel, The Fairmont Vancouver, The Anchorage Hilton and The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco.
Also new are Disney Cruise Line’s seven-night Alaska sailings aboard Disney Wonder in summer 2011. The ship will sail roundtrip from Vancouver to Tracy Arm, Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.
Atop Deck 10, a 2,500-square-foot Outlook Café has been added so guests may enjoy a beverage as they peer through floor-to-ceiling, curved glass windows at Alaska’s spectacular vistas. Disney also offers post-cruise stays at the Fairmont Hotels in Vancouver (see story on page 74).
Celebrity Cruises has unveiled a lineup of itineraries and an 18-night cruisetour package. Celebrity Century will sail in Alaska on seven-night Hubbard Glacier cruises; the ship has 73 percent more Veranda and Concierge Class staterooms than Celebrity Mercury, which previously sailed in Alaska. Sailing roundtrip from Vancouver, cruises will call at Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, and visit the Hubbard Glacier.
In addition, Celebrity Infinity’s seven-night Tracy Arm Fjord cruises roundtrip from Seattle and will call at Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. The ship will also sail two 10-night Ultimate Alaska voyages roundtrip from Seattle. Celebrity Millennium will be setting out for seven-night, one-way cruises between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska; visiting Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway, and cruising by the Hubbard Glacier.
Celebrity’s 21 Alaska cruisetours include a new 18-night Ultimate Cruisetour—Canadian Rockies & Alaska package for those sailing on Celebrity Millennium. Among these are a six-night, pre-cruise Canadian Rockies tour, a seven-night northbound Alaska cruise and a five-night post-cruise Alaska land tour. Some of the highlights are rail travel through the Rockies, accommodations at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress and a two-night stay at Denali.
Celebrity cruisetours come with hotel accommodations, baggage transfer transport and some meals. Tour directors travel with guests on glass-domed Wilderness Express railcars and deluxe motorcoaches.
Alaska-bound travelers may choose from four cruise itineraries of seven to 14 days with Holland America Line in 2011. Seven ships will offer 125 departures, many visiting Glacier Bay. The line’s 14-day Explorer voyages on Amsterdam sail roundtrip from Seattle on Fridays with Tracy Arm and Hubbard Glacier scenic cruising and calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, Sitka and, for the first time since 2007, Icy Strait Point.
The line will also operate seven-day cruises, both roundtrip from Seattle and Vancouver and one-way between Vancouver and Seward. The week-long roundtrip itineraries from Seattle will be available on Westerdam on Saturdays and Oosterdam on Sundays, increasing Verandah stateroom availability by 25 percent. The Westerdam cruises to Hubbard Glacier, while Glacier Bay scenic cruising is available on Oosterdam. Ports include Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC. In addition, Amsterdam also sails a seven-night itinerary on September 16.
Departing on Sundays, the Zaandam and the Statendam will sail the one-way, seven-day Glacier Discovery itinerary between Vancouver and Seward. That raises Verandah stateroom capacity by nearly a third. Northbound, the ships will call at Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway; southbound, they’ll visit Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan. They’ll also cruise Glacier Bay and College Fjord.
The Zuiderdam and Volendam also will set sail on the seven-day “Inside Passage” roundtrip itinerary from Vancouver on Saturdays and Wednesdays, respectively. The Zaandam also has a Sunday sailing on September 18. The ships cruise Tracy Arm fjord, spend a full day exploring Glacier Bay, and call at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
Holland America’s cruisetours feature 31 itineraries ranging from 10 to 20 days. All include an Inside Passage sailing and many come with two days in Denali National Park. Tours may visit such spots as Glacier Bay, the Kenai Peninsula and Canada’s Yukon Territory, allowing clients to explore Klondike Gold Rush heritage and such scenic wonders as Kluane National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Holland America guests tour by domed McKinley Explorer railcars, custom-built motorcoaches and, at times, on the Yukon Queen II river vessel. Itineraries include stays at Westmark Hotels.
Princess Cruises will deploy six ships for Gulf of Alaska and Inside Passage sailings during summer 2011, down one ship from 2010. Princess’ season spans 104 departures on three itineraries of seven to 10 days.
Diamond Princess, Coral Princess and Island Princess will sail a Voyage of the Glaciers route through the Gulf of Alaska between Vancouver and Whittier (for Anchorage). Calls include Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway with daylight cruising in Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord or Hubbard Glacier. Diamond Princess and Coral Princess sail on Saturdays while Island Princess now has Wednesday departures.
The line’s cruisetours combine a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise with three to eight extra nights on land exploring Alaska’s interior; some are family cruisetours—with “mushing” at Iditarod Headquarters, gold panning, a Denali tour and a campfire experience.
For 2011, Princess will operate four prime types of cruisetours. The Denali Explorer cruisetour comes with multiple nights at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and/or Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, and rail service between the Whittier cruise terminal and the Denali National Park area. Most tours also allow guests the option of exploring Fairbanks or Anchorage.
On Your Own cruisetours are flexible, affordable and designed for independent-minded travelers; no pre-set excursions are included. Off the Beaten Path cruisetours take guests to Denali and beyond. Guests may choose to travel to the Kenai Peninsula with stays at Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge or Wrangell-St. Elias National Park with stays at Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge. They may also venture to the Arctic Circle and Prudhoe Bay.
Connoisseur cruisetours include the services of a professional tour guide, most meals and enhanced sightseeing. All cruisetours come with stays at Princess’ wilderness lodges and rail or motorcoach travel. Tours allow at least two nights in Denali National Park.
One cruise-only option is a seven-day Golden Princess or Sapphire Princess Inside Passage sailing roundtrip from Seattle to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, BC. Golden Princess will sail through Glacier Bay while Sapphire Princess features Tracy Arm. Sea Princess will also sail 10-day roundtrip Inside Passage voyages from San Francisco.