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Sep 16

Alaska Cruise Guide for 2015 | Travel Agent Central

By Susan Young

Exploring North America’s last frontier, Alaska, remains a “bucket list” item for many travelers. Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) annual State of the Cruise Industry released earlier this year revealed that 4.5 percent of all global itineraries visit the 49th state. While some Alaska ports are farther distance-wise than some destinations that cruisers can reach from U.S. ports and the voyages are usually pricier than cruises to theBahamas and Caribbean, the experience is unforgettable with dramatic natural beauty. Here’s a sampling of 2015 Alaska cruise action.

Contemporary Cruises

More balcony and oceanview staterooms await Alaska guests booked on Royal Caribbean International next summer as the line will operate two Radiance-class vessels. Radiance of the Seas will alternate northbound and southbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruises, both seven-night itineraries from Vancouver, B.C., and Seward, AK, respectively. The ship will cruise the Inside Passage, visit Hubbard Glacier and call at Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Skagway in Alaska.

On September 4, 2015, Radiance of the Seas also will sail a seven-night round-trip itinerary from Vancouver that includes cruising at Tracy Arm Fjord and calls at Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan. In addition, Jewel of the Seas will sail seven-night round-trip itineraries from Seattle, cruising the Alaska Inside Passage and Tracy Arm Fjord to Sawyer Glacier; these call at Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, B.C.

Clients seeking a more immersive Alaska vacation? Royal Caribbean cruise tours combine aRadiance of the Seas sailing with a three- to six-night fully escorted tour that spends at least one night in Denali National Park and one leg on the Wilderness Express, comprised of glass-domed train cars. Vacationers also might combine a Radiance of the Seas or Jewel of the Seas Alaska cruise with one of four pre- or post-cruise land tours of the Canadian Rockies and Canada’s Okanagan Wine Valley. A 19-night “Ultimate Cruise Tour” includes aRadiance cruise plus Alaska and Canada land touring.

Norwegian Cruise Line will operate three ships in Alaska—Norwegian Pearl andNorwegian Jewel roundtrip from Seattle and Norwegian Sun on one-way voyages between Vancouver and Seward. Departing Saturdays, Norwegian Jewel will sail seven-day Sawyer Glacier cruises from Seattle. Departing Sundays, Norwegian Pearl will sail seven-day Glacier Bay itineraries. Both itineraries feature stops in Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway, Alaska; and Victoria.

If clients desire a lengthier trip, Norwegian Jewel will sail one nine-day Glacier Bay itinerary on May 7; it will visit Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Icy Strait Point, along with Victoria.Norwegian Pearl also will offer a 10-day Glacier Bay itinerary from Vancouver to Seattle on May 7, with calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point and Sitka, AK, and Victoria. Departing Mondays throughout the season, Norwegian Sun will sail seven-day cruises between Vancouver and Seward. These “open jaw” sailings will give guests a chance to add on a pre- or post-cruise Alaska land tour. From Vancouver, the ship will cruise to Glacier Bay and the Hubbard Glacier as well as call at Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau, AK. From Seward, the ship will cruise the Inside Passage, visit Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier, and call at Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Icy Strait Point.

In addition, Norwegian Sun will operate three seven-day roundtrip cruises from Vancouver plus one 10-day Glacier Bay itinerary roundtrip from Vancouver on May 8; on the latter, the ship calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Victoria.

Carnival Legend will also operate a special one-time Glacier Bay voyage from Vancouver on May 18, disembarking in Seattle on May 26. Shore options include helicopter flightseeing, rainforest canopy tours, and hiking, canoeing and kayaking expeditions.Following its Australia inaugural season, Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Legend will head for Alaska and operate 16 week-long voyages, each with an onboard naturalist to educate guests about eco-sites and wildlife. The cruises sail from Seattle on Tuesday, with port calls at SkagwayJuneauKetchikan and Victoria and sail to either Tracy Arm Fjord or Glacier Bay.

Premium or Upper Premium

With seven ships in Alaska next year, Princess Cruises has a robust schedule of land-sea options. Ruby Princess and Crown Princess will sail roundtrip Inside Passage cruises from Seattle. The popular “Voyage of the Glaciers” route between Vancouver and Whittier will be operated by Coral PrincessGrand PrincessPacific Princess and Star Princess.

Golden Princess will sail roundtrip to Alaska from San Francisco. The line’s robust land-and-sea packages include interior Alaska as well as two new Canadian Rockies tour options for 2015.

Another line with a strong “Great Land” presence is Holland America Line with seven ships sailing 124 departures. From Seattle, the line will operate seven- and 14-day, roundtrip “Alaskan Explorer” cruises that call at Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Victoria, BC. On those sailings, Westerdam also will visit Glacier Bay National Park, Amsterdam will visit Tracy Arm, and Statendam will sail to Tracy Arm, Icy Strait Point, Homer, Kodiak and Hubbard Glacier.

New for 2015, Noordam will sail from Vancouver as will Volendam and Oosterdam. Seven-day roundtrips will call at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and cruise the Inside Passage. All three ships have a Tracy Arm service call for shore excursions. Also new, Zaandam will sail the Gulf of Alaska between Vancouver and Seward. Oosterdam will also sail that route, which includes Glacier Bay.

In 2015, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder will sail seven-nights from Vancouver to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. Departures are weekly, June 1 through Aug. 31. Competitor Celebrity Cruises will position three ships—MillenniumInfinity and Solstice—in Alaska and, for the first time, call at Haines.

Upper premium Oceania Cruises will return the 684-passenger Regatta to “the Great Frontier.” Most voyages are of the 10-night variety, with Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway calls along with less-visited Haines, Wrangell, Sitka and Hoonah stops. On many sailings, guests can add a “Discover Denali” land experience that includes a scenic train trip in a deluxe domed railcar, a welcome reception with Denali lecture and a tundra wilderness tour on which guests might spot moose, caribou, brown bears and 160+ species of birds.

Alaska Cruise Guide for 2015 | Travel Agent Central.