Lines hitch their wagons to state By Rebecca Tobin / April 21, 2003 Share 1 -- ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Royal Caribbean International is offering 26 new Alaska shore excursions. Princess Cruises debuted 30 options. Crystal is touting "Alaska-size" savings on its Web site. Cruise lines have been heavily promoting their Alaska packages, and no wonder: There's a lot of competition up there this year.According to data released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), cruises to Alaska this year will number about 460, up 67% compared with last year."For 2003, we project growth will continue and capacity will increase 4% over last year," said Bob Sharak, executive director of CLIA. "The number of cruises to Alaska has been rising steadily." Nearly every major cruise line has capacity in the region, and several, including Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, ResidenSea and Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, have increased berths there.And while the war in Iraq continues to keep new bookings soft, operators have said Alaska could be this year's bright spot.Andy Stuart, NCL's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said Alaska bookings were going "reasonably well."Cruise lines have not yet started "severe discounting" to fill the ships, Stuart added."I think a number of people who would have gone to Europe have chosen Alaska this year," he said.Carnival Corp. vice chairman Howard Frank told analysts the company was expecting a high demand for Alaska cruises."We're trying to keep yields up in Alaska because we think people will book, even if they're not right now," he said.Carnival Corp. has two of its brands placed in Alaska: Carnival Cruise Lines with the Carnival Spirit, and major Alaska player Holland America Line, with a record eight vessels.If the merger with P&O Princess is completed this month as expected, Carnival Corp. will be adding six Alaska-based ships to its roster.Luxury operator Crystal Cruises, meanwhile, is promoting its 12-day, roundtrip San Francisco departures starting at $199 per day. Children under age 12 sail free.Major cruise lines with Alaska tonnage are trumpeting new 2003 land tours.The most recent announcements: Among Princess' new offerings is a Glacier Lake Kayak & Scenic Railway tour, a Stanley Park Kayaking Adventure and a Wrangell Lakes Canoeing trip, which Princess said is exclusive to the line.Royal Caribbean added, among other options, a Helicopter Glacier Walkabout on one of the Juneau Icefield glaciers and an Exclusive Guided Fishing and Wilderness Dining trip in Ketchikan.