Alaska reaps benefit of cruise redeployments

NEW YORK -- Although the Caribbean has emerged as the primary beneficiary of the widespread cruise-ship redeployments in the wake of Sept. 11, Alaska also is seeing increased traffic. Several suppliers have removed vessels from Europe and other regions to reposition their ships in the state for the summer.

Among them is Holland America Line, which is basing its newest ship, the 1,380-passenger Amsterdam, in Seattle next summer for a series of 19 seven-day Alaska cruises. "As we address the global travel climate and the expectation that travelers will focus domestically, HAL decided to bring its flagship home," said David Giersdorf, senior vice president of marketing and sales. HAL's deployment of the Amsterdam in Seattle also is a coup for that city.

Cruise passengers take in Alaska's magnificent scenery.After years of watching the largest cruise lines bypass Seattle to make Vancouver the main home port for Alaska-bound vessels, the cruise industry's aggressive fleet-expansion programs, in addition to its post-Sept. 11 redeployments, have led more lines to base ships in the Emerald City.

The Amsterdam will depart Saturdays between May 18 and Sept. 21, making stops at Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, British Columbia. Fares start at $1,299 per person, including port charges.

Three of HAL's Alaska-bound ships -- the Ryndam, Volendam and Zaandam -- will sail on the company's Glacier Bay Inside Passage itinerary, departing roundtrip from Vancouver and visiting Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, with a day of cruising in Glacier Bay. Passengers who book prior to Feb. 28 are eligible for 25% savings. With the discount, fares for the Glacier Bay itinerary start at $1,249 per person.

In all, HAL will have six ships sailing Alaska's waters in 2002, offering 115 separate cruises departing from Seattle, Seward and Vancouver. The line also will offer 36 seven-day Glacier Discovery sailings between Vancouver and Seward, departing May 12 through Sept. 15.

One northbound route calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka and includes cruising at Hubbard Glacier. The other northbound itinerary calls at Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka, with sailing in Glacier Bay and College Fjord. The southbound programs offer the same routes in reverse.

Princess Cruises will debut a new ship, the 2,600-passenger Star Princess, in the 49th state, offering seven-night Voyage of the Glaciers cruises between Vancouver and Seward. The Star will be joined on that route by the 1,950-passenger vessels Dawn Princess, Ocean Princess and Sun Princess. A fifth ship, the Sea Princess, will sail a seven-day Inside Passage route departing roundtrip from Vancouver.

Several lines are redeploying ships to Alaska next summer as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks. Rates for the seven-day trips start at $999 per person under Princess' Love Boat Savers advance-purchase program. Princess added a sixth ship to its Alaska fleet for 2002. The 1,590-passenger Regal Princess will offer 10-day cruises departing roundtrip from San Francisco beginning May 29. The series runs through Sept. 6 and calls at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria.

Princess also offers 56 different land-tour itineraries in conjunction with its cruise programs, the newest of which are 11 tours featuring stays at the company's Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge, which will open near Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in the summer.

Premium operator Celebrity Cruises is redeploying one of two ships originally scheduled to cruise in Europe to Alaska. The 1,870-passenger Mercury, previously slated to offer Baltic and Mediterranean cruises from Copenhagen, Denmark, and Barcelona, Spain, will instead begin seven-day Alaska cruises from Vancouver from late May through September.

Among luxury operators, Crystal Cruises will offer a series of sailings visiting the state. The 940-passenger Crystal Harmony will offer six 12-day Alaska cruises departing roundtrip from San Francisco on July 4, 16 and 28; Aug. 9 and 21, and Sept. 2. The vessel also will run a 10-day Alaska sailing from San Francisco to Vancouver departing Sept. 14.

Seabourn Cruise Line revised its 2002 schedule to bring the 212-passenger Seabourn Spirit to Alaska in May. The ship will spend the bulk of the season on 10- and 11-day voyages departing roundtrip from Vancouver. Seabourn has not sailed in Alaska since 1997, according to company officials, but repositioned from Asia to Alaska this season in deference to North Americans' desire for close-to-home itineraries.

Ports of call along the 10-day Alaskan Spirit route include Victoria, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka and Ketchikan, with sailing in the waterways of the Inside Passage, Misty Fjords and Tracy Arm. The 11-day version, the Alaskan Vistas route, adds Alert Bay, British Columbia. Advance-purchase fares start at $4,379 per person.

Spirit also will offer two 10-day Grand Alaska cruises sailing between Seward and Vancouver. The May 12 departure calls at Sitka, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Alert Bay. The Aug. 14 voyage features the same itinerary in reverse. Early-booking fares start at $4,379 per person.

Small-ship operator Cruise West is offering five separate itineraries that sail entirely within Alaskan waters, according to company officials. These include an eight-day Secluded Waterways cruise/tour that sails between Juneau and Ketchikan and calls at Skagway, Haines, Petersburg, Sitka and Metlakatla. The voyages also visit Misty Fjords, Tracy Arm, Frederick Sound, Wrangell Narrows and Glacier Bay. A pre- or post-cruise over-night stay in Juneau is included. Rates start at $2,949 per person.

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