Holland America Westours will send five of its newest ships
north in 2001. The 55,451-ton, 1,266-passenger Statendam, Ryndam
and Veendam will sail a Gulf of Alaska route between Vancouver and
JUNEAU -- Next year, more than 600,000 people will make landfall in
Alaska. They will arrive aboard ships of every size, from the
smallest yacht carrying just 12 people to the newest megaships
carrying more than 2,000.
To help you and your clients make sense of the choices, here's a
rundown of all the options facing Alaska-bound cruise
The 63,000-ton, 1,440-passenger sisters Volendam and Zaandam and
the 53,872-ton, 1,494-passenger Westerdam cover a traditional
Inside Passage route roundtrip from Vancouver. Shorter three-day
and four-day Inside Passage cruises allow time for a land tour in
just eight days total.Princess Cruises brings four of its Grand Class sisters to
Alaska: the 77,000-ton, 1,950-passenger Sun Princess, Dawn
Princess, Sea Princess and Ocean Princess. All are deployed on
seven-day Gulf of Alaska cruises.
The newly refitted, 70,000-ton, 1,590-passenger Regal Princess
will sail seven-day Inside Passage cruises. Most cruise-tours
include a seven-day Gulf of Alaska cruise and Princess wilderness
lodges ashore. Cruise-tour combinations range from 11 to 15
days.Carnival will deploy its newest ship in Alaska: The 86,000-ton,
2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit.
Itineraries include a full season of seven-day Gulf of Alaska
cruises between Vancouver and Seward, plus two late-season,
seven-day Inside Passage cruises roundtrip from Vancouver.
Cruise-tours also are available with a land segment of the
Anchorage-Denali-Fairbanks corridor.Royal Caribbean has the 88,000-ton, 2,100-passenger Radiance of
the Seas and the 78,491-ton, 2,000-passenger sisters Rhapsody of
the Seas and Vision of the Seas on Inside Passage or Gulf of Alaska
Nine- to 13-day cruise-tours, new for 2001, feature a seven-day
gulf cruise aboard Rhapsody of the Seas. Destinations include
Alyeska, Anchorage, Denali, Talkeetna and Fairbanks.Celebrity Cruises introduces the 91,000-ton, 1,950-passenger
Infinity, which joins the 77,713-ton, 1,870-passenger Mercury on
Inside Passage or Gulf of Alaska sailings. The Mercury will offer
nine- to 13-day cruise tours in conjunction with its gulf sailings.
Destinations are the same as for Royal Caribbean.Returning for its second year of Inside Passage cruises out of
Seattle is Norwegian Cruise Line's 77,104-ton, 2,002-passenger
Norwegian Sky. The Sky remains the only big ship using Seattle as
its homeport for Alaska cruises, eliminating the three-hour bus
ride (each way) between Seattle-Tacoma airport and the Canada Place
cruise pier in Vancouver.
For those who don't mind the ride, NCL's other Alaskan cruise
ship, the 50,760-ton, 1,748-passenger Norwegian Wind, will sail
weekly from Vancouver.Radisson Seven Seas Cruises brings the world's first all-suite,
all-balcony ship, the 50,000-ton, 700-passenger Seven Seas Mariner,
to Alaska in 2001. The ship will sail on a series of seven- to
11-day cruises departing San Francisco, Vancouver and Seward.
Itineraries include Inside Passage or Gulf of Alaska
itineraries.Crystal Cruises has a series of eight 12-day cruises roundtrip
from San Francisco aboard the 49,400-ton, 940-passenger Crystal
Harmony. Most departures feature the Crystal Wine & Food
Festival, which presents guest chefs and wine experts, who give
demonstrations and create special menus.World Explorer Cruises has 14-day cruises from Vancouver aboard
the 23,500-ton, 731-passenger Universe Explorer. Four expert
speakers accompany each cruise. New for 2001 is a port call in
Kodiak.Cruise West has eight ships to choose from, including the
nostalgic Spirit of '98, the sleek Spirit of Endeavour and the
larger Spirit of Oceanus. Other Cruise West vessels include the
Spirit of Discovery, Spirit of Glacier Bay and Sheltered Seas.
No ship in the Cruise West fleet carries more than 114
passengers; the smallest holds only 52. Itineraries vary in length,
but all leave plenty of time for glacier viewing, whale-watching
and scouting for creatures along the coastline.Alaska's Glacier Bay Tours & Cruises has four small ships
to choose from.
Traditional port-to-port itineraries can be found aboard the
49-passenger Executive Explorer. Soft-adventure cruises are offered
aboard the 72-passenger Wilderness Adventurer.
Combination cruises, which incorporate port calls and kayaking
in one itinerary, are scheduled aboard the 88-passenger Wilderness
Discoverer. Active adventure cruises, geared toward the serious
outdoor enthusiast, are the specialty of the 34-passenger
Wilderness Explorer.Small-ship learning vacations have long been the forte of
Clipper Cruise Line and Lindblad Expeditions (formerly Special
Both lines staff their ships with a professional naturalist, who
leads Zodiac excursions and on-board discussions.
Clipper offers these eco-cruises aboard the 138-passenger
Yorktown Clipper and the 128-passenger Clipper Odyssey; Lindblad
has the 70-passenger Sea Bird and its identical twin, the Sea
Lion.American Safari Cruises gets even smaller: Its Safari Quest
carries 21 passengers, while the Safari Spirit holds just 12
guests. However, the ships have all-outside accommodations, some
with bathtubs or king-size beds. Off-ship activities include
kayaking and nature hikes.