An estimated 1.33 million cruise passengers visited Alaska during the 2019 season, according to the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA), and the state's cruise capacity was up approximately 14% for the year.
Current forecasts call for a 6% increase in cruise capacity in 2020.
ATIA leaders shared the numbers during the Alaska Media Road Show, which brought together tour operators, resort teams, destination representatives and travel journalists in Las Vegas late last month. The state's final 2019 passenger totals are expected later this year.
During the event and related follow-ups, several cruise companies shared new tours and offerings planned for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
• Alaskan Dream Cruises is adding three 2020 itineraries aboard its newest expedition ship, the 12-passenger Kruzof Explorer.
The company's 12-night Alaska's Grand Coastal Discovery itinerary will travel the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Glacier Bay and continue north into the Gulf of Alaska. Tours end in Yakutat, a fishing village known for its surfing opportunities. In addition to visiting small communities such as Metlakatla, Pelican and Kasaan, guests spend two days in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and view the Hubbard and Malaspina glaciers.
Stops on the nine-night Remote Alaska Adventure tour between Sitka and Ketchikan include the Alaska Native community of Klawock, remote Dall Island, Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm-Fjords Terror Wilderness.
Alaskan Dream Cruises' seven-night Ultimate Glacier Bay, Wilderness and Wildlife tour, a one-way outing between Sitka and Juneau, spends three days in Glacier Bay. Guests also visit West Chichagof Island, Pelican and the Margerie Glacier.
• Celebrity Cruises will operate Alaska tours on three ships in 2020, including the 2,158-passenger Celebrity Millennium, which is fresh off a 2019 renovation. Part of the company's fleet-wide Celebrity Revolution modernization effort, the redesign project updated stateroom and suite interiors, brought RFID lock technology with digital key access to all guestrooms; refurbished several restaurants and lounges; enhanced onboard spa, casino and art gallery offerings; and created a new sundeck and lounge for Suite Class guests.
Celebrity's Alaska itineraries each include Inside Passage cruising and a glacier visit; the company's land-sea tours put together accommodations, a rail experience and a visit to Denali.
• Cunard is planning a full Alaska season in 2020, offering 10 roundtrip excursions from Vancouver between June and September. Guests visit Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway and several glaciers aboard the Queen Elizabeth, with itineraries ranging from nine to 12 nights.
Cunard will also sail roundtrip Alaska tours from Victoria, British Colombia, in July and August 2020.
• Holland America Line's Koningsdam will sail an inaugural Alaska season in 2020, accommodating travelers on roundtrip, seven-day Inside Passage tours from Vancouver plus several Yukon and Denali land-sea itineraries. The Pinnacle-class Koningsdam has 13 decks, 12 restaurants, seven entertainment venues and two outdoor pools, including one with a sliding glass roof.
In 2020, 14-day Great Alaska Explorer In-Depth itineraries aboard Maasdam will feature cultural lectures, workshops, themed shore excursions and exclusive zodiac adventures that launch from the ship. The roundtrip journeys from Vancouver will stop in Homer and Valdez and include a new Inian Islands stop near Icy Strait Point.
• Maple Leaf Adventures debuts its Alaska Supervoyage with Canadian Geographic from August 2 to 12, 2020, tracing a 10-night, 11-day route from Sitka to Ketchikan.
A Royal Canadian Geographical Society ambassador and a local elder will join 10 guests and six crewmembers aboard the 88-foot Swell, a 1912 converted tugboat outfitted with cozy cabins and en suite bathrooms. The Alaska Supervoyage tour visits Wrangell Narrows, Petersburg, Frederick Sound, Admiralty Island and the off-grid community of Meyers Chuck.
• Princess Cruises will operate 11 Alaska cruise-only itineraries and 25 land-sea tours on eight ships in 2020, including a new 14-day Inside Passage roundtrip from Los Angeles on Golden Princess. On the company's new 17-night Ultimate Cruisetour, guests spend two nights at each of five Princess lodges in Alaska, in addition to exploring glaciers, wilderness areas and local communities.
Four Princess MedallionClass vessels will operate in Alaska next year, providing personalized passenger experiences through the use of smartphone apps, sensors and a wearable OceanMedallion disc with digital connectivity.
• UnCruise Adventures will offer 117 departures on seven Southeast Alaska itineraries in 2020, after kicking off its six-month sailing season in April. Five of the company's routes visit Glacier Bay National Park.
UnCruise is offering an early booking special of up to $1,200 off, per couple, on select departures confirmed before December 13. Discounts are available on week-long 2020 Alaska sailings aboard the company's Legacy, Wilderness Explorer and Wilderness Discoverer vessels.
In 2021, UnCruise will introduce a full season of Prince William Sound adventures departing from Whittier on the 22-passenger Safari Quest.
• Windstar Cruises' renovated Star Breeze will sail 22 journeys during its 2020 Alaska season that starts in mid-May. The 312-passenger ship features environmentally friendly engine updates, two new restaurants, a refreshed spa and fitness center, an elevated pool and 50 new suites, including the 1,374-square-foot Grand Owner's Suite.
The company will introduce its 11-day Alaska Glaciers & Prince William Sound itinerary in 2020, visiting Valdez, Petersburg, the Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord in northern Prince William Sound. Windstar is also finalizing plans for a 2020 Alaska culinary cruise featuring a James Beard Foundation chef who will participate in wine pairing dinners, cooking demonstrations, local market events and other activities.
In 2021, Windstar's new seven-day Scenic Alaska tour will spotlight Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau, plus Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm. The itinerary will also include the company's first-time Skagway stops.