30 ships to call this year
Seven new ships are calling on Alaska this season, bringing the total number of large ships to 30.
New to this year’s Alaska market are Crystal Serenity (1,080 passengers), 8 voyages; Explorer of Seas (3,100), 17 voyages; Island Princess (1,992), 18 voyages; Maasdam (1,266), 9 voyages; Nieuw Amsterdam (2,100), 22 voyages; Seven Seas Mariner (700), 15 voyages; and Sun Princess (1,950), 1 voyage.
The Grand Princess is sailing the Golden Princess’ San Francisco itinerary. Explorer of the Seas replaces Jewel of the Seas. Island Princess is taking the Coral Princess’ Gulf of Alaska voyages. Noordam will take Oosterdam’s Gulf voyages. Nieuw Amsterdam is taking Noordam’s voyages. Coral Princess will take Grand Princess’ Gulf voyages. Maasdam replaces the Statendam. Le Soleal replaces L’Austral, 7 Seas Mariner replaces 7 Seas Navigator and the Pacific Princess leaves the Alaska trade for Panama and the Caribbean.
Two ports of call are getting new docks: a 400-foot, $24 million floating dock at Icy Strait Point and the first of Juneau’s two new panamax docks, each capable of handling a 1,000-foot ship.
Dutch Harbor is the first and last call of the year, the Crystal Serenity arrives April 23 and the Volendam leaves Oct. 5.
The ships are projected to bring 1,013,000 passengers to Alaska, compared to 2015 actuals of 976,400.
For many years, Alaska saw incredible growth. In fact, between the years 1997 and 2008, Alaska cruise visitors doubled, growing from 500,000 to more than 1 million. While the growth has calmed, cruise passengers now comprise 56 percent of Alaska summer visitors.
Beginning each May and continuing through September, CLIA Alaska member lines operate 30 large ships in Alaska waters.
Alaska itineraries consist primarily of two routes: round-trip through Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage, primarily from Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.; and cross-the-Gulf-of-Alaska trips, beginning or ending in Anchorage, primarily via the Southcentral Alaska port cities of Seward and Whittier. The average length of a cruise is seven days.