ALASKA’s cruise season may be over for another year, but America’s 49th state is on a high as figures show over one-million guests cruised through her scenic Inside Passage from May to October in 2015.
This represented a 3 per cent increase on the previous year, with a similar increase expected in 2016.
Alaska hosted its largest cruise ship ever in 2015 with Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess sailing there for the first time with 3,000 passengers on board, princess.com.au
Next year an even larger cruise ship Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, (3800 passengers), with all manner of on board activities, will sail north to Alaska after her 6-month season in Australian waters.
Alaska’s Tourist Office expects Explorer of the Seas will dock at all ports along the Inside Passage, apart from Ketchikan where she will anchor in the harbour and passengers will be tendered into port, royalcaribbean.com.au
As australiancruisingnews.com notes Alaska’s Inside Passage with its dazzling glaciers, plentiful wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes is just a snapshot of what the rest of the state offers.
On board a cruise ship many travellers realise this and resolve to return to Alaska to explore its vast inland wilderness, including Denali National Park for soaring scenery, to Fairbanks for the Northern Lights, and further north for the Arctic Circle.
Kyle McDonnell, of Alaska’s Major Marine Tours, says “Each city along the Inside Passage is so different and each has its own quirkiness. Take Juneau, it is the landlocked state capital, with the soaring Mendenhall glacier within easy reach. And the gold rush town of Skagway, where the main street looks as it did in the 18th century, and where travellers can ride the narrow-gauge White Pass Railroad.”
Kyle adds that one of the best kept secrets is Sitka – not always included in cruise ship itineraries – which still has an authentic Russian feel. It was here that Russian sealed the agreement to sell Alaska to the USA in 1867, majormarine.com