Holland America adds Anchorage, Alaska, to itinerary and will include 22 new shore excursions

Holland America Line will, for the first time in the line’s history, pay calls to Anchorage, Alaska.

A diverse line-up of shore excursions within the state’s largest city has been arranged. Highlights include: fly-in fishing expeditions to remote Alaska backcountry; a sled dog rodeo; flightseeing safaris through the Chugach Mountain Range and over Captain James Cook’s Turnagain Inlet in search of beluga whales; a Prince William Sound Glacier cruise; a full-day scenic ride aboard the historic Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna with the chance to view Mt. McKinley; a guided, fly-out bear-watching tour where guests can view Alaska black and brown bears in their natural habitat; and a visit to Wildberry Park and Anchorage Museum, home of many Native Alaskan art and artifacts as well as paintings by renowned Alaskan artist Sydney Laurence.

Alaskan Cruise regulations driving away cruise ships?

There are some strong words being spoken at this year’s Cruise Shipping Miami convention. Holland America CEO Stein Kruse has expressed his dissatisfaction with the mounting taxes, fees and regulations that Alaska is piling onto the cruise ships.

Holland America, based in Seattle, is warning the state that the cruise industry will continue to pull ships out of the region in the face of what Kruse is calling the the heaviest costs and regulations of any destination.

Some examples of these are:

  • A $46-a-person tax on cruisers
  • Taxes on shipboard casino earnings
  • New environmental regulations.

It has been said that in some ports a ship cannot take on fresh water because that fresh water supply from these Alaskan ports exceeds the maximum copper content for waste water in Alaskan cruise waters!

Many lines are removing ships from the Alaskan routes and it is forecasted that Alaska will see its first decline in cruise visitors in 30 years. Year over year, cruise travel is down 17%. Alaska Travel Industry Association president Ron Peck says 140,000 fewer visitors.

Despite the trouble the cruise lines are having with Alaska, the other side of the coin is that these regulations, fees and taxes are for the best interest of the State of Alaska and preserving its natural beauty. This tug-of-war between cruise line profits and environmental protection may be pulling at the travelers themselves.

The good news for potential cruise visitors is that “value” is the new industry mantra this year according to Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines. However, the 10 to 20 percent discounts of 2009 may be fading fast as the word at the Cruise Shipping Miami convention is that the industry will be sailing clear of the woes of the last two years by Fall and with it prices will climb back up.

We would recommend planning for your Alaskan Cruise soon to take advantage of current pricing and before the cost of compliance with new regulations begins to filter down to your ticket prices.