What’s New for Alaska Travelers in 2022 | national news

After a non-existent 2020 season and an abbreviated 2021 season, travel in Alaska is preparing at all levels for a return to normal. Cruise lines expect to be back with a full slate of sailings, bringing up to 1.5 million passengers to coastal communities in Alaska. Elsewhere, there are hotel events, anniversary celebrations and destination developments across the state.

All of this is subject to a few important caveats: Will COVID-19 force another withdrawal from travel operations? Will Transport Canada allow cruise ships into Canadian ports? Here’s a look at what’s new for Alaska in 2022, assuming all goes as planned.

Cruising currents

Princess Cruises is leading the charge with six Medallion-class ships, including Discovery Princess, the line’s newest ship and youngest to sail in Alaska. In total, Princess offers 12 cruise itineraries, 25 cruise options and a choice of four embarkation points, including Seattle, Vancouver, Whittier and San Francisco.

Norwegian Cruise Line is sending five ships to Alaska for the very first time: Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Spirit sail five- to 11-day cruises from Seattle, Seward and Vancouver. Longer repositioning cruises to start and end the season are also planned, such as 16-day voyages between Alaska and Hawaii or Japan.

Royal Caribbean International is hosting its first four-ship deployment to Alaska. Two Quantum-class ships – the Ovation of the Seas and the Quantum of the Seas – operate seven-day round-trip cruises from Seattle. Two Radiance-class ships – the Radiance of the Seas and the Serenade of the Seas – operate seven-day, one-way cruises in the Gulf of Alaska between Seward and Vancouver.

Carnival Cruise Line returns with three ships navigating the Inside Passage. Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor depart on six- to eight-day cruises from Seattle, while Carnival Miracle sails 10-day cruises from San Francisco.

Windstar Cruises introduces the newly transformed, all-suite Star Breeze on itineraries as short as seven days. The Star Breeze features an all-new look since its lengthening with new suites and expanded dining facilities, as well as an expanded pool and spa.

Expedition News

Hurtigruten is resuming expedition cruises to Alaska with a series of 14- and 18-day itineraries to the Aleutian Islands and Inside Passage. The Roald Amundsen remains the region’s only battery-powered hybrid vessel.

Lindblad Expeditions is adding two ships to its Alaskan fleet for a total of five ships. The National Geographic Sea Bird, Sea Lion, Quest, Venture and Orion will sail eight six- to 15-day itineraries exploring the Inside Passage and the Bering Sea.

American Queen Voyages (the new name for American Queen Steamboat Company, which includes Victory Cruise Lines) is launching expeditions to Alaska with 12- and 13-day voyages aboard the all-new Ocean Victory, one of a new generation of Expedition vessels feature an x-bow for comfort and spacious staterooms with private balconies. Rail tour extensions are available through Rocky Mountaineer.

Hotel developments

Alyeska Resort, located 40 miles south of Anchorage, plans to open Alaska’s first-ever Nordic spa. Facilities will include a variety of indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pools, steam rooms and saunas, as well as an on-site wellness bistro.

The Anchorage Marriott has undergone a top-to-bottom facelift, improving its public spaces, dining areas, and 392 guest rooms. The renovation was inspired by the beauty of the great outdoors of Alaska, which sits on the doorstep of the state’s largest city.

The Gustavus Inn at Glacier Bay is reopening under new Indigenous ownership by the Hoonah Indian Association and will once again serve as a base for visitors to experience Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

Glacier Bay Lodge reopens in May, offering the only overnight accommodation within the boundaries of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Activities include a day trip by boat on the park’s tidal glaciers or a visit to the Huna Tribal House, where Huna Tlingit guides share their ancestral connection to the land.

birthday celebrations

John Hall’s Alaska celebrates 40 years of bringing visitors to Alaska with an expanded lineup of itineraries. The family business specializes in fully guided and inclusive cruises and tours and is Adventure Green certified for its environmental responsibility.

The Iditarod Sled Dog Race gets underway for the 50th time March 5 in Anchorage on its traditional course after an abbreviated course last year. The winner will cross the finish line around two weeks later in Nome – a historic journey of around 1,000 miles.

Holland America Line is commemorating 75 years of bringing travelers to Alaska – longer than any other cruise line – with special programming aboard six ships. Three, four or seven day cruises can be combined with land options as far away as the Canadian Yukon for a total of 16 different land and sea voyages.

Destination Notes

Icy Strait Point opens its Mountain Top Gondola at the new Wilderness Landing resort, leading to hiking trails and scenic overlooks. It will be the second high-speed gondola in Alaska, joining the destination transportation gondola that went into service in 2021.

Whittier welcomes two new Holland America Line ships, the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Noordam, calling from June to September. HAL joins sister line Princess in using Whittier as the northern terminus for its Gulf of Alaska cruises.

Travel Juneau and UnCruise Adventures have teamed up to promote Juneau’s “Ironman” triathlon competition on August 7th. UnCruise will be the exclusive small ship partner for the event, offering a 12-night VIP adventure cruise after the Inside Passage Race and Glacier Bay.

The new Ward Cove docking facility in Ketchikan, north of town, will be in full swing after a soft opening last year. Ships from Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International are among those scheduled to call.

Sitka is anticipating a wave of cruise passengers thanks to its new 40,000 square foot cruise terminal. The first call is scheduled for May 2 during the visit of Radiance of the Seas. The terminal has a restaurant, a tap room with locally brewed beer, local retail stores and a staging area for shore excursions.

Fairbanks expects a surge in arrivals as cruise passengers, who make up 41% of its summer visitors, return after an extended absence. Nearly 250,000 cruise passengers took the train to Fairbanks in 2019. That number has dropped to zero in the past two years.

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