Alaska’s tourism industry is set to continue to grow in 2014, with a total of 30 large cruise ships scheduled to call in Alaska, an increase in itineraries for small-ship cruise lines and increased international and domestic flight service to the “Last Frontier,” according to the Alaska Travel News Bulletin.
Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess will make its debut as the cruise line’s largest ship in the state to date, accommodating up to 3,082 passengers and sailing cruises through the Gulf of Alaska. Summer 2014 will also see the return of Princess Cruises’ small-ship cruising on the Pacific Princess, which will sail the Inside Passage from Vancouver. Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruises will add Icy Strait Point, a small-ship cruise port located 30 miles west of Juneau, as a port of call for two ships, the Celebrity Solstice and Norwegian Pearl.
Small-ship cruise line Alaskan Dream Cruises is adding a new nine-day itinerary that will sail round trip from Sitka, stopping in the Tlingit village of Kake, Petersburg, Juneau and at the company’s Orca Point Lodge. Un-Cruise Adventures has added a new vessel, the 88-passenger Legacy, to its fleet for 2014. The replica coastal steamer will sail 10 weeklong adventures between Ketchikan and Juneau and will highlight historical and culturally significant destinations in Southeast Alaska.
Travelers to Alaska in summer 2014 will now have access to flights between Fairbanks and Dawson City, Yukon, with nine flights per week scheduled on Air North. The flights will be utilized by Holland America Line for its Land + Sea Journeys to reduce guest travel time between Dawson City and Fairbanks from two days by bus to a short, one-hour flight. Yakutia Airlines and AirRussia.US announced the return of seasonal flights between Anchorage and Petropavlovsk, scheduled to operate for 10 weeks on Saturdays, running July 12 – Sept. 13. On the domestic front, Delta Airlines announced seasonal flights between Seattle and Juneau beginning May 29, and has added an additional flight to its seasonal Seattle to Anchorage route.
Tourism activities precede the cruise season, starting in mid-February when the National Park Service Alaska plows the Denali park road west of headquarters, a month or so earlier than usual. It will open up a recreational opportunity for skiers and snowshoers, as well as mountain viewers, at Mile 12, a new Mountain Vista Rest Area.
Held once every two years in a different location throughout the circumpolar north, the Arctic Winter Games are coming to Fairbanks, kicking off March 15 and continuing through March 22.
Juneau-based Perseverance Theatre will present Summerfest, a six-week festival of three new plays: The Blue Bear, Warriors and Vonya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience all three plays that will rotate during the summer season.
Other attractions cover a broad range. The Denali Zipline Tours out of Talkeetna is expanding operations to Seward at an 80-acre park that will serve as the new grounds for high-flying fun and sightseeing amongst the backdrop of Alaska forests. Kenai Fjords Tours will add a new 150-passenger catamaran to its 12-vessel fleet, offering more visitors the chance to travel through Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park to view wildlife and glaciers.
New for 2014, Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) provides both information and services to visitors with limited mobility or physical, visual, or hearing impairments in the Juneau area.
For cruise lines looking for local flavors, there is more than salmon: Ursa Major Distilling became the second Alaska spirit product to be accepted into the Alaska Grown program, which recognizes Alaska businesses working together to source products locally. Port Chilkoot Distillery, based in Haines, is a new distillery producing small-batch whiskey, gin and vodka. The micro-distillery recently released 12 Volts Moonshine, an un-aged corn whiskey. And High Mark Distillery, a new distillery located in Sterling, uses a secret family recipe, mixed with ideas borrowed from backwoods jack makers, to create its popular Nickel Back Apple Jack, a smooth, apple-pie-flavored liqueur.
And in 2015 Anchorage will celebrate its centennial anniversary, with a variety of events between now and 2015 commemorating the state’s largest city.