Considered a leader in Alaska tourism with more than 60 years experience in the region, Holland America Line’s 2009 Alaska cruise lineup includes eight ships sailing three different itineraries with 158 total departures.   The premium line’s three major cruising itineraries — Glacier Bay Inside Passage, Glacier Discovery and Alaskan Explorer — showcase the highlights of Alaska gleaned from decades of experience.

A longtime tour operator, Holland America has again been awarded the most Glacier Bay permit entries of any cruise line. On many people’s “must see” list, Glacier Bay is a 65-mile long fjord with spectacular tidewater glaciers.

“We’ve arranged our ships and itineraries for 2009 to ensure that everyone who sails, even if they are on board for only three days as part of a CruiseTour, will visit a tidewater glacier,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales, and guest programs. “Seeing a glacier calve in front of you and hearing the thunderous cracking of ice is a thrilling experience every traveler should have at least once in a lifetime.”

In addition to majestic Glacier Bay National Park, cruise itineraries visit Alaska’s immense Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay, as well as the 15 glaciers of College Fjord and the twin Sawyer Glaciers in Tracy Arm.

Through a partnership with Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Native guides will be on board the majority of Alaska cruises on ships cruising in Glacier Bay. Alaska Native Travel Guides will bring their knowledge and personal experience of local culture, history, art and flora and fauna to guests on Alaskan cruises.

Alaskan Explorer Cruises from Seattle
Three ships home-ported in Seattle will sail 61 seven-day Alaskan Explorer cruises roundtrip: 1,432-guest Zaandam departs Fridays, 1,380-guest flagship ms Amsterdam departs Saturdays, 1,916-guest Westerdam departs Sundays.  Cruises depart from May 8 through September 25.

The Amsterdam highlights Hubbard Glacier, the Zaandam showcases Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm (with the twin Sawyer Glaciers), and the Westerdam cruises spectacular Glacier Bay.  All Alaskan Explorer cruises call at the historic ports of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, plus Victoria, BC, and feature scenic cruising of the Inside Passage and Vancouver Island.

Glacier Bay Inside Passage
The 1,432-guest Volendam (Wednesday departures) and1,916-guest Zuiderdam (Saturday departures) sail 38 voyages from May 9 through September 19 roundtrip from Vancouver, British Columbia visiting Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay National Park and Tracy Arm fjord. The seven-day itinerary includes two days of glacier viewing with a visit to twin Sawyer Glaciers at the head of the narrow 26-mile Tracy Arm fjord, in addition to Glacier Bay.

Five more sailings of the Inside Passage itinerary—with port and glacier variations—will be offered on ms Ryndam May 8 and 15, ms Statendam September 13 and 20, and ms Veendam September 20.

Glacier Discovery
The 1,258-guest Ryndam (Friday departures), Statendam and Veendam (both Sunday departures) sail  54 seven-day cruises between Vancouver, B.C. and Seward (Anchorage), Alaska and reverse from May 10 to September 18. The Statendam and Veendam visit Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord in Prince William Sound. College Fjord has numerous dramatic tidewater glaciers named after Ivy League colleges which helped fund the Harriman expedition in 1899.  The Ryndam visits Ketchikan, Haines, Juneau, Sitka and the Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay.

The Glacier Discovery and Inside Passage cruises are often combined with a land tour to create a comprehensive CruiseTour.  A diverse selection of 29 CruiseTours from 11 to 20 days may include visits to Denali National Park, Fairbanks, the Kenai Peninsula, the Arctic and the Yukon Territory. Many CruiseTours offer two-days at Denali—“Double Denali”—to maximize wildlife and Mt. McKinley viewing.

Shore Excursions
With more than 250 optional excursions in 2009, shore excursions in Alaska appeal to an increasingly broad range of interests and allow guests to further customize their Alaskan experience. Food lovers, adventure seekers and art enthusiasts will all find not-to-be-missed experiences. Guests can enjoy active excursions ranging from sea kayaking and fly or sport fishing to dog sledding and wildlife watching for eagles, sea otters and whales. Other exciting excursions feature such attractions as the White Pass Summit Scenic Railway from Skagway, Russian heritage in Sitka, a photography tour in Haines and a five-course tasting meal featuring Alaska seafood prepared by a local chef in Ketchikan.