Chris Schutte

The MS Amsterdam is the third ship to bear the name of the Dutch capital in Holland America Line’s more than 135-year history.

This summer, “Anchorage will have the opportunity to shine,” said Julie Saupe, CEO of the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau. Starting May 24 and continuing every other Monday through Sept. 13, Holland America’s MS Amsterdam will bring nearly 1,400 cruise passengers and 600 crew members to Anchorage for a 16-hour port of call. This is the first time a cruise ship has docked in Anchorage on a regular basis.

“Many cruise passengers – an estimated 35 percent – will revisit Anchorage at some point in the future,” Saupe said. “They’re going to discover there’s just so much they want to come back and see.”

In addition to Anchorage, the 14-day roundtrip cruise from Seattle will visit ports in Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka, Homer, Kodiak, Juneau and Victoria, B.C. The ship will sail nine times this summer.

With the recent passage of Senate Bill 312, Alaska is hoping to create a more business-friendly climate for the cruise industry. The bill adjusted the passenger entry fee from $46 to $34.50 with offsets for existing local taxes in Juneau and Ketchikan. The legislation has “opened up all type of opportunities for us to move forward,” said Gideon Garcia, director of Holland’s motor coach operations.

The cruise line has already committed to another round of trips in 2011. On April 26, Holland America CEO Stein Kruse said the cruise line would be amenable to bringing passengers to Alaska in 2012 and beyond. “I can’t say right here and today what we will do because those decisions haven’t been made, but I can tell you that it’s a far more positive outlook than it has been for the last couple of years,” he said.

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