Get ready for another record-breaking cruise season, one that features the arrival of the Norwegian Bliss, Alaska’s first large new-built – and, at 4,000 passengers, the biggest cruise ship to visit the state.
“The 2018 season will be record setting. It’s exciting to see the growth within the industry and the possibilities for the future of our state. The visitor industry plays an important role in Alaska’s economy, especially today, bringing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the state,” said John Binkley, CLIA Alaska’s President.
CLIA Alaska predicts 7 percent growth this season, with new records for passengers at 1.165 million, traveling on 518 voyages aboard 34 ships. Last year 33 cruise ships, on 497 voyages, carried 1.089 million passengers, surpassing the previous record of just over one million passengers set in 2008.
Several cruise lines are expanding or entering the Alaska market. Windstar Cruises is coming to Alaska this season, and Princess is adding one ship to its itinerary, while Viking Cruises, Azamara Cruises and Cunard Cruise Line will enter the Alaska market in 2019
American Cruise Lines, one of the biggest cruise companies in the U.S., is sending its American Constellation, a new coastal cruise ship, north this season. The 170-passenger ship will call on Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Glacier Bay, Kake, Petersburg and Tracy Arm.
The vessel was designed and built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland,and made its debut last year.
Princess Cruises is celebrating half a century sailing to the Great Land with seven ships, including the debut of its 3,600-passenger Royal Princess.
“Our upcoming 2019 Alaska season marks our 50th year taking guests to this bucket-list destination that for most, is a life-changing experience offering breathtaking scenery and awe-inspiring moments,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.
The Bliss first arrives in Ketchikan June 4 and will sail 17 Inside Passage cruises with other stops in Juneau, Tracy Arm, Skagway, Victoria and its home port of Seattle.
The 167,800-ton, 4,000-passenger ship is the third member of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus Class.
A few highlights:
- The Waterfront features 13 restaurants and bars
- Top-deck attractions include the largest go-kart racetrack at sea, a laser-tag court and two adrenaline-pumping water slides
- A new cabin category for solo travelers features virtual ocean views
- A massive 20,000-square-foot Observation Lounge with 180-degree views spans the entire forward section of the ship to offer unparalleled views.
The first ship of the season, the Ruby Princess, arrives in Juneau April 30, and the last ship departs Dutch Harbor on October 6. There will be 119 sailings across the Gulf of Alaska, with 71 beginning or ending in Seward and 38 in Whittier. The Zaandam will call 10 times at the Port of Anchorage.
The cruise ship industry is a bright spot in an otherwise flat state economy. From the end of April through the beginning of October, passengers, cruise lines and employees spend nearly a billion dollars in Alaska, while total tax revenue for municipal and state government tops $187 million.