It features an early start to the season, with the first adventure cruise departing on April 6. In total, the line will have seven small ships on 142 departures. Eleven different itineraries include a new Alaska’s Glacier Country cruise roundtrip from Juneau. Additional homeports include Seattle, Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Sitka.
The Alaska Awakening departures in April and May showcase the benefits of spring travel. It’s the driest time of the year in the region. Each cruise features a dedicated Alaska Awakening Insider theme host, who discusses the unique attributes of the season.
“Our success with Alaska Awakening departures allows us to start our season earlier than ever before and show off more of Southeast Alaska in the springtime,” said Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO. “April is the new May, and May is the new June.”
Every UnCruise Adventures Alaska cruise includes an array of adventure activities. Guests can take part in hiking, bushwhacking, kayaking, paddle boarding, skiff excursions and whale watching. Itineraries are flexible, to allow for maximum encounters with wilderness and wildlife.
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New for 2019 is Alaska’s Glacier Country. Guests will sail aboard the 90-passenger S.S. Legacy and the 36-passenger Safari Explorer. The roundtrip from Juneau includes a day in Glacier Bay National Park. The cruise also visits Icy Strait, Endicott Arm with Dawes Glacier, Fords Terror Wilderness Area, Chatham Strait and Frederick Sound. The latter two bring the chance to spot humpback whales.
The weeklong Northern Passages & Glacier Bay itinerary takes place aboard the 76-passenger Wilderness Discoverer, 60-passenger Wilderness Adventurer and 74-passenger Wilderness Explorer. It ventures from Juneau to Sitka (or reverse). Highlights include Chatham Strait, Glacier Bay National Park, Icy Strait, Chichagof Island, Peril Strait and Sergius Narrows.
The 60-passenger Wilderness Adventurer sails the weeklong Glacier Bay Small Ship Cruise from Juneau. The itinerary includes two days in Glacier Bay National Park. It also visits Icy Strait, Kuiu Island, Frederick Sound and Dawes Glacier in Endicott Arm.
The Glacier Bay National Park Adventure Cruise aboard Wilderness Adventurer and Wilderness Explorer is a roundtrip from Juneau. It includes three full days in Glacier Bay National Park, allowing for maximum hiking and kayaking opportunities. It visits Icy Strait and spends a day in Haines, where guests can hike or float down the Chilkat River. It also includes a presentation by local Chilkat Tlingit members.
Alaska Yacht—Bears, Bergs & Bushwhacking takes place aboard the 22-passenger Safari Quest. The eight-day itinerary out of Petersburg calls on rarely-visited wilderness areas. Guests can take part in fishing or flightseeing excursions. They’ll visit the South Baranof, Admiralty, Tebenkof, Stikine-LeConte Glacier wilderness areas; the native village of Kake and Fortress of the Bear on Admiralty Island.
Alaska’s Glaciers & Whales aboard the 88-passenger Safari Endeavour travels from Juneau to Sitka. It explores the twin Sawyer Glaciers in Tracy Arm, Baird Glacier in Thomas Bay, and LeConte Glacier. The cruise also visits Frederick Sound, Baranof Island, Sergius Narrows and the native village of Kake.
Whales, Wildlife & Glaciers aboard Safari Endeavor cruises the upper Inside Passage from Sitka to Juneau. This route explores Krestof Sound, Icy Strait, Glacier Bay National Park, Chichagof Island, and Lynn Canal. Guests can take a raft trip down the Chilkat River in Haines, where local Chilkat Tlingit members will give an onboard presentation. The cruise can be combined with Alaska’s Glaciers & Whales itinerary for the two-week Alaska Glacier Cruise – Ultimate Expedition.
Alaska Fjords and Glaciers aboard Wilderness Discoverer and Wilderness Explorer travels from Juneau to Ketchikan (or reverse). It visits Misty Fjords National Monument, Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier, Thomas Bay, Stephens Passage, Wrangell Narrows and a stop in Wrangell for a visit to the totem park and Chief Shakes Tribal House. Combined with the Northern Passages & Glacier Bay cruise, it becomes the new two-week Fjords of Alaska Cruise – Ultimate Expedition.
Alaska’s Inside Passage & San Juans Cruise aboard the S.S. Legacy, Safari Endeavour, and Wilderness Discoverer travels from Seattle to Juneau or reverse. The 14-day cruise explores Olympic National Park, the San Juan Islands and Canada’s Inside Passage to Ketchikan. It continues through Alaska’s Inside Passage, visiting Misty Fjords National Monument, Chatham Strait, Fredrick Sound, Icy Strait, Glacier Bay National Park, Petersburg, and Haines.
Cruise fare includes meals, all beverages including alcohol; adventure activities and transfers to the ship. Optional land packages are available to Denali National Park and Talkeetna, Kenai Peninsula and Juneau.
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When and How Will Cruising Return?
While the entire travel industry has ground to a halt from the coronavirus pandemic, the cruise industry was hit especially hard as multiple ships were turned away from ports while passengers and crew fell ill and even died.
“COVID-19 has been a PR disaster for the cruise industry,” said Ben Cordwell, a travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company.
How does the cruise industry recover and regain its momentum?
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“Since the cruise industry pivoted from passenger shipping to leisure cruising in the 1970s, cruise lines have not faced a full-scale halt of operations like they face today due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Robert J. Kwortnik, an associate professor at Cornell University’s Hotel School, who studies tourism with a focus on the leisure cruise industry. “This situation truly is unprecedented, which means the response to it will have to be unprecedented as well.”
First, the cruise companies need to secure the finances needed to keep the core operations running – which they’re already doing. Kwortnik said they also need to prepare logistically for re-crewing ships when they are ready to resume sailing, especially with travel restrictions and severely reduced numbers of flights.
They’ll also have to figure out how to weed out sick passengers and disembark ill and healthy guests if the need ever arises again, he said. It likely will mean more detailed health forms before boarding and thermal scans to check temperatures.
“Stronger or different health screenings may become the new normal for the cruise industry, much like the more involved TSA screenings implemented after the 9/11 tragedy in the United States,” Kwortnik said.
Flexible cancellation policies also may be required so people don’t lose all they paid if they cancel at the last minute due to illness. “Reducing, and ideally eliminating, the possibility of sick passengers getting on a cruise ship will require both more vigilance at the port and the removal of disincentives for ill travelers to show up at the port in the first place,” he said.
But the biggest challenge likely will be convincing people to take a cruise. Steeply discounted fares will help, at least with avid cruisers eager to return to the seas. But many travelers will need to be convinced that ships are disinfected and clean.
“Veteran cruisers know how seriously cruise lines take onboard cleaning and hand-washing to minimize the threat of norovirus. But coronavirus is very different,” Kwortnik said. “Moreover, the important new-to-cruise segment doesn’t have experience with the extraordinary sanitation measures used by cruise lines to minimize the threat of illness spreading onboard. While it’s reasonable for the cruise lines to be reluctant to discuss a common objection to cruising — the fear of getting sick — it may now be necessary to move the question of health/sanitation more front and center as part of a public awareness campaign, especially for travel agents and the new-to-cruise market.”
In fact, Crystal Cruises released a video by President and CEO Tom Wolber, in which he said the luxury line enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols for ships, terminals and vehicles transporting guests. Carnival Cruise Line also detailed its more rigorous cleaning standards on its website.
When cruising does resume, travel advisors will be essential in helping the cruise industry recover, just as they were in building the industry since the 1970s.
“Travel agents may never have been more important to the cruise industry than now. Agents will be key sources of information for cruise education as the cruise lines make operational changes to protect passenger safety, and of course for information about cruises sailing again, itinerary changes, reservation and cancelation changes, etc.,” Kwortnik said. “Communicating and incentivizing the travel trade will be vital to the industry’s reemergence. Travel agents are trusted by their clients, and this trust will be critical as travelers decide if and when it’s safe to cruise for the first time or to cruise again.
“Cruising is an outstanding vacation value, and the industry will come out of this pandemic stronger and all the more focused on guest safety and security,” Kwortnik said. “There’s no reason travel agents shouldn’t be confident to continue selling cruises to their clients and to recommend cruises for customers who have never sailed before.”
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