Alaska Cruise Tours a more popular cruise option each season..The Alaska cruise market is changing from a cruise-only to a cruise tour market and it’s all good news to consumers as they have more choice than ever before to truly experience the “Great Land” of Alaska.
“For clients booked to travel during the summer of 2006, we are seeing one third of our clients choosing a cruise tour over the traditional Alaska cruise experience” says Blaine Lambert, Vice President of Operations for Cruise Holidays of Vancouver and AlaskaCruiseExperts.com.
What is a cruise tour? A cruise tour is a vacation package that combines a cruise vacation with a land tour. The land portion of the vacation can be taken before or after the cruise, with travel by deluxe motor coach or train and accommodations at top hotels and lodges. The combination of a cruise plus a land tour allows for a more complete Alaska experience.
“A cruise is a wonderful way to see the tidal glaciers and port towns of Alaska. However, if you want to get up close to the wildlife and venture into destinations like Denali National Park and Mt. McKinley, you need to add a tour to your cruise” says Lambert.
Popular cruise ports include Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and either Hubbard Glacier or Glacier Bay National Park. On the land tour, destinations include Anchorage and/or Fairbanks and Denali National Park.
The most popular cruise tours consist of a 7-night cruise coupled with a 3- to 6-night land tour. Cruise tours with the land tour before the cruise are classified as “Northbound”, referring to the direction the ship travels along the Inside Passage. Cruise tours with the land tour after the cruise portion are classified as “Southbound”.
Travelers frequently prefer to enjoy Southbound cruise tours. In general, this entails flying into Fairbanks or Anchorage, completing the tour and then embarking the ship for the cruise. Due to this difference in demand, Northbound cruise tours tend to be lower in price.
Princess Cruises has four ships sailing out of Vancouver, BC. The Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess each accommodate 2,670 passengers, while the Island Princess and Coral Princess each accommodate 2,000 passengers. Although Princess ships are large, the cruise line has focused on small ship intimacy, with several smaller dining rooms and many luxuriously decorated lounges.
Holland America Line offers three smaller ships – ms Statendam, ms Veendam and ms Ryndam - each carrying approximately 1,200 passengers. These mid-sized ships offer a traditional European ambience onboard.
Holland America also offers cruise tours to the Yukon. These tours include 3- or 4-night cruises visiting Dawson City, Whitehorse and several Alaskan destinations like Denali National Park. If you want a truly comprehensive Northern experience, consider one of these vacations.
Royal Caribbean International has sent the Radiance of the Seas to Alaska, one of the most modern ships sailing the Inside Passage. The “wow” factor is high onboard this ship, due to such features as glass elevators, a rock climbing wall on the top deck and a glass-walled central atrium that soars nine decks high!
Celebrity Cruises sails one of their fleet in Alaska, the Summit, which hold just under 2,000 passengers. For the fourth consecutive year, the cruise line was awarded “The Best Cruise Ship in the World” in Condé Nast Traveler's annual readers' survey. Readers evaluated cruise ships based on five criteria: Itineraries, Crew/Service, Cabins/Design, Food/Dining, and Activities/Excursions.
Several cruise lines also offer Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours to compliment their Vancouver Inside Passage cruises. Inside Passage cruises sail into and out of Vancouver on 7-day voyages.
With each cruise line catering to a different demographic and offering a wide variety of cruise tour options, there is truly something for everyone when it comes to Alaskan cruises and cruise tours.
“Each year the best cruise tour itineraries sell out early. Those last minute deals just don’t exist in the Alaska cruise market. We find prices generally increase each month as we move closer to the sailing season” says Lambert.
With cruise tours growing in popularity, Lambert recommends that you plan and book your vacation well in advance to get the best choices in itinerary and stateroom accommodation.
Cruise Holidays of Vancouver specializes in cruise vacations and in recent years has specialized in the Alaska cruise tour market. You can visit their travel site. Cruise Holidays is the oldest cruise-only travel chain and has over 150 stores throughout North America. All Cruise Holidays stores are independently owned and operated franchises.