Holland America uses other cruise lines' cut backs on 2010 Alaska voyages to offer new and unusual cruise itineraries next year.
Because 2009 was the worst Alaska cruise season in history this could be the perfect time to pick up 2010 Alaska cruise bargains. We saw prices as low as $249 per seven-day cruise on Princess last April. The cost of your cruise is determined by the price when final payment is due, so if you make a deposit right now then your final payment should be due next April, the same month as when prices were at their lowest in 2009.
Why was 2009 so dismal? Most cruise lines say a $50 a head tax imposed by the state legislature cut into their profitability, but demand was also down, somewhat mysteriously. A few lines have already cut back the number of cruises to Alaska in 2010, but Holland America is shrewdly filling the void by picking up the newly released permits to visit Glacier Bay, offered by the state on a limited basis, and offering expanded itineraries to new Alaska destinations.
Particularly interesting is the 14 day Alaskan Adventurer cruise onboard Holland America's Amsterdam throughout the summer of 2010. This 14-day, round-trip Seattle, cruise visits the already well-known Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, and Glacier Bay. But it also offers a lineup of far less frequented by cruise ship northwestern Alaska destinations including Anchorage, Homer, and Kodiak. The cruise also includes the largest tidewater glacier in Alaska, Hubbard Glacier.
This is a jam-packed Alaska cruise with plenty of new things to see even for experienced Alaska cruisers.
While previous Alaska cruises have gone as far as Anchorage, those cruises usually required a flight between Alaska and the Lower 48. This Alaskan Adventurer 14-day cruise offers you the convenience of beginning and ending in Seattle, and the advantage of seeing more, and more unusual, Alaska destinations.
14 Day Alaskan Cruise Details
Departing from Seattle aboard Holland America's Amsterdam, day one is a day at sea as you sail up the Inside Passage. You spend day two in Ketchikan and day three in beautiful Sitka.
Day four is a somewhat lesser-known Alaska port, Skagway, which offers opportunities for dog sledding and helicopter flight-seeing over a glacier. There is a bald eagle preserve nearby with the world's largest gathering of the rare birds as well as moose, bear, wolves and other native animals.
Day five is spent in Glacier Bay, the highlight of many Alaska cruises. Day six is a day at sea.
Day number seven you are in Anchorage from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. - allowing you plenty of time to immerse yourselves into the true Alaska lifestyle. This is where most of the one-way seven-day Alaska cruises end.
But the second half is where the best part of the cruise begins, with the most interesting and "new to the cruise industry" destinations. Let's take a look...
Unusual Alaska Cruise Destinations
Day number eight brings us to Homer Alaska, known as the halibut fishing capital of the USA. The ship is in port from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., making it possible to find a half day charter fishing boat. Homer is said to offer some of the finest and most consistent fishing in all of Alaska, and it's a rare day that someone does not get their two halibut limit. You need a special one-day fishing license costing $20 per person, plus the average half day charter will cost about $100 per adult, with small discounts for children and seniors.
Don't care for small fishing boats? You could a go clamming for bivalves larger than a big man's hand on the Homer Spit, a narrow stretch of sea gravel almost 5 miles long and barely a few feet wide in places. Or just soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a great fresh seafood lunch consisting of clam chowder and halibut caught that morning.
There are plenty of hiking trails in Homer ranging from half a mile to 10 miles. Hiking in Alaska usually requires wet boots and a raincoat; it is a rain forest after all, just a very cold one.
Homer is also great for kayaking because of the Homer Spit. You can launch your kayak from the end of the spit and reach Gull Island within an hour - about 3.25 miles away.
Day nine brings us to Kodiak, obviously famous for... the Kodiak brown bear! This sub-species of the grizzly is one of the largest bears in the world by far, rivaling the polar bear. Kodiaks can weigh in at 1500 pounds and stand ten feet tall. You can reach their natural habitat by hiring an air taxi, and you must have a certified angler to guide you. Such tours may be offered by the cruise line before this cruise sails, but as of right now you would have to make those arrangements on your own.
On day ten you reach the largest tidewater glacier in Alaska, Hubbard Glacier. A tidewater glacier is flowing into the sea. Naturally, these are the only glaciers that a cruise ship can reach, but that isn't the only reason they do so. Salt water melts the glacier from below the water causing sheets of ice hundreds of feet tall to crash into the water below - called calving.
When it comes to drama, Hubbard glacier is the - Queen. Not only is it the largest and longest glacier on the Alaska coast, it is also one of the most active glaciers anywhere. A full six miles long and 300-feet above the water line (about three times bigger than average), it is also extremely shallow below the water line at a depth of only 300 feet. This top-heavy set of glacial circumstances makes for spectacular ice sheet calving action- so be sure to have your camera ready.
Day eleven is a visit to Juneau, one of the best opportunities for whale watching on the cruise. A short bus ride to Auke Bay gets you aboard a smaller whale watching tour boat with almost guaranteed sightings. On the way back be sure to visit Mendenhall Glacier for another opportunity to see smaller but cuddlier brown and black bears chasing wild salmon.
One more day (twelve) at sea is followed by a visit to beautiful Victoria, British Columbia on day thirteen. Like a small city snatched out of grand old England, Victoria features double-decker buses and country gardens perfect for tea time in the warm summer sunshine.
Because this is a newly announced itinerary, some of the possible shore tour details have not yet been worked out. But don't be surprised to see new shore tours offered in the near future. As far as pricing goes, it is hard to predict what the 2010 Alaska season will bring since a lot of it depends on the direction our economy takes, but having the cruise sailing round-trip from Seattle gives you an immediate cost advantage no matter what.
You can put a deposit down now to hold on to one of the somewhat limited veranda staterooms. That way your final payment will not be due until spring 2010, the time of year when Alaska cruise prices reached their nadir in 2009.