As travel restrictions continue to ease worldwide, one cruise destination stands out above all others for popularity and desire – Alaska. Holland America Line, which is celebrating its 75th year of sailing in the Last Frontier, has reported its highest bookings for the region, surpassing pre-pandemic interest levels.
Demand for Alaska
More and more people are seeking out travel this summer, particularly to bucket-list destinations that offer outstanding scenery and experiences found nowhere else in the world. Alaska is such a destination, and is one where cruises can deliver incomparable opportunities.
“People are excited to travel again while reconnecting with family and friends in a meaningful way,” said Beth Bodensteiner, senior vice president and chief commercial officer for Holland America Line.
“We’re seeing the pent-up demand leading to increased booking as guests realize cruising is a hassle-free way to enjoy unique destinations such as Alaska.”
On a cruise to Alaska, travelers only need to unpack once and can simply relax and unwind as they travel between ports that may be hundreds of miles apart, as well as see glaciers in up close, intimate ways unimaginable by other means.
With departures from both Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada, Holland America Line is offering a diverse array of ship options and itineraries to Alaska, with the most sailings from Vancouver of any cruise line in 2022.
Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, and Zuiderdam are operating from Vancouver and between Vancouver and Whittier, Alaska, this summer. Cruises include 7-night “Glacier Discovery Northbound,” “Glacier Discovery Southbound,” and “Alaska Inside Passage” itineraries with calls to Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway.
Meanwhile, the line’s popular Eurodam and Westerdam are offering 7-night “Alaskan Explorer” cruises from Seattle. Ports include Victoria, British Columbia as well as Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, and Sitka.
Westerdam was the last of Holland America Line’s ships to resume service when she began her Alaska season on June 12 in Seattle, bringing the full fleet back into passenger operations.
Top Travel Destinations for Summer 2022
Seattle has been named by AAA as the number-one summer domestic destination in the U.S. for travelers from Washington state, and the second most popular domestic destination nationwide, behind Orlando, Florida. Vancouver, British Columbia is the top-listed AAA international destination.
The tremendous popularity of both Seattle and Vancouver is due in large part to the area’s bustling cruise industry and the accessibility of these cities as cruise homeports.
“With the cost and recent challenges with air travel, we are seeing excitement and traction from guests within driving distance of our cruise homeports such as Seattle and Vancouver,” said Kacy Cole, vice president of marketing and e-commerce for Holland America Line. “We recently invested in local marketing near our homeports and we’re already seeing that pay off.”
While gas prices remain high, the uncertainty with air travel interruptions has made many travelers less willing to fly to vacations this summer. Sailing to Alaska from either Seattle or Vancouver, however, is an accessible, convenient option.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to fall as vaccinations become even more widespread, many eager travelers are feeling safer about visiting new places and making new and happier memories.
“Our summer travel inquiries and bookings show people are feeling safe to explore again,” said Michelle Glass, vice president of travel for AAA Washington. “A preferred partner, like Holland America Line, helps us provide clients with convenient departures to and from our own back yard to this amazing place, without the added cost of airfare.”
Summer Season Not Without Challenges
Holland America Line’s burgeoning popularity in Alaska this summer has not been without challenges, however.
Staffing shortages, both onboard the cruise line’s vessels as well as in its land-based resorts where popular pre- and post-cruise tour extensions are offered, have forced last-minute cancelations of select reservations.
Furthermore, despite overall pandemic levels lowering, the cruise line chose to reimplement required face masks onboard its Alaska sailings in mid-June, out of an “abundance of caution” for the region.
That mandate was slightly relaxed for most of the line’s Alaska sailings at the end of June, though masks remain required aboard voyages to and from Whittier, Alaska and Vancouver, Canada. According the cruise line’s website, masks are now only recommended, not required, on Holland America Line’s sailings from Seattle.