The first cruise ship from Norwegian Cruise Line to start operations in the United States, Norwegian Encore, has made its debut in Alaska. The vessel left the docks in Seattle on August 7, and locals welcomed guests to Icy Strait Point yesterday.
The port holds a special significance to Norwegian Cruise Line as the company made significant investments in Alaska and Icy Strait Point in particular. Guests onboard Norwegian Encore were the first to experience the new Wilderness Landing Pier and Gondola System.
In addition to its large open beaches to explore, Icy Strait Point offers guests the chance to explore a temperate rainforest and experience authentic Alaska. There is also the largest ZipRider zip line globally, the best beach viewing platforms for brown bears in Southeast Alaska, kayaking, and whale watching on the island. Icy Strait Point is located a mile from the Alaskan Native community of Hoonah, where travelers can learn about native traditions, dances, oral histories, and cooking classes.
It is an excellent place for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to invest in the future of cruising in Alaska, ensuring the local native communities and people profit from the arrival of cruise ships to the area. Officials from Norwegian Cruise Line and Icy Strait Point were present to officially open the Wilderness Landing pier and the first of two gondola systems to be completed as part of the joint investment between NCLH and Huna Totem.
Icy Strait Point is a part of the Huna Totem Corporation, which is an Alaska Native owned-and-operated company of which all profits directly support the local community.
Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line: “Our return to Alaska is a monumental moment for not only NCL but for the state’s communities as well. The absence of cruising last year was detrimental to these communities, which lost approximately $1.5 billion. Our return represents our continued commitment to Alaska and to the well-being of the destinations we visit. Our investment in Icy Strait Point is providing our guests with more opportunities to experience and understand the natural and cultural beauty of the destination and its people.”
The Wilderness Landing provides guests with more opportunities to explore the region, while guests have easy access to Adventure Landing, the first pier in Icy Strait Point, through the new gondola system. A second gondola system will be in operation towards the end of the year, allowing guests to visit Hoonah Mountain at 1,600-feet of elevation, where miles of new hiking trails and scenic vistas await.
Icy Strait Point is a prime example of how cruise tourism and sustainability can go hand in hand. Russell Dick, chief executive officer of Huna Totem Corporation:
“Since Icy Strait Point’s inception, we’ve strived to balance the needs of our Alaska Native community with those of Alaska’s growing cruise industry and this development was a natural step for us. We are grateful to Norwegian for believing in our vision and we hope our sustainable model can lead the way for positive expansion of the cruise visitor industry in Alaska.”
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Norwegian’s Great Cruise Comeback Underway
Norwegian Encore will be visiting Juneau and Ketchikan for the first time on this voyage before she returns to Seattle for another week-long cruise to Alaska. The newest ship in the fleet will be sailing to Alaska from Seattle through October 16.
Norwegian Jade started sailing her seven-day itineraries to the Greek Isles on July 25, while Norwegian Gem will be the first ship in the fleet to resume operations from Miami and set sail from the new Norwegian Cruise Line Terminal at PortMiami.
Over the weekend, the cruise line received some positive news from a Florida judge when she allowed Norwegian Cruise Line to demand proof of vaccination from guests on cruises from Florida, something the cruise line does on every cruise worldwide. However, Florida is currently challenging that ruling.
Whatever the outcome in Florida, cruises onboard Norwegian Encore will continue with happy guests exploring Alaska’s wild nature and wildlife.