May 22, 2001
Alaska used to be the kind of destination that attracted cruise lines’ older, smaller ships (and older, demographically speaking, passengers). No more: as cruise lines like Carnival (with Spirit) and Celebrity (with Infinity) are now sending their swankiest, newest vessels to Alaska. Not to mention biggest: next summer, Princess is shipping the 2,600-passenger Star Princess, its latest biggest ship at 109,000 tons (and sister vessel to Grand and Golden), to Alaska. Will this biggest ship soak up a lot of berths (and replace existing vessels)? No way, she’s adding to the traffic, according to Princess Cruises, which plans to send the 1,950-passenger Sun, Dawn and Ocean to Alaska as well. The change in philosophy has a lot to do with the way cruise lines see Alaska as a destination. They’re all promoting itineraries that are geared to multi-generational travelers -- mom and dad, junior, and grandma -- as opposed to marketing it as a destination primarily geared to older folk. Cruise line efforts aren’t just targeted at on-board atmosphere but also in actual touristing areas, with shore excursions that are now active (kayaking, mountain bike riding, salmon fishing) complementing the traditional bus tour trips.