May 30, 2002
Just as travelers are preparing to embark on this season’s Alaska cruises, the industry's two biggest players -- Princess Cruises and Holland America -- are going mano-a-mano in publicity wars to promote next year’s Alaska. So, in a nutshell, here are highlights for 2003: *Princess is assigning two of its newest (and biggest) ships to Alaska: The 2,600-passenger Star Princess, weighing in at about 110,000 tons, and the 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess, which, when complete (it’s being built in Japan) will top the charts at 113,000 tons. *Holland America says that due to popular demand -- meaning popular demand this season -- it will greatly expand its “Double Denali” cruise tours which take in attractions such as Talkeetna, Alyeska, Fairbanks or Dawson City, Yukon Territory. There will be four new tours and these will focus on Canada's Kluane National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site offering “pristine wilderness and five of the seven highest peaks in North America.” *Princess is adopting Seattle as a home port for roundtrip 7-day sailings for both Diamond and Star Princess; the itinerary features calls at Victoria and then the usual Inside Passage suspects. *Holland America says it’s offering a record (for Holland America, natch) number of cruises in 2003 -- that being 136. *Princess will have six ships in Alaska; other newbies aside from Diamond and Star include Coral and Island Princess. Sun and Dawn Princess round out the figures. Holland America will send Amsterdam as its Alaska flagship plus six other ships for a total of seven. These include Maasdam, Volendam and Zaandam, Statendam, Ryndam and Veendam.