Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH) is set to bolster its presence in the Alaska market having entered into a 30-year preferential berthing agreement with Ward Cove Dock Group, paving the way for construction of a new double ship pier in Ward Cove, Ketchikan.
The new pier will be built to simultaneously accommodate two of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,000 passenger Breakaway Plus class ships and is expected to be ready for the 2020 Alaskan season.
NCLH, which is also the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, recently won a competitive bid for the last waterfront parcel in greater Juneau, and is engaging local stakeholders including government, business and community leaders to develop a plan which will benefit both the city and its various stakeholders and the company.
These investments follow the company’s announcement earlier this year of its partnership with Alaska Native-owned Huna Totem Corporation to develop a second cruise pier in Icy Strait Point, Huna Totem’s world-class cruise ship destination in Hoonah, Alaska.
“The natural beauty of Alaska makes it one of the most popular destinations to visit, and our investments in the region will enable us to provide our guests with a best-in-class experience as they explore the wonders of the Last Frontier,” said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
“These strategic initiatives mark the latest steps in our ongoing efforts to promote economic development in the region and make a positive economic and environmentally sensible impact on the Alaska tourism industry.”
NCLH President and CEO, Frank Del Rio
Icy Strait Point
The Icy Strait Point development will provide more cruise passengers with access to Icy Strait’s newly upgraded retail, restaurant and shore excursion amenities, including the world’s longest ZipRider zip line, the most accessible coastal brown bear viewing platforms in Southeast Alaska, whale watching and fishing excursions.
Scheduled for completion prior to the 2020 Alaskan summer cruise season, the pier will be built to accommodate Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus class ships.
The partnership will provide the three Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ brands with preferential berthing rights in this popular port destination and allow the company’s ships to increase calls to Icy Strait Point.
The new Wilderness Landing will cater to visitors in search of individualised experiences with the land, wildlife and native peoples of Alaska. As part of the expansion, Huna Totem Corporation is installing two gondolas and developing the upper part of Hoonah Mountain near its ZipRider attraction to offer additional experiences for visitors in 2020.
To elevate the experience and maintain its natural setting, the Wilderness Landing will be a vehicle-free zone. Instead of needing an estimated 72 buses to move guests around the site, travellers will be able to move through the treetops between the Historic Cannery and Wilderness Landing on the Transporter, a high-speed gondola system installed by the world’s premiere lift manufacturer, Doppelmayr Lift Systems. The gondola is wheelchair and scooter accessible and capable of moving more than 5,600 visitors per hour in eight-person cabins.
Opening a few months later in the Alaskan summer, a second gondola will take guests up the 488-metre Hoonah Mountain to the forested area around the ZipRider launch. The six-minute ride will unlock additional areas for exploration and afford spectacular views of icefields, the Fairweather Range and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, the ancestral homeland of the Huna Tlingit people.
Huna Totem Corporation will develop the wilderness expanse with new attractions for guests: a network of walking trails; a 104-metre suspension bridge swaying over a box-canyon with a 275-metre vertical drop; and a tour departure centre for bear searches, ATV adventures, helicopter flightseeing and more will be added during the 2021 season. Guests may also enjoy an extended, top-of-the-mountain nature trail loop around a glacially carved reflecting pond.
Glacier Bay National Park concession
In addition to its development initiatives in Alaska, the company was awarded a much sought-after concession contract through 2029 allowing Norwegian Cruise Line to operate cruises within Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Contracts were granted based on a competitive bid process which focused on various factors and environmental commitments such as air emissions, waste and wildlife protection.
This contract went into effect on 1 October and will enable the company to provide premier Alaskan itinerary offerings to its guests as the spectacular scenery and wildlife of Glacier Bay is a must-see destination for any Alaska cruise.
Covering 1.3 million hectares of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and part of a 10-million-acre World Heritage Site — one of the world’s largest international protected areas. In addition to the spectacular sights, guests will also enjoy hearing from Cultural Heritage Guides which will accompany each voyage that sails into Glacier Bay as part of the Company’s partnership with Alaska Native Voices.
Lead image: Norwegian Joy at Icy Strait Point Wilderness Landing