Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, has announced agreements struck on strategic initiatives that will enhance its tours of Alaska.
The company recently entered into a 30-year preferential berthing agreement with Ward Cove Dock Group that allows for the construction of a new double-ship pier in Ward Cove, Ketchikan, Alaska. Capable of simultaneously accommodating two of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,000-passenger Breakaway Plus class ships, the pier is expected to be completed in time for the summer 2020 season.
Norwegian is also working with government, business and community leaders to develop a recently acquired downtown waterfront parcel in Juneau.
“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 chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “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.”
Earlier in 2019, the company announced a partnership with Alaska Native-owned Huna Totem to develop a second cruise pier in Icy Strait Point, Huna Totem’s cruise ship destination in Hoonah, Alaska.
The Icy Strait Point development is scheduled for completion prior to the summer 2020 Alaska cruise season. The new pier will be built to accommodate Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus class ships. The agreement gives the three Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ brands preferential berthing rights and allows the company’s ships to increase calls to Icy Strait Point.
A new Wilderness Landing destination will enable visitors to experience the land, wildlife and native peoples of Alaska. As part of the expansion, Huna Totem is installing two gondolas and developing the upper part of Hoonah Mountain near its ZipRider attraction. The Wilderness Landing will become a vehicle-free zone, eliminating a need for an estimated 72 buses to move guests around the site. Travellers will instead move through the treetops between the Historic Cannery and Wilderness Landing on a wheelchair and scooter accessible high-speed gondola system installed by Doppelmayr Lift Systems. The gondola can move more than 5,600 visitors per hour in eight-person cabins.
A second gondola will take guests up the 1,600ft Hoonah Mountain to the forested area around the ZipRider launch. The six-minute ride will offer guests unique views of ice fields, the Fairweather Range and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, the ancestral homeland of the Huna Tlingit people.
Huna Totem will also develop the wilderness expanse with new attractions that include a network of walking trails; a 340ft suspension bridge swaying over a box-canyon with a 900ft vertical drop; and a tour departure centre for bear searches, ATV adventures, helicopter sightseeing 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.
Following a competitive bid process, which focussed on environmental commitments including air emissions, waste and wildlife protection, Norwegian Cruise Line Holding was also awarded a concession contract that allows Norwegian Cruise Line to operate cruises within Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The contract went into effect on 1 October 2019 and extends through to 2029
The company’s Sail & Sustain environmental programme includes a commitment to minimise waste to landfills, reduce CO2 emissions, increase sustainable sourcing and invest in emerging technologies, such as hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems that can be operated in a closed-loop setting.