The Alaska cruise market may consist of just four key operators in 2021, led by Alaskan Dream Cruises, American Cruise Lines, Lindblad Expeditions and UnCruise, which feature small ships sailing under the U.S. flag without the need to visit a foreign port.
Unaffected by Canada’s cruise ship ban, UnCruise will become the biggest cruise operator in Alaska for the 2021 summer, followed by Lindblad Expeditions on a capacity basis, according to the 2021 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
“Alaska here we come. UnCruise is going to be there,” said Dan Blanchard, CEO of UnCruise, in a press conference on Friday.
The company is planning a six-ship Alaska deployment in 2021, and could grow to seven ships if demand is there, Blanchard said.
“The small U.S.-flagged fleet is going to be there,” Blanchard said, noting that bookings are being driven by customers who are receiving their vaccines.
American Cruise Lines will also be in the market with a single ship, the American Constellation.
“American Cruise Lines has been working closely with communities in Alaska and New England and looks forward to safely resuming small ship cruises this year. American Cruise Lines operates only U.S. flag ships on itineraries with domestic ports of call and is planning to operate as scheduled,” said Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO of American Cruise Lines. “We are proud of our American roots and together with other U.S. cruise operators, we look forward to contributing to the local economies that are impacted so significantly by the Canadian order.”
At Lindblad Expeditions, the company plans to operate its 100-guest National Geographic Venture and Quest, plus the National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska this summer, according to a spokesperson.
“And if demand is there, we’ll bring the National Geographic Sea Bird online too,” said the spokesperson.
Alaskan Dream Cruises, under the Allen Marine banner, will start Alaska sailings on May 7, according to Zakary Kirkpatrick, executive officer and corporate director of marketing and public relations.
The Alaskan-owned company will sail six ships, ranging in size from 10 to 76 guests.
“In our restart, we are committed to comply with federal, state, and municipal government health mandates. In addition, we are heartened by the news of vaccine rollouts. The average age of our cruisers is over 60, so many booking cruises with us expect to have received the vaccination in the coming months or have already received the vaccination. It is clear that there is demand for Alaska travel,” Kirkpatrick told Cruise Industry News.
“Even under ‘normal’ circumstances, we often make adjustments to itineraries when spectacular wildlife sightings occur or as the weather dictates,” he said. “This is a key part of what makes our expeditions exciting. In 2021, this flexibility will allow us to adjust our adventures if we need to avoid certain excursions or communities due to virus concerns. Luckily, the Inside Passage boasts countless wild places to explore by kayak, skiff, and on foot. And as locals, we know the best of them.”