Saturday, April 20, 2024

Accommodation in Alaska

From luxurious hotels in downtown Anchorage to rustic fishing lodges far from the nearest road, Alaska has accommodations to fit vacationers' plans. The hotels and motels in larger cities include many nationally known chains, such as Marriott, Holiday Inn, Ramada, Westmark, Best Western and Comfort. Locally owned hotels such as the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage offer top-flight service, and there are many smaller hotels and motels in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and other destinations. Lodges in wilderness -- or even just outside of town -- put vacationers right in the middle of the wildlife. Many lodges, especially around Denali National Park and Talkeetna but also near such Kenai Peninsula locations as Seward and Homer offer excursions to discover more about flora and fauna. Hostels are found in many cities and towns along the Alaska Highway Systems and the Inside Passage.

Overview of the 2013 Alaska Cruise Ship Season

The 2013 cruise season will continue its rebound but fall shy of Alaska’s best years ever as 31 ships are scheduled to call 396 times for a total passenger gain of 65,647 over 2012. The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice is replacing the 2,038-passenger Infinity, the 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle will replace the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit and the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess will replace the 1,950-passenger Sea Princess on a San Francisco round-trip. Oceania is returning the 700-passenger Regatta to Alaska after a year’s hiatus. The Amsterdam will switch to a 7-day Inside Passage sailing, which will double the number of visits. Juneau will remain the most popular port of call with an estimated 934,074 cruise visitors, followed by Ketchikan with 917,974 and Skagway with 791,972. A total of 165,996 cruise visitors are expected to cross the Gulf of Alaska and either begin or end their cruise in Anchorage via the ports of Seward and Whittier. The redeployment of the Amsterdam from a two-week to a one-week schedule impacts many ports in Southcentral Alaska, especially Anchorage and Kodiak, which will lose their only regularly scheduled cruise ship.

Four ships will visit Kodiak five times, a loss of nine c Two Hapag-Lloyd Cruise ships – the Bremen and the Hanseatic – will call six times on Nome for a total visitation of 1,824. Four ships will stop in Dutch Harbor and one in Valdez.

Alaska enjoyed a record peak of cruise visitors in 2008, when 1,032,074 cruise passengers sailed Alaska waters. Despite a strong global cruise industry, however, the next two years saw a decline in Alaska cruise ship passengers and revenue, due in part to a citizens’ initiative that significantly raised the cost of coming to Alaska through the imposition of four new taxes, including a $50 per person head tax. In 2010 the state lost three ships and approximately 142,000 passengers – a 17 percent decline in cruise business after 30 years of growth. In response, the Alaska State Legislature passed SB 312, paving the way to a comeback for the state’s cruise businesses. The bill adjusted the cruise passenger excise tax from $46 to $34.50, with a credit for head taxes charged by other ports.

New Alaska Inside Passage Ferry Service

A new ferry service is in the works for Alaska's rainforest islands. Stretching out through the pristine waters of the Inside Passage, the rainforest islands offer access to glaciers, mountains, ancient forests and caves and is a destination known for fishing and bear viewing opportunities. The 70-passenger, 14-vehicle ferry features an observation deck, recliner lounge, coffee shop and food and beverage service. It will connect Wrangell, Petersburg (via South Mitkof) and Prince of Wales Island (via Coffman Cove) four days a week, with additional service to Ketchikan (via Saxman) three days a week. Throughout the winter, service will be maintained three days a week between Wrangell, Petersburg, and Prince of Wales Island. The Rainforest Islands Ferry will also provide transportation between ferry terminals and towns on both Prince of Wales and Mitkof islands as well as to connecting points for recreational opportunities for travellers without a vehicle.

Bear Viewing in Alaska

When it comes to must-see Alaska animals, it's a little bit like the food chain - Bears are at the top of the list. Nearly every visitor wants to see a grizzly (or brown bear). And Alaska is the best place to see them in their natural environment. Alaska contains more than 98 percent of the U.S. population of brown bears. The state also hosts large populations of black bears and polar bears, although most visitors won't see polar bears. In addition to lots of bears, Alaska also has plenty of bear-viewing companies. Most trips require a bush plane flight, often across Cook Inlet to Katmai National Park and Preserve, where the world-famous Brooks Falls are an annual gathering place for dozens of brown bears. (Brown and grizzly bears are essentially the same; brown bear is the term generally associated with coastal bears, which get larger thanks to a more calorie-dense diet. Grizzly bears live in the Interior.) Grizzly bears also are frequently spotted by visitors to Denali National Park while on one of the bus tours. Private vehicles are not allowed beyond Mile 15 of the Park Road.

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