Holland America Princess plans tourism options for Interior Alaska

Published: Jun. 1, 2021 at 4:39 PM AKDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 4:40 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, which was signed into law on May 24, allows cruises traveling from Washington to Southeast Alaska to bypass Canadian ports on their journey.

However, cruises traveling to the Gulf of Alaska remain cancelled.

These cruises typically bring thousands of tourists into the Alaskan Interior every year.

To make up for the loss of a cruise season in this region, tourism company Holland America Princess (HAP) developed a plan to bring visitors to the Fairbanks community. “We were very disappointed when the Gulf of Alaska cruise routes were cancelled,” Dave McGlothlin, Vice President of Tour Operations for HAP, said.

Due to COVID-19, HAP was prevented from running any cruise routes in 2020. According to McGlothlin, “It was catastrophic, in that the entire industry, not just Holland America Princess and the Carnival corporation, but every cruise line has been shut down for basically a year.”

HAP is looking to focus its Fairbanks efforts this summer on the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel, who, according to McGlothlin, “actually stayed open the entire time during the pandemic, so all last summer and this winter they’ve been open and doing a great job.”

On Friday, May 28, HAP also opened the McKinley Chalet Resort and the Kenai Princess Lodge for the summer.

Motorcoaches will run between all three locations based on demand, and some vacation packages will offer rail tours.

And, McGlothlin said, interest among tourists is “exceeding our expectations, for sure. I think everyone felt there was pent-up demand, and that people were itching to travel after being cooped up for the last year, and we’re certainly seeing that in our booking demands.”

HAP’s summer season is expected to run through Labor Day. “It’s a little bit skinnier of a season, shorter of a season than we historically run, but still very excited to be open.”

And indications are looking good for a full season in 2022.

Those interested in summer employment opportunities with the Alaska tourism industry can find options here.

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