MIAMI — Norwegian Cruise Line has arrived at Icy Strait Point, Alaska, marking its triumphant return to cruise in the United States.
After setting sail from Seattle on Aug. 7 for its first season of voyages to Alaska, Norwegian Encore, the brand’s newest ship, celebrated its inaugural call to Icy Strait Point on Aug. 10 at the new Wilderness Landing pier, which was built in partnership between NCL’s parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) and Huna Totem Corporation.
A double ribbon cutting ceremony took place to officially open the new pier and the first of two gondola systems to be completed as part of the joint investment between the two corporations.
“Our return to Alaska is a monumental moment for not only NCL but for the state’s communities as well,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “The absence of cruising last year was detrimental to these communities, which lost approximately US$1.5 billion. Our return represents our continued commitment to Alaska and to the well-being of the destinations we visit.”
A vehicle-free zone, the new Wilderness Landing provides additional forest and beach areas for visitors to explore. With the opening of the new high-speed Transporter Gondola, guests now have easy access to Icy Strait Point’s first pier, Adventure Landing, where the Historic Salmon Cannery dating back to 1912 and other local attractions are located. Once completed later this summer, the Mountain Top Gondola will take guests to the top of Hoonah Mountain at 1,600 feet of elevation, where miles of new hiking trails and scenic vistas await.
Located just a mile from Hoonah, Icy Strait Point spans 23,040 acres of private beach and boasts temperate rainforest and the most accessible coastal brown bear viewing platforms in Southeast Alaska. Guests can also enjoy whale watching, kayaking and the world’s largest ZipRider zip line.
Later this week, Norwegian Encore will make its first calls to Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska before returning to Seattle to continue its season of week-long voyages to Alaska through Oct. 16, 2021.
Norwegian Cruise Line resumed cruise operations on July 25, 2021 following a more than 500-day suspension, with Norwegian Jade launching seven-day itineraries to the Greek Isles. On Aug. 15, Norwegian Gem will be the first ship in the fleet to resume operations from Miami to offer week-long voyages to the Caribbean and four-day cruises to The Bahamas, through October.
This past weekend, NCL was granted a preliminary injunction, allowing it to sail from Florida with 100% vaccination of guests and crew. In May, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial ‘vaccine passport ban’ that prohibited businesses, including cruise lines, from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
NCL is resuming operations with its SailSAFE health and safety program, which requires that all crew and guests must be fully vaccinated to embark for voyages through Oct. 31, 2021. For more details go to www.ncl.com/sail-safe.