May 11, 2023 — (article courtesy of Alaska News Source / by Lauren Maxwell)
Holland America’s ship Nieuw Amsterdam cruised into the Port of Alaska under sunny skies and calm seas on Thursday. The ship is one of two that will visit Anchorage this season, with a different Holland America ship arriving in September.
Kimberly Wells, Cruise and Travel Director for Holland America, said the Nieuw Amsterdam can hold 2,300 passengers but 1,900 had signed up for the 14-day cruise. Wells said the company typically does 7-day cruises to Alaska, which are more popular among families than longer ones.
Passengers were provided shuttle busses to move into town from the port. With roughly 9 hours before they had to be back onboard, many said they planned to spend the day seeing the sights in downtown Anchorage. Others had booked excursions with local tour companies to go flightseeing or rent bikes to ride the Coastal Trail.
Carl Johnson, owner of Alaska Photo Treks, took twenty clients to various sites in Anchorage to take unique photographs. He said the cruise ship marks the official start of the summer season — which is important for many businesses.
“Alaska’s economy really is driven by visitors we saw that with the pandemic,” Johnson said. “So to have these people coming in here who are excited about Alaska, who want to experience Alaska, and take a little bit of Alaska back home with them — whether it’s with photos or things they pick up in the store — it’s really important, and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for everybody in Anchorage.”
A recent study by Visit Anchorage found cruise ship visitors to Alaska spend an average of $253 per person per day in-destination. Visit Anchorage CEO Julie Saupe said the state is expecting a record year for cruise ship passengers. Saupe said even though most ships won’t dock Anchorage, visitors who arrive at other ports like Seward or Whittier will still begin or end their trips in Anchorage.