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If you’re planning an Alaska cruise in 2022, you’d be wise to book now. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) predicts that a record-breaking 1.5 million passengers will sail in the 49th state between April and October, assuming the ongoing pandemic doesn’t lead to cruising restrictions again.
Cruise lines anticipate a flood of bookings due to a huge, pent-up demand after COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 Alaska season and then severely shortened it in 2021. Only about 115,000 cruise ship passengers visited the state this year, compared with 1.3 million in 2019.
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Travel advisers are already seeing robust bookings for the 2022 season’s cruises. Clients of Anna Hansen, of Anna’s Adventures Travel (an affiliate of KHM Travel Group) in Murrieta, California, recently requested that she book a seven-day Glacier Bay, Skagway and Juneau cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line for early next September. “But the couple had to take Oct. 1 instead. When I went to book the September sailing, I was blown away to discover the entire summer season for that particular Norwegian cruise was already sold out,” Hansen says.
To accommodate the increased demand, cruise lines are planning to dispatch larger ships and/or more of them. There will be nearly 40 ships in the large and luxury categories and dozens of small ships plying Alaskan waters next year.
If you're one of the many travelers eager to cruise there, consider a few things as you begin to plan your trip.
The best side of the ship. Cruising north from Seattle, for instance, you’ll get the best views from the starboard side of the ship. This is only important if your cruise is one way, of course.
Using a specialist. It can be overwhelming to see all the options for cruising this gorgeous state. The CLIA has a searchable database, at cruising.org, of certified cruise travel advisers who can help you plan your trip, and many don’t charge a fee. You can also find cruise experts at travelsense.org, cruiseplanners.com and other respected sites.
Spending more for a view. You may want to splurge on a balcony. It is, after all, about the scenery when you’re cruising Alaska.
Buying travel insurance. The unpredictable weather — not to mention the pandemic — can result in delays and other unexpected issues. Make sure your investment is protected.
And most importantly:
Stay up on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for cruising. The CDC currently recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated and have an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships.
Below we offer some examples of cruise lines and different styles of cruising in Alaska, followed by information on the lines’ options for land explorations and a few packing tips.