Iconic cities, dramatic scenery, a plethora of wildlife: it’s time to discover the continent that has it all.
From the colour-splashed coastline of New England to the raw, untamed beauty of British Columbia and otherworldly Alaskan landscapes – the sheer size of North America makes for truly extraordinary experiences.
And the number of cruise lines offering cruises down the East and West of the US and up to Canada and Alaska is on the up, as travellers look to broaden their horizons away from the popular Mediterranean and Caribbean voyages.
This year marks the 150th anniversary since US president Andrew Johnson bought Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, and today it’s one of the last wildernesses – and a bucket-list destination for many.
Most Alaskan cruises sail along the Inside Passage, a spectacular labyrinth of mountains, islands, fjords and glaciers – home to sea lions, humpback whales and porpoises.
Among the cruise lines that regularly visit Alaska in the summer season are Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas and Holland America Line.
“We have more capacity in Alaska than ever before,” says Lynn Narraway, managing director, UK & Ireland, for Holland America Line. “This year, we deployed the Oosterdam to cruise from Seattle, which means a total of seven ships sailing.”
In recent years, an increasing number of smaller ships have been introduced to Alaska. Seabourn returned to the region this year for the first time in 15 years, with Seabourn Sojourn sailing 11-, 12- and 14-day cruises between Vancouver and Seward.
And looking ahead, Norwegian Cruise Line is taking new vessel, the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss, to Seattle in the spring of 2018 for a season of cruises to Alaska.
Elsewhere, Azamara Club Cruises is sailing to the 49th state for the first time in 2019, with 11 voyages taking in the destination, and the 2,636-passenger Golden Princess will join Princess Cruises’ existing six-ship fleet in Alaska next year.
Heading east: cruising the edge
Growing in popularity are cruises along the northeast coast, heading from New York to Quebec City, taking in the orange, red and gold hues of New England’s Atlantic Coast and calling at Canada’s maritime provinces.
“Canada and New England are popular destinations,” says Wendy Lahmich, director of sales UK and Ireland, HAL, which has four ships in the region for the 2018 season.
“Shorter seven-night itineraries are ideal to combine with a stay in Montreal or Boston, while a 14-night Collectors Cruise on the Veendam offers Canada and New England, plus a stay in Hamilton, Bermuda.”
New for October 2017 from NCL is an Eastern Canada and Quebec cruise from New York, calling at Charlottetown – the capital of Prince Edward Island – and Quebec City which is a great sell as a longer stay.
For clients who are after something different, sell a voyage inland between New York and Montreal. North American Highways offers a 13-night trip aboard the Grande Caribe, which is small enough to cruise the Hudson River and the Erie Canal to Lake Ontario.
Princess Cruises offers 14-day cruise-tours that combine a week in Canada – two days are spent on the Rocky Mountaineer train through the Canadian Rockies – with a seven-night voyage. Ports of call are Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay national park, College fjord, Anchorage. Prices from £4,122pp cruise-only for a May 5, 2018 departure.
ALL THAT JAZZ
Jazz Days and Cabaret Nights aboard Crystal Serenity celebrate the history of this fantastic music genre on the 14-day Colonial Passage from Quebec to Fort Lauderdale, departing on 13 October 2017. Ports of call include Maine, Boston, Rhode Island, New York, Baltimore and Savannah, Georgia. Prices from £3,563 per person, including flights and transfers.
JEWEL IN THE CROWN
We love this itinerary, and your clients are also bound to jump at the chance to experience the 13-day Coastal Gems of America – Northbound voyage by Hurtigruten, which sets sail from Miami, and goes on to Charleston, New York, Rhode Island, Boston and Maine before completing its journey in Halifax, Canada. Prices from £1,836 per person; available from 10 April 2018.
For the first time, Carnival Cruise Line will offer a 14-day Alaskan adventure round-trip from Long Beach, California, on 2 September 2017. Highlights include a visit to Glacier Bay and the line’s first visit to Icy Strait Point. Carnival Miracle will also call at Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, Sitka and Vancouver. Cruise-only prices start at £1,147.
WHALE OF A TIME
Explore Canada’s Atlantic Coast on a 28-night voyage aboard Saga Sapphire, departing on 21 September 2018 from Dover and calling at the Azores, Halifax, Cape Breton Island, Petite Ile au Marteau, Quebec and Montreal and Halifax. Experts will also be on board the ship to lead whale-spotting sessions en route. Prices from £6,091pp.
Viking Cruises’ 11-day Alaska and the Inside Package sails from Vancouver to Seward, with seven guided tours along the way designed to immerse passengers in the local culture. The excursions give guests the opportunity to meet local Tlingit people and hear about what the region was like when it was part of Russia. Prices from £4,465.
ICE ICE BABY
Celebrity Cruises offers a nine-night Alaska Hubbard Glacier fly/cruise, which includes return flights from Heathrow to Vancouver and a seven-night cruise aboard Celebrity Infinity. Setting sail on 27 May 2018, the round-trip sails from Vancouver and calls at Inside Passage, Icy Strait, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan. Prices from £2,564 per person.
Taking in America’s West Coast, Silversea’s Silver Explorer departs San Diego on an 11-day voyage to Vancouver on 2 May 2018. Ports of call include: Santa Cruz Island, Monterey, San Francisco, Astoria, Rainier, Port Angeles, Olympia, Anacortes and Friday Harbour. Prices from £4,680 per person.