Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), the innovator in global cruise travel with a 54-year history of breaking boundaries, celebrated its highly anticipated return to cruising in the U.S. with Norwegian Encore’s inaugural Alaska voyage and a panel discussion featuring cruise line and government officials.
The panel discussion, which was live streamed and took place at the Port of Seattle’s Pier 66, invited travellers around the world to tune in to hear firsthand the Company’s commitment to a safe resumption of operations. The panel featured Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. executives including President and CEO Frank Del Rio, Andrea DeMarco, SVP of ESG and Investor Relations and Corporate Communications, and SVP of Commercial Development Steven Moeller; NCL brand President and CEO Harry Sommer; Stephen Metruck, Executive Director of the Port of Seattle and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Chairman of Norwegian’s SailSAFE™ Global Health and Wellness Council.
The Brand’s newest innovative ship Norwegian Encore set sail from Seattle on 7 August 2021 for her first season of voyages to Alaska. Adding to the already momentous milestone, Norwegian Encore is the first in the industry to berth at the new Wilderness Landing pier at Icy Strait Point, which was built in partnership between NCL’s parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) and Huna Totem Corporation, the village corporation owned by approximately 1,400 Alaska Native shareholders with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and the Glacier Bay area. Icy Strait Point is a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of Huna Totem Corporation.
On Tuesday, 10 August 2021, a double ribbon cutting ceremony took place to officially open the new Wilderness Landing pier and the first of two gondola systems to be completed as part of the joint investment between NCLH and Huna Totem.
“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 $1.5 billion. Our return represents our continued commitment to Alaska and to the well-being of the destinations we visit. Our investment in Icy Strait Point is providing our guests with more opportunities to experience and understand the natural and cultural beauty of the destination and its people.”
A vehicle-free zone, the new Wilderness Landing provides additional forest and beach areas for visitors to explore the natural wonders of the destination. With the opening of the new high-speed Transporter Gondola, guests 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.
“Since Icy Strait Point’s inception, we’ve strived to balance the needs of our Alaska Native community with those of Alaska’s growing cruise industry and this development was a natural step for us,” said Russell Dick, chief executive officer of Huna Totem Corporation. “We are grateful to Norwegian for believing in our vision and we hope our sustainable model can lead the way for positive expansion of the cruise visitor industry in Alaska.”
With 23,040 acres of private beach and temperate rain forest to explore, Icy Strait Point offers guests the opportunity to experience authentic Alaska. The island also offers the most accessible coastal brown bear viewing platforms in Southeast Alaska, whale watching, kayaking and the world’s largest ZipRider zip line. Located just a mile from the Alaska native community of Hoonah, travelers also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture when visiting Icy Strait Point with exposure to native traditions and dances, oral histories and cooking classes.
Norwegian Encore will also make her first calls to Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska, before returning to Seattle and continuing her season of week-long voyages to Alaska through 16 October 2021.
Norwegian Cruise Line recently restarted its cruise operations on 25 July 2021 following a more than 500-day suspension, with Norwegian Jade launching seven-day itineraries to the Greek Isles. On 15 August 2021 Norwegian Gem will be the first ship in the fleet to resume operations from Miami and set sail from the new Norwegian Cruise Line Terminal at PortMiami. Through October, she will offer a selection of week-long voyages to the Caribbean and four-day cruises to the Bahamas. The fleetwide redeployment will continue in partnership with local governments and are guided by the robust protocols of the Company’s SailSAFETM health and safety program, which at its cornerstone includes that all crew and guests must be fully vaccinated to embark for voyages through 31 October 2021. Working with the leading experts of the SailSAFE Global Health and Wellness Council, the robust protocols will be regularly evaluated and modified as needed, making science-based decisions to protect guests, crew and the destinations it visits. As protocols evolve and additional information becomes available, updates will be published at www.ncl.com/sail-safe.
For more information about the Company’s award-winning 17-ship fleet and worldwide itineraries, or to book a cruise, please contact a travel professional, call 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784) or visit www.ncl.com.
Image: Norwegian Encore Debuts at Icy Strait Point, Alaska – Norwegian Encore Captain Martin Holmqvist, NCL President & CEO Harry Sommer, Huna Totem Corporation Executives Russell Dick and Tyler Hickman