Northwest Passage

On mission: Northern Lights adventure

The cruise group for StuckatTheAirport.com is on a bucket list assignment in Norway with Viking Cruises.

Much of our time has been spent crusing fjords, bundling up for late-night treks to dark areas searching for the Northern Lights, and visiting small museums.

One of the favorite museum stops has been the Polar Museum in Tromso, Norway.

A bust of famed explorer Roald Amundsen is outside the museum. And one of the foremost testimonies told in the museum is that of Amundsen’s lifestyles and paintings within the polar regions at the start of the 20 th century. 

“With the passage of the Northwest Passage, the journey to the South Pole, and the overflight over the North Pole, Amundsen significantly placed Norway at the map as a leading state within the exploration of the polar areas,” the museum rightly boasts.

Among the various items on view inside the museum, these stood out.

 Amundsen turned into the first to efficiently navigate the North-West Passage by means of boat, on a voyage that lasted from 1903 to 1906. This razor was with him on that journey. Below is a taxidermy canine, one in every of at the least 20 that become on that ship.

More snaps and tales from this journey will follow.

North to Alaska? The rush is on.

ALASKA LAKE HOOD SEAPLANE BASE

It’s no longer Klondike-generation gold nuggets they’re after, however the gold that comes from mining tourism.

Airlines, cruise organizations and chains which includes Cabela’s and the Hard Rock Cafe are heading north to Alaska hoping to cash in on a rising tide of traffic to the Land of the Midnight Sun.

After 3 consecutive years of increase, Alaska’s vacationer rely reached an all-time high of nearly 2 million visitors among May 1, 2013, and April 30, 2014, in keeping with the Alaska Division of Economic Development.

Those 1,961,700 traffic beat the 2007-20008 file by using five,000 people.

“For many country wide brands along with Hard Rock, Alaska felt too some distance away to be relevant to increasing a country wide presence and lots of thought it would be too hard to run a a hit department inside the kingdom,” stated Calum MacPherson, region vice president of operations at Hard Rock International, “however we’ve seen a shift in current years.”

Hard Rock now sees Anchorage as a “thriving, up-and-coming town this is uniquely positioned with a growing and flourishing cruise commercial enterprise” he said. He additionally stated that the neighborhood population turned into indexed through the Census Bureau as having the kingdom’s 2nd-maximum median income in 2011.

After a soft starting early this summer, the Hard Rock Cafe Anchorage could have a grand opening Sept. 19 at its downtown Anchorage vicinity at Fourth Avenue and E Street, that's where the lengthy-distance Iditarod sled canine race starts every 12 months.

Hard Rock Cafe Anchorage_courtesy Hard Rock International

Earlier this yr, Cabela’s opened a 100,000-square-foot save in Anchorage selling hunting, fishing and outside equipment with natural world shows, an aquarium, indoor archery range, a mountain replica, deli, fudge save and other tourist-pleasant points of interest on-website online. Bass Pro Shops, with a wetlands nature middle, filled animals, an aquarium and different tourist-friendly features, opened an outpost in July.

The new tourism report for Alaska was boosted by using will increase inside the wide variety of cruise visitors, more air provider, boom in iciness travel and an aggressive nation-led tourism advertising marketing campaign, said Joe Jacobson, director of the nation’s Division of Economic Development.

Close to one million traffic toured Alaska through cruise ship ultimate 12 months, lured by first rate surroundings, no longer to mention a discount within the nation’s passenger head tax from $46 to $34.50.

“After that, many ships returned to Alaska and new ships entered the market,” Jacobson said. Holland America brought departures that delivered 6 percent greater visitors in 2013 over 2012, Celebrity Cruises despatched one in every of its new Solstice Class ships to Alaska for the primary time and new ships entered the marketplace, he stated.

Increased air service helped Alaska enhance tourism numbers as nicely. Virgin America and Icelandair entered the market with carrier to Anchorage, and numerous other vendors (JetBlue, United and Delta,) elevated the variety of their Alaskan flights.

One range that isn’t growing is the age of the average tourist.

The most recent Visitor Statistics Program file that checked out demographics (2011-2012) located that the common age reduced barely, from 51.6 to 50.7, among 2006 and 2011.

“The glaciers took my breath away,” said Renee Brotman, a management educate and organizational representative from Goodyear, Arizona, who these days visited Alaska on a cruise and is already planning a return experience. “Juneau and Ketchikan are such captivating small cities. You can stand in the center of the street and look up and spot glorious mountains all around you.”

Looking ahead, Alaska’s Division of Economic Development doesn’t do a formal tourism forecast. “But because changes in cruise ship deployment have a sizable impact on the Alaska tourist market—51 percent of yr-round site visitors and 59 percent of the summer time marketplace—cruise enterprise schedules for Alaska provide an amazing indicator of what to expect,” said Caryl McConkie, the enterprise’s improvement specialist.

Cruise Lines International Association Alaska anticipated that the kingdom will see 972,000 cruise site visitors in the course of 2014, compared with 999,600 for the duration of 2013, due in component to the redeployment of Princess ships to Asia.

“Strong early bookings for 2015 suggest that we may additionally make up for some of the lack of passengers in 2014,” McConkie said, “Princess is replacing the Island Princess with the bigger Ruby Princess in 2015, increasing decrease berth potential by just over 1,000 passengers consistent with voyage.”

Climate alternate would possibly assist the 2016 cruise season warm up as well.

Since the 1990s, day trip-fashion cruise businesses such as Polar Cruises, have provided sailings on smaller ships (with as much as 199 passengers) that go away traditionally plied Alaska waters to discover Iceland, Greenland and sections of the Northwest Passage, which connects the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans.

In 2016, Crystal Cruises plans to be the primary luxury line to navigate the Northwest Passage course.

During a cruise from Aug. sixteen to Sept. 17, 2016, the sixty eight,000-ton Crystal Serenity, which contains 1,070 passengers, will tour from Anchorage/Seward to New York City, through Arctic waterways traditionally now not navigable by using massive ships.

On its internet site, Crystal explains that a cruise is now feasible because the “amount of ice inside the Northwest Passage has declined drastically through the years, in particular on the stop of the summer season within the southern reaches of the Passage,” developing a window of time whilst its thirteen-deck vessel may have minimum chance of going for walks into “ice concentrations.”

Prices for the voyage begin at $19,975 per person.

(My story approximately tourism in Alaska first seemed on CNBC Road Warrior).