Friday, 11 September 2009

Mickey in Alaska?

It seemed to be the worst-kept secret in cruising, but Disney Cruise Line has finally announced they will be taking one of their ships to Alaska for the first time in 2011.

The House of Mouse has dabbled with the US West Coast a couple of times (in summer 2005 and '08) but a move to an Alaskan programme had been conspicuous by its absence, despite persistent rumours DCL was considering the idea.

Now Mickey and Co have finally charted a course for America's 49th state, with a summer series on Disney Wonder out of Vancouver from May 3 to Sept 6, 2011.

The 7-night cruises will visit the Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, with stops at the latter trio and fares starting at $939/person

The Wonder will sail a total of 18 seven-night cruises in Alaska, and also be equipped with a brand new venue called Outlook Café during a dry dock in October. Located high atop deck 10, the 2,500sq ft, 65-seat Café is a stylish retreat for a beverage or cocktail, with curved glass windows and panoramic views. The design uses contemporary Art Deco inspiration and an elegant spiral staircase will connect it with the existing Cove Café one deck below.

The Alaska programme will be sandwiched by two separate series based in Los Angeles, from Jan 23 to April 27 and Sept 25 to Dec 18, to the Mexican Riviera, starting at $639/person (substantially different to Alaska!).

Disney Magic returns to the Mediterranean for the summer 2011, sailing 10 and 11-night itineraries out of Barcelona, which means the new Disney Dream will be left to run their typical Caribbean and Bahamas cruises that summer.

It is great news for the region of Alaska, which will see a slight downturn in business in 2010 but it will be interesting to see how well positioned Disney can make their cruises in the first season in an area that is notoriously difficult to predict for weather and shore excursions.

With almost two years to prepare, they should provide a neat alternative to the traditional Alaska cruise, as offered by the likes of Princess, Holland America and others, but I remember NCL having a number of teething problems when they started in 1994. Watch this space, as they say!