Holland America schedules two stops in Wrangell in 2024

As the old saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life,” and Wrangell must have made a good impression for Holland America to change its menu for 2024.

The cruise line made a late-scheduled stop near the end of the 2022 season, bringing more than 2,300 passengers and crew members to town aboard the Noordam. Now, Holland America has added two stops in Wrangell for the 2024 season for a more “diverse itinerary.”

It’s the first time the company has included Wrangell in its pre-season advertising. The cruise line runs six ships on its Alaska tours.

The Nieuw Amsterdam will visit Wrangell on May 16, 2024, as part of a 14-day, roundtrip voyage out of Vancouver, British Columbia. The Westerdam will come to town July 4, 2024. That cruise is a 28-day Arctic voyage running from June 9 to July 7, 2024, stopping in 14 different ports.

“In looking for new ports to combine with familiar stops on the new monthlong Arctic Circle itinerary, we decided to add several ports that we have not typically visited to add variety to the cruise experience and allow guests to experience new locations, like Wrangell, so they can immerse themselves in local scenery, food and tradition,” said Erik Elvejord, director of public relations for Holland America Line.

All three ships are 936 feet long and 105.8 feet wide. Whereas the Noordam has a passenger capacity of 1,916, the Westerdam can accommodate 1,964 and the Nieuw Amsterdam can accommodate 2,106. That doesn’t include the hundreds of crew members it takes to run the ships. Fred Angerman, the Wrangell port director for Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, said those ships are within 50 feet in length of what City Dock can handle.

Angerman said a representative from Holland America had come to visit Wrangell after the Noordam’s stop last September.

“I thought it was kind of a test cruise,” he said. “They wanted to see how the ship fit at the dock, I’m pretty sure.” The size of City Dock doesn’t matter in the case of the Westerdam’s July 4 stop since it would be required to drop anchor farther out due to the holiday activities happening on and around the dock.

Wrangell could accommodate larger ships like the ones in the Holland America fleet on occasion, Angerman said, but it would need to reevaluate if the town became a more popular destination.

“My feeling is you have to have a balance,” he said. “Here in Wrangell, if you had those big vessels coming in every day or four times a week, it might start stressing things. … You need to be prepared for certain scenarios (like medical emergencies).”

Wrangell’s usual schedule of cruise ships typically only carry anywhere around 50 passengers up to almost 700. The 2022 season had ships with accommodations for about 19,000 passengers come to town, a little lower than 21,500 in 2019, pre-pandemic.

This year, ships of various sizes are tentatively scheduled to make 101 stops in Wrangell, starting with the first one on May 11 with the 186-passenger Ocean Victory and ending Oct. 8 with the 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey. The season’s schedule isn’t finalized yet.

Elvejord said Holland America is working further in advance to announce cruise offerings “to allow guests time to plan and choose their ideal voyage, as trips to Alaska and the Arctic Circle are on many guests’ bucket lists.”

Scheduling their stops that far in advance is also helping Wrangell’s tourism industry when it comes to planning. Caitlin Cardinell, executive director of the Stikine River Jet Boat Association, said they were unable to pitch their offerings to Holland America for last year’s stop due to the late scheduling announcement.

Knowing in advance the dates and passenger counts for the ships aids the association in pitching its services to the cruise lines. For example, jet boat operators can take cruise passengers to Anan Wildlife Observatory or on tours of the LeConte Glacier.

“The amount of passengers we can carry really depends on how long the ship is in port,” Cardinell said. “We hope to carry as many as we can offer. At one point, Wrangell got a ship that size once a week, and it was received warmly by the city. I hope that it remains the case for these rare, big-ship stops in the future.”

Due to the addition of Wrangell to Holland America’s stops in 2024, the cruise line thinks it will entice its passengers to visit again.

“We anticipate many of our guests will be returning to Alaska because of the diverse itinerary,” Elvejord said.


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