Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore set sail on her first voyage for her inaugural Alaskan season. But it was also a celebration for the line as it was the first cruise from the American brand in some 500 days.
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 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.
This week, 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 US$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.”
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 northern hemisphere summer, the Mountain Top Gondola will take guests to the top of Hoonah Mountain at 487.6 metres of elevation, where kilometres 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 over a kilometre from the Alaska native community of Hoonah, travellers 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 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.