Welcome to the State of Alaska Travel News Bulletin. The tourism office sends this out periodically to keep media up-to-date on Alaska tourism and travel news. Media are invited to call (800) 327-9372 or visit www.TravelAlaska.com/media for more information.
State of Alaska
Dec. 31, 2012

In this January Travel News Bulletin you will find:

1. 2013 Alaska travel forecast
2. New products and tours
3. New events and 2013 anniversaries

2013 Alaska travel forecast

With another year of positive growth in the tourism industry coming to a close, Alaska is looking forward to 2013, a year that will see increased cruise ship capacity and new flight routes, offering even more options to travelers heading north. A total of 31 large cruise ships are scheduled to call 396 times in Alaska in 2013, a gain of one ship and 19 trips for a projected total passenger gain of 65,647. The Celebrity Solstice, a larger ship, is replacing the Celebrity Infinity and the 700-passenger Oceania Regatta is returning to Alaska after ceasing its Alaska sailings in 2012. The Grand Princess is replacing the Sea Princess, adding about 700 passengers and the Amsterdam returns to a 7-day Inside Passage sailing, which will double its visits.
2013 will also see a strong increase in airline access with the introduction of Icelandair’s seasonal direct flights between Anchorage and Reykjavik, giving visitors and Alaskans access to more than 20 destinations in Europe. On the domestic front, Alaska Airlines is now offering twice-daily flights between Anchorage and Salt Lake City, JetBlue will add a Seattle to Anchorage service beginning in May 2013 and United Airlines announced plans for a new seasonal nonstop service between Fairbanks and Chicago beginning in June 2013.
“The expansion of cruise capacity and additional air service will make 2013 a strong year for Alaska’s visitor industry,” said Lorene Palmer, director of the Division of Economic Development for the State of Alaska. “Travelers will find that Alaska is more attractive than ever given the wide variety of large and small ship options, new domestic and international air service and a host of new tours and attractions to enhance their Alaska vacation.”
Below are some highlights of new tours and products, anniversaries and events that visitors to Alaska can look forward to in 2013. For more information on planning a trip to Alaska, visit www.TravelAlaska.com.

New products and tours

  • Visitors can immerse themselves in Alaska’s ecosystems and learn about the state’s parks, forests and refuges with Alaska Geographic’s 2013 lineup of field seminars and youth programs. The courses are designed for those looking for ways to connect to Alaska’s vast wilderness. www.alaskageographic.org
  • Holland America Line is expanding its Alaska program with four new 10-to-20 day round-trip Seattle CruiseTours, offering guests the convenience of combining an Inside Passage cruise with an in-depth overland tour via motorcoach. www.hollandamerica.com
  • Rust's Flying Service is offering travelers a pilot for a day, their own experienced Alaska bush pilot as a personal tour guide for six hours. There are three suggested itineraries that include a variety of customizable options or guests can choose their own adventure.  www.flyrusts.com
  • Alaska Wildland Adventures is kicking off a new tour for 2013 that introduces guests to Alaska birding, teaching birding basics and how to spot, identify and classify various species in Kenai Fjords and Denali national parks. The itinerary also includes wildlife viewing and options for guided hikes, kayak trips and small boat explorations. www.alaskawildland.com
  • Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours has new snowmobile tours in the Susitna Valley. The customizable, multi-day tours explore the backcountry in the shadow of Mount McKinley and include overnights in area lodges and at a luxurious cabin. www.youralaskavacation.com
  • Bald Mountain Air, based in Homer, is now offering once-in-a-lifetime trips to Alaska’s Arctic coast to observe polar bears in their natural habitat. Day trips depart from Anchorage on a two-hour flight to the Native village of Kaktovik on Barter Island. Tours run on weekends mid-September to late October. baldmountain.powweb.com
  • Seward’s Adventure Sixty North, LLC began taking travelers on snow coach tours to the Exit Glacier area in late 2012 onboard a heated, 12-person snowcat. The adventure company is the only outfitter in the state licensed to take snowcats into a national park. www.adventure60.com
  • Camp Denali & North Face Lodge, located 90 miles in Denali National Park and Preserve, has expanded its 2013 Special Emphasis Series offered at North Face Lodge. Throughout the summer, specialists are invited to share their expertise on a wide variety of topics with guests during the evening program. campdenali.com/live/page/special-emphasis-series
  • 1st Alaska Outdoor School will be taking guests on guided tours of the Ice Alaska park during the BP World Ice Art Championships Feb. 26 – March 31, 2013 in Fairbanks. The tour includes narrated transportation around the park and interaction with a local ice artist. www.1stalaskaoutdoorschool.com
 Inside Passage
  • With Alaska Sea Cycle Tours, travelers can set off on an aquatic adventure of water biking in a nearby cove in Ketchikan. This tour takes guests to a wildlife estuary and on to the Tongass Narrows while learning how Alaskans utilize the land and sea. www.alaskaseacycletours.com
  • New in 2013 is the Evening Chef’s Table at the Alaska Fish House in Ketchikan. The Chef’s Table will be offered every evening and features dishes highlighting fresh Alaska seafood in a rotating four-course menu. www.alaskafishhouse.com
  • Pack Creek Bear Tours in Juneau takes guests to Admiralty Island, home to more than 1,500 brown bears, for a five-hour bear viewing adventure to watch and photograph bears close-up. www.packcreekbeartours.com
  • Alaskan Food Tours takes guests on a three-hour culinary adventure through the streets of Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. From dining on seafood to satisfying a sweet tooth and taking in a view of the city, the tour provides a well-rounded experience of the sights, tastes and culture of Alaska. alaskanfoodtours.com
  • Pearson’s Pond Luxury Inn will offer a new tour to Hoonah for its guests in 2013. This day trip will include airfare and transportation to the Native village for bear viewing and a ride on the world’s longest and highest ZipRider zipline at Icy Strait Point. www.pearsonspond.com
  • Chief Shakes Tribal House, a historic replica of a 19th century Tlingit tribal house on Shakes Island in Wrangell Harbor, is celebrating its recent renovation with a rededication and reopening celebration on May 3-4, 2013. www.shakesisland.com
  • Small-ship cruise company InnerSea Discoveries has added an in-depth look at Alaska’s Native cultures with the introduction of the Adventure Heritage program. The program combines onboard educational presentations with tours to various historical sites at each port of call. www.innerseadiscoveries.com
  • Alaskan Dream Cruises is introducing a new 62-passenger vessel, the Baranof Dream, and a new 11-day itinerary featuring extended exploration of Chichagof Island, Baranof Island and Red Bluff in addition to other ports of call in the Inside Passage. www.alaskandreamcruises.com
  • Jewish travelers looking for a new way to celebrate an anniversary or a unique kind of worship experience can take advantage of Panim Hadashot’s visitors’ program in Juneau. Local Rabbi Dov Gartenberg will create personalized experiences for clients, ranging from celebrating a special anniversary under a Huppah in the Tongass Rainforest to an outdoor worship experience consisting of an hour-long walking service. www.panimhadashot.org
  • Unalaska’s resident birding and naturalist guide, Suzi Golodoff, is now offering year-round tours highlighting the various birds in the Aleutians and the natural history of the Unalaska/Dutch Harbor area. www.unalaska.info
Far North
  • Visitors to Nome can embark on various adventures with the help of Akau Alaska Gold and Resort in 2013. Activities range from gold prospecting tours of historic mines, expeditions to nearby hot springs and Native villages to hiking and salmon fishing. akaugold.com

New events and 2013 anniversaries
  • Alaskans and visitors will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak, with a number of activities in 2013. A special National Parks exhibit at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North and a sustainable summits symposium in Talkeetna, Sept. 8-11, are just a couple of events to celebrate this historic milestone. www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm
  • Celebrating 50 years of service in 2013, the Alaska Marine Highway System is the only marine route with the designation of National Scenic Byway and All-American Road. AMHS will hold community events in each region of the state they serve from May through Sept. 2013 during its golden anniversary. www.ferryalaska.com/50years
  • On Feb. 2, 2013, up to 50 mushers and their canine teams will embark on the 30th running of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon. During the 2013 race, teams will gather at the starting line in Whitehorse and traverse 1,000 miles of harsh, frozen terrain along the same historical mail delivery and gold-rush-era routes prospectors took from the late 1800s into the early 20th century. Teams are scheduled to reach the finish line in Fairbanks around Feb. 16. yukonquest.com
  • 2013 marks the 30th start of the world’s longest snowmobile race, the Iron Dog Race. The 2,000-mile snowmobile race begins in Big Lake on Feb. 15 and ends in Fairbanks on Feb. 23. www.irondograce.org
  • Celebrate the 40th annual Festival of Native Arts in Fairbanks Feb. 21-23 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. The festival features workshops, daily performances and vendors showcasing various Alaska Native arts and crafts. fna.community.uaf.edu
  • Alaska’s Christmas town of North Pole was recently selected to host the 2013 International Federation of Sleddog Sports Winter World Championship sled dog races Feb. 26 – March 17. Races occur every two years, alternating between European and North American venues, bringing together the most talented dog mushers and skijorers from around the globe. sleddogsport.net
  • 2013 will commemorate the quarter-century anniversary of the “Friendship Flight” from Nome to Provideniya, Siberia, signaling the beginning of an open border relationship between Alaska and Russia after the Cold War. ltgov.alaska.gov
Copyright © 2012 State of Alaska, All rights reserved.