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Norwegian Cruise Line to expand in Alaska

Norwegian Cruise Line is planning a big expansion in Alaska for 2013, with three ships in the region for the first time since 2009.

The line today announced the 1,936-passenger Norwegian Sun will join the 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel and 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl in Alaska for the 2013 summer season, sailing seven-night, one-way itineraries between Vancouver, British Columbia and Whittier, Alaska.

As part of the expansion, the line also is introducing land packages that can be combined with Norwegian Sun’s itinerary to create a longer Alaska vacation.

“There is a lot of demand for increased capacity (in Alaska) and more varied and unique cruises,” Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan says in a statement accompanying the announcement.

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Sheehan referenced Alaska’s decision last year to significantly scale back a controversial tax on cruisers as a factor in the line deciding to add a third ship in the state. The line had cited the tax when pulling out a ship after the 2009 season. “With the strides made by the state government, we felt the time was right,” Sheehan said.

The Norwegian Sun will sail two different itinaries in Alaska. A northbound itinerary from Vancouver to Whittier will include a visit to Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier, with stops in Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau. A southbound itinerary from Whittier to Vancouver will include a visit to Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier, with stops in Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Icy Strait Point.

Both the Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Pearl will sail seven-night itineraries out of Seattle that include stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan as well as Victoria, British Columbia. The Norwegian Jewel will make a stop at Sawyer Glacier. The Norwegian Pearl will visit Glacier Bay.

The new land tours available as add-ons to the Norwegian Sun sailings will range in length from four to six days. There will be four in all, each featuring two nights in Denali National Park. Norwegian says more details on the tours will be announced early next year.

The line says its 2013 Alaska cruises will go on sale to members of its Latitudes Rewards loyalty program today and to the general public on Thursday. Read about changes to Norwegian’s loyalty program.

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