Holland America’s 780-foot-long MS Amsterdam this week became the first cruise ship in several years to dock in Anchorage, Alaska.
Despite its name, Anchorage is a poor place for anchoring. Huge tidal variations twice a day make it too tricky and shallow for large ships to get all the way into Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm, the routes that flow to the city from the Pacific Ocean. The current is so strong, thrill-seekers actually kayak and surf it.
Cruise ships generally dock at deeper water ports in Whistler, Homer or Seward – where passengers are taken into Anchorage via long, slow train or bus rides.
Anchorage merchants, stung by two years of a bad economy, welcomed the return of cruise ship passengers to their city. For most Alaska cruisers, Anchorage is merely a stopover or jumping off point, not a destination.
The 1,400-passenger Amsterdam, however, is small enough to negotiate the navigational hazards, by utilizing the tides to its advantage – but only every two weeks. It will visit the city on alternate Mondays during the summer of 2010. It is on 14-day itineraries from Seattle. Other stops are in Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway, Homer and Kodiak.
May 24, 2010