Big Changes Coming to Alaska

Norwegian Bliss – The hull of the ship is decorated by Wyland, an artist known for his marine life murals

The Alaska Cruising season is in full swing, and here at Adventures With Anthony we are celebrating Alaska Week. Come back everyday this week for a new article about Alaska Cruises, and find out why Alaska is not only our personal favorite cruise destination, but also the most popular cruise destination for our clients.

Today’s post is all about the changes coming to Alaska. Read on for some of the new experiences, ships, and ports coming to Alaska for the 2018 and 2019 cruising season.

Two Big New Ships
Everything’s bigger in Texas Alaska

Both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean are sending some of their biggest and newest ships to Alaska. Norwegian Bliss is a brand new ship that was just delivered to Norwegian Cruise Line last month. At 168,000 tons the Bliss is Norwegian’s largest ship, and she is already in Alaska. The Bliss is a great ship for families as well as active travelers. The ship has a massive water park and a two deck high go-kart racing track. In another first for Norwegian, the Bliss has a modern Texas style BBQ restaurant that will feature live country music. That’s music from the second biggest state, playing on cruises in the biggest state, on board Norwegian’s biggest ship. That’s a lot of bigs! For 2018, the Bliss is the largest ship to have ever sailed Alaska cruises from any line, but not for long.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class ship, with the North Star Observation Pod extended

For the 2019 cruise season, Royal Caribbean will take the crown for largest ship in Alaska when Ovation of the Seas arrives in Seattle. Ovation of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class, and is just slightly larger than the Norwegian Bliss. Ovation of the Seas also has some great attractions on board, including the iFly Indoor Skydiving and North Star. The North Star a large glass pod that extends 300 feet above the ship and offers stunning 360 degree views of your surroundings. This pod officially holds the record for “Highest Viewing Deck on a Cruise Ship” and will be a welcome addition to Alaska cruises.

Both Bliss and Ovation can carry over 4,000 passengers on average with almost 5,000 passengers at maximum capacity. This is nearly double the amount of passengers on other ships sailing Alaska, so there can be some crowds in port when these ships are docked.

New Port Stops

We have already discussed how Holland America is the only cruise company docking in Anchorage this season, but there are a few other port changes as well. Several ships will be adding Ketchikan to their list of stops, including the Carnival Splendor which will visit Ketchikan only once in 2018; the final stop on a 14 night round trip cruise from Long Beach, CA.

There are also some smaller ships that will be running Alaska cruises this year. If you are looking for something a little more intimate there is the Windstar Star Legend (208 passengers), Silver Seas Silver Explorer (132 passengers) or American Dream American Constellation (175 passengers)

Windstar’s Star Legend represents Windstar’s return to Alaska after being out of the region for the past 20 years. The all-suite ship is kicking off the all new Signature Expeditions Program. This program takes cruisers closer than ever to Alaska with zodiac and kayak tours of the coastline.

Make sure you come back tomorrow for our next entry in Alaska Cruise Week. And if you’re already ready to book your next Alaska adventure, reach out and let us help you plan your new favorite cruise.

April 21st is Free Park Day at the National Parks

Did you know that April 21st is part of Free Entrance Days in the National Parks? That means that participating national parks that normally have an entrance fee will be free to enter. April 21st also kicks off National Park Week, which will last until April 29th. During this time the national parks will be hosting a number of different events and activities. Some of these activities will include National Junior Ranger Day and an Earth Day celebration. In addition, April 22nd is the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System and the Wild & Scenic Rivers System. With so much to do and explore, why not take a mini vacation to some of these national parks this spring?

No matter where in the United States you live, there are plenty of National Parks available for you to explore and enjoy. Here in Nevada we have a number of parks within driving distance, spread across Nevada, California, Idaho, Utah, and the entire western United States. Below are some of our favorite parks that are no more than a day’s drive away from most cities in Nevada.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon

Lake Mead Ariel View

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the parks included in the Free Entrance Days. Normally, the entrance fee for Lake Mead is $20 per vehicle. So April 21st would be a great time to save some money and enjoy everything that Lake Mead has to offer. Some of the available activities include canoeing, kayaking, hiking, camping and much more. Make sure you also check out Hoover Dam while you are in the area. Hoover Dam is actually what created Lake Mead back in 1935.

Aside from the National Park itself, Lake Mead puts you just 24 miles away from Las Vegas, which has plenty of things to see and do as well. Alternatively, you can reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in four hours, or the North Rim in 4 and a half. If you are planning on visiting both parks, the best bet would be to do the Grand Canyon on April 21st. The entrance fee for the Grand Canyon is $30 per vehicle, so you’d save an extra $10 per vehicle compared to Lake Mead.

Death Valley

Marble Canyon in Death Valley National Park

Also on the list is Death Valley. This famous park is 3 hours from Lake Mead or 6 hours from northern Nevada. The normal fee for Death Valley is $25 per vehicle, and the park is vast, at over 3 million acres of wilderness. Death Valley is filled with some amazing hiking trails and camping opportunities. The park has salt flats, canyon trails, sand dunes, and desert peaks; enough to thrill any hiker. Even if you aren’t much for hiking, Death Valley has hundreds of miles of roads with many of the most famous parts of the park visible by car. Whether you want to drive or hike, Death Valley is a great park to visit.

If you do go down to Death Valley, be sure to stop by Baker, California. This small town has only 735 residents, but is home to the World’s Tallest Thermometer. This thermometer was erected in 1991 to honor the highest recorded temperature in Death Valley, 134°. Make sure you bring plenty of water if you go hiking here!

Great Basin National Park

Bristlecone Pines at Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada has no entrance fee, so every day is Free Park Day. There are some activities, such as the Lehman Cave Tours, that cost extra, but they are worth it. Great Basin is particularly famous for the incredibly clear night skies, and their astronomy programs. The park also has some wonderful hiking trails, camping areas, and fishing spots.

Great Basin has something to do every season of the year. In the spring there are some wonderful opportunities for wildflower viewing. The summer opens up some excellent caving, camping, and hiking opportunities. Spend the fall gathering pinyon pine nuts, up to 25 pounds per household. And in the winter, go skiing or snowshoeing across the natural, ungroomed trails.

If you want to make a weekend trip out of it, there are many parks in neighboring states that will be participating in the free entrance day including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Crater Lake, and more. More info on which parks are included can be found on the National Park Service website here.

What national parks are on your list to visit?