National Park Service announces Glacier Bay cruise plan

Cruise ship approaches Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. (National Park Service)

A cruise ship approaches Margerie Glacier inside the 3.5-million acre national park. (Photo courtesy National Park Service)

The National Park Service announced a concession plan Friday that approves seven cruise lines to visit Southeast Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve over the next decade.

The current practice of permitting no more than two ships a day in the park will be preserved under the 10-year plan, park officials said.

President Calvin Coolidge declared Glacier Bay and surrounding wilderness a national monument in 1925.  It’s only accessible by air and water, and most visitors experience the park from a cruise ship.

“(Cruise visitors) spend a total of about eight hours inside the park waters,” concessions specialist David Lucas said Monday from the park service’s regional business office in Anchorage. “It’s just a very unique opportunity for these folks to get into the park.”

The concessions plan includes a return of Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival-owned cruises including Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.

But the plan also includes newcomers Royal Caribbean Cruises, Viking Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line.

“It’s just a wonderful place to bring all these numbers of people in at one time,” Lucas added.

The concession contracts — once signed by the cruise lines — would go into effect for the 2020 season, resulting in a total of 153 visits per year.

Officials said further details would become available once the contracts are finalized.

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