Trailblaze Alaska’s ‘Last Frontier’ with Oceania Cruises’ latest offering

For those looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and with a spirt of adventure, the glacial and gold-rush frontier of Alaska may not spring to mind, but Norwegian cruise company Oceania Cruises is offering just that this year, with what it claims is an authentic, locally curated summer offering led by community members.

Sailing from Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver, travellers looking for the unique will be drawn into local cultures and cuisines on any of the 14 announced departures between May and September this summer aboard the 656-guest Regatta.

With more than 250 tours and excursions offered in Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, Wrangell and beyond, the 49th state offers opportunities to explore glaciers, take culinary classes, visit native tribal sites, taste craft beer, and explore national parks, all within a beguiling region of natural remote beauty.

Through Oceania Cruises’ Go Local tour series, guests can participate in exclusive small group excursions, including visiting local homes and businesses and discovering generations-old traditions.

‘We’re delighted to offer our guests a fresh perspective of Alaska, one filled with touching personal moments connecting with nature, people and cuisine,’ stated Frank A. Del Rio, President of Oceania Cruises. ‘The innate beauty of our small ships, especially in a destination like Alaska aboard our intimate Regatta, allows guests access to small ports and remote harbours not offered by others.’

Highlights include wildlife-rich Klawock, a native Tlingit village for thousands of years with one of the most extensive collections of totems in the world; Wrangell with its rich Native American, Russian and American history, and fishing opportunities; Juneau, boasting glacier-trekking on Mendenhall Glacier or sea-kayaking through the coastal waterways travelled for centuries by the Aleut Native Americans, along with Alaskan Brewing Company and Chez Alaska Cooking School; and Skagway, to take in local beers after rock climbing and rappelling down steep granite cliffs or an afternoon soaring the skies in a helicopter, or taking it easier on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad trail that the gold rushers etched into the high mountain pass.

Wildlife spotting for bears, deer and bald eagles at the remote Spasski River Valley, song and storytelling, the world’s largest zip line, and crab boating are amongst the opportunities off-ship, while onboard the cruise line sells Regatta on its intimate size, culture and cuisine, and its ability to visit destinations – including Wrangell, Prince Rupert and Klawock, that other ships do not.

Which? publishes annual cruise line report

UK-based consumer group, Which?, has published its annual cruise line report.

The report, which is based on cruise passengers’ experiences on board, assessed 13 different cruise companies and rated them out of five stars across eight different categories. These included customer service, cabin space, on-board facilities, entertainment and value for money. Oceania achieved five stars in several categories and came out as the overall leader in customer satisfaction with a score of 89 percent. At the other end of the scale, Norwegian came bottom with an overall satisfaction score of 60 percent.

The figures revealed a trend towards customers favouring smaller ships with fewer passengers. Cabin space also proved a major issue with consumers and Oceania scored well in both of these categories, including five out of five stars for passenger to space ratio. Although the company’s food quality and on-board facilities also scored highly, it only managed three stars for its entertainment.

Saga, a cruise line exclusively for the over 50’s, came second on the list. 85 percent of its passengers were Very Satisfied with their cruise experience. P&O was named best of the large cruise line companies. It scored well for on-board facilities, cabin quality and passenger to space ratio, and at an average per night cost of £152, it figured well against Saga’s £252 per night and Oceania’s £294 per night. Its main complaint was the hard sell of add-ons and excursions.

Norwegian’s less impressive rating came despite a competitive £175 average cost per night. Not surprisingly for a company that has three ships that are capable of accommodating 4,000 passengers, it fared badly on the passenger to space ratio, with frequent queues for restaurants, bars and entertainment. However, Which? stated that Norwegian’s overall 60 percent score was by no means a disaster.