Holland America’s Amsterdam to visit Homer in 2014

Although Holland America has no scheduled visits to Homer this summer, the cruise ship company announced last week that the S/V Amsterdam will return for four visits in 2014.

The 1,380-passenger Amsterdam visits May 26, June 30, Aug. 4 and Sept. 1 next year.

The Homer stop is part of a 14-day cruise starting in Seattle that includes Southeast Alaska and visits to Anchorage, Homer and Kodiak in Southcentral Alaska.

“We are very excited that they are coming back to Homer,” said Monte Davis, executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.

The 14-day cruise is between other seven-day cruises for the Amsterdam, said Ralph Samuels, vice president for government and community relations, Holland America Line, Anchorage. Unlike other cruises, it starts and ends in Seattle, with a trip to Victoria, B.C., on the way back.

“One of the points of the 14-day trip is you’re seeing things that aren’t in your normal cruise itinerary,” he said. “Homer has been a pretty popular stop.”

Davis said in past years Holland America offered the 14-day cruises as a new option for regular cruise ship visitors. Few cruises are more than 10 days long and most are seven-day cruises, he said.

After several years, interest in the 14-day option dropped off.

Passengers on longer cruises tend to spend less onboard after a week, Davis added, with onboard revenues for everything from wine at dinner to gift store sales dropping.

Homer did get great reviews from cruise ship visitors, Davis said. People appreciated that Homer wasn’t like other cruise ship ports.

Although the local economic impact from cruise ships isn’t as significant as in Southeast Alaska ports, which might see three ships or more a day, Davis said cruise ship passengers often return later.

“One out of three of those people is going to come back to Alaska in the following three years as an independent traveler, rent a car and come back to Homer if Homer impressed them,” Davis said. “As far as I’m concerned, those cruise ships for us are marketing.”

Prices for the 14-day Amsterdam cruise in mid summer range from $2,199 per person for an inside stateroom to $6,999 for a deluxe stateroom, according to the Holland America website.

This summer Norwegian Cruise Lines will offer a land tour that includes Homer as an overnight stop. Billed as its 13-day Authentic Alaska tour, it includes a seven-day sea cruise and a six-day motor coach and railroad tour from Fairbanks to Whittier.

The land tour is before or after Norwegian Sun sailings departing or arriving in Whittier. The 50-passenger tour bus visits Homer twice a week in the summer.

Seabourn cruise lines, a luxury cruise line, also makes one stop in Homer this summer, but Davis did not know the exact date.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.