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Disney Cruise Line to launch first voyages to Alaska in 2011

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Even as one Micky pulls out, another heads in.

The Mickey Mouse-themed Disney Cruise Line today announced plans for its first cruises to Alaska -- a destination where cruise lines associated with another Micky, Carnival Chairman Micky Arison, have been cutting capacity.

Disney will kick off the Alaska sailings in 2011 aboard the 2,400-passenger Disney Wonder, which will operate out of Vancouver, B.C. The ship will offer seven-night roundtrip voyages that call in the Alaskan port towns of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway and visit scenic Tracy Arm.

Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz made the announcement today at an event in Anaheim, Calif.

“Our guests have longed to explore the wild, natural beauty of Alaska with Disney Cruise Line,” Holz says in a statement. “With this itinerary, families will enjoy all the outdoor adventures Alaska has to offer.”

Like other lines, Disney will operate in often-chilly Alaska during the summer. The first of 18 cruises the line plans for 2011 will depart Vancouver on May 3, 2011 with the last cruise of the season scheduled for Aug. 30, 2011. Rates start at $939 per person for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy and not including government taxes and fees.

Disney's move into Alaska comes as several lines pull ships from the region due to what they say is an increasingly difficult operating environment. Carnival-owned Princess and Holland America as well as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Cruise West all have announced cutbacks in capacity for 2010.

Carnival's Arison told cruise writers in June the industry is on the verge of filing a lawsuit against Alaska over a $50 per passenger cruise tax Alaska's voters approved three years ago. Arison and other industry executives have said such taxes and additional regulations imposed in the state in recent years have reduced its appeal as a place to do business.

In anticipation of the Alaska sailings, Disney says it will add a new venue called Outlook Café atop the Disney Wonder during a dry dock in October. Located on deck 10, the 2,500-square-foot indoor lounge will offer a place for passengers to watch for wildlife such as whales as the ship sails along Alaska's scenic Inside Passage. The venue will have floor-to-ceiling, curved glass windows.

Today's announcement is for the 2011 season only. A Disney spokesman said "nothing has been determined" for the line's schedule beyond that year.

Disney today also announced new itineraries for 2011 along the Mexican Riviera and in the Mediterranean.

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The Disney Wonder will sail a total of 18 seven-night Alaskan cruises, departing from Vancouver, B.C., and visiting Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. As part of the new Alaska itinerary, Disney Cruise Line guests will be able to experience breathtaking natural vistas, an abundance of wildlife and the rich history and customs of Alaska’s native culture.


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