Explorer of the Seas Begins Her First Alaska Season

The launch of Royal Caribbean’s brand-new Harmony of the Seas overshadowed another important event this week: the arrival of Explorer of the Seas in Alaska.

Explorer of the Seas is the second Voyager-class ship. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Explorer of the Seas is the second Voyager-class ship. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

The largest ship to ever regularly call on ports that include Seattle, Victoria, Juneau and Skagway, Explorer of the Seas is the biggest ship that Royal Caribbean has ever deployed in the region. She’s also the first Voyager Class ship to sail the West Coast of North America since Mariner of the Seas was removed from the Mexican Riviera run from Los Angeles (San Pedro) back in late 2010.

Departing from Seattle, the 3,286-guest ship sails weeklong itineraries to Alaska between now and September that are structured a little differently from your average voyage. Following departure from Seattle, Explorer of the Seas spends one day sailing the Pacific Ocean on the western side of Vancouver Island, followed by a day at sea cruising the scenic Inside Passage that borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and Alaska.

The Streets of Skagway. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Explorer of the Seas will call on Skagway… Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Juneau, Alaska. One of the "big three ports", Juneau is frequently overcrowded with tourists arriving on multiple megaships. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
…and Juneau, Alaska. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Explorer of the Seas then arrives in Juneau, Alaska, docking there from 12 Noon until 9 p.m. The next day, she arrives in the former Gold Rush town of Skagway, staying in port from 7:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. on most itineraries.

After that, Explorer of the Seas sails south through Lynn Canal, past Juneau, to the picturesque confines of Tracy Arm Fjord, home to the North and South Sawyer Glaciers. The chances of Explorer of the Seas actually reaching the Glaciers aren’t terribly good thanks to a narrow turning basin that’s frequently choked with ice, even in the summer months, but it’s not impossible.

Alaska's ever-changing weather can present unique photo opportunities, like these stunning rays of light in Tracy Arm fjord. Photo © Aaron Saunders
Alaska’s ever-changing weather can present unique photo opportunities, like these stunning rays of light in Tracy Arm fjord. Photo © Aaron Saunders

The next day is a day at sea, which will probably be welcomed by guests aboard the massive Explorer of the Seas, which features Royal Caribbean’s famous Promenade, an Ice Skating Rink, a gorgeous three-story dining room, and plenty of other bars, lounges, and fun diversions in which to while away a day at sea.

To conclude her voyage, Explorer of the Seas docks in Victoria, the English-themed capital of British Columbia. Unlike other cruise lines – most of which tend to stop in Victoria for but a few short hours in the evening – Explorer of the Seas will remain at the Ogden Point Cruise Terminal just to the west of the historic Downtown area from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 p.m., when she sets sail for Seattle.

Explorer of the Seas will offer guests sailing to Alaska an extended call on the city of Victoria, capital of the Canadian province of British Columbia. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders
Explorer of the Seas will offer guests sailing to Alaska an extended call on the city of Victoria, capital of the Canadian province of British Columbia. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

It’s great news for Alaska, and great news for cruisers looking for even more variety and ships to choose from in this picturesque cruising destination.

Explorer of the Seas will operate a full season of Alaska voyages this year, and will return to Seattle in 2017 for her second season up north.

Read more about Explorer of the Seas by viewing our Ship Profile here on Avid Cruiser.

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