ANCHORAGE - Two cruise lines operating in Alaska are planning shorter Northwest and Inside Passage voyages this season.
The short cruises allow the companies to make some money at the beginning and end of the Alaska season as they get their ships into position for longer cruises.
The companies will continue their longer cruises, which include numerous Juneau stops. Juneau's large cruise ship season begins today, with Norwegian Cruise Line's 2,020-passenger Norwegian Sky.
Last year, Royal Caribbean International launched its three- and four-night cruises from Seattle. The company plans to offer the packages again this year, using its new 2,100-passenger Radiance of the Seas.
Princess Cruises will begin offering three- and four-day round-trip voyages from Vancouver, British Columbia, that include a stop in either Ketchikan or Sitka, this summer.
The four voyages reposition the vessels at the start and close of cruising season, but the company also hopes the trips provide a sample of the area, spokeswoman Julie Benson told the Alaska Journal of Commerce.
"We're not in the short cruise market," she said. "We're trying to address a new audience and showcase our product."
Princess will start a four-day voyage May 9 that includes a stop in Ketchikan. A similar run is set for Sept. 15. A Sept. 17 sailing features a stop in Sitka, while a Sept. 22 cruise will visit Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia.
Ketchikan Visitors Bureau director Patti Mackey said repositioning cruises is typical in the industry.
Royal Caribbean operated six three- and four-night cruises from Seattle to other Pacific Northwest ports including Victoria last year, he said. In 2001, the cruise line plans 14 shorter Pacific Northwest voyages.