Home Travel agency Cruise stops in St. Petersburg, passenger numbers expected to increase in 2022

Cruise stops in St. Petersburg, passenger numbers expected to increase in 2022

The American Constellation docked at the port of Petersburg in July 2021. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

More tourists are expected to visit St. Petersburg this year. Cruise ship calls and interest from independent travelers are up in 2022. This follows a shortened season in 2021 and no visits from cruise lines the year before at the start of the pandemic.

Cruise lines are planning about 110 stops in St. Petersburg in 2022. That would be 31 more than last year. If these ships are full, that would mean around 11,869 passengers would disembark here this summer. It’s not the highest Petersburg has seen, but it’s a rebound of zero stops in 2020 and around 80 last year.

Dave Berg is the co-owner of the travel agency Viking Travel and coordinates cruise line stops.

“At one point we had almost I think it was almost 18,000 passengers who came a year, but that was when Cruise West was still operating and there was also the steamer coming in regularly in Petersburg that year,” Berg mentioned. “I think it was in 2007 or 2008 where we had this big influx that bumped our numbers up a bit. What we’re seeing now is a steady growth in the number of expedition ships coming in and they love Petersburg because of its location and the availability of anchorages.

However, not all ships planning calls in Petersburg will seek to moor in ports. Some larger ships plan to anchor in deeper waters nearby and ferry passengers to town on smaller boats. It was a regular occurrence before the COVID pandemic.

One of them is the 342-foot vessel Ocean Victory, launched last year by American Queen Voyages. Able to accommodate up to 146 passengers, it provides 13 stopovers. Another is the 459ft Hurtigruten ship, the Roald Amundsen. It is an electric hybrid that can accommodate up to 500 passengers. It has three scheduled stops in May and June. These two ships were due to visit last year but canceled due to a ban on cruise ship travel to Canada.

Two others also plan to anchor and lighten passengers. The 453-foot Hanseatic Inspiration vessel and the 337-foot Swan Hellenic Minerva vessel are also planning multiple stops.

During the pandemic, Canada’s cruise ship ban and US law requiring a stopover in a foreign port have torpedoed the voyages of foreign-flagged ships like these. Last year, US lawmakers allowed a temporary exemption to this requirement. Canada ended its ban last November, but Berg says he’s still unsure whether such trips from Vancouver will be allowed this year.

Other ships have been frequent visitors in the past.

American Cruise Lines is planning 11 calls with the American Constellation, which can accommodate up to 175 passengers. It was the company that cut short a trip to St. Petersburg last summer and canceled another following a COVID outbreak. Companies require COVID vaccination for passengers and crew in 2022.

The National Geographic and Lindblad ships Quest and Venture will come to town this year. This company kept visitors away from the community while offering cruises last year.

The cruise line’s older and smaller ships, the Sea Bird and the Sea Lion, were regular visitors to Petersburg, but only scheduled one stop each this year. They will stop at Thomas Bay and LeConte Bay during the southeast trips, but will stop in other cities.

Sitka-based Alaskan Dream Cruises will also be frequent visitors.

Berg notes that some small overnight businesses also continue to operate.

“Alaska Sea Adventures with the Northern Song, you know they are locally owned here and they operate year-round, although some of these ships, most of these smaller ships only take 10 or 12 passengers,” said said Berg. “Alaskan custom cruises operating the Sikumi and Golden Eagle will be sailing here and back all summer and are not on the schedule as such. And Bluewater Adventures, an operator from Vancouver, BC, operates the Island Roamer and the Snow Goose which will also be here on a few unscheduled occasions.

Another company, UnCruise, will bring ships to Thomas Bay, Ideal Cove and LeConte Glacier, but does not plan to stop in Petersburg.

Berg said interest in independent visitors to Petersburg and Alaska is on the rise.

“Which is good for the city and better, I think, for local communities than even cruise ship passengers, because they spend more money in town, they spend time in local hotels and restaurants,” said said Berg. “They come and leave taxpayers’ money, they leave money in the community, and then they move on. So I think it’s a good thing for our community to have freelancers and those calls seem to be up from our last two years, which have been down a lot.

Berg says cruise lines are looking for shore excursions as well as boat and air travel for their passengers. He says several local businesses are considering offering tours, but there are opportunities for others.

Last year’s first ship did not arrive until early June. This year, the calendar indicates landings from the beginning of May to mid-September.