Disney’s first Alaska cruise sails in 2011

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Disney Cruise Line is offering cruises to Alaska for the first time in 2011.

The Disney Wonder ship will make 18 seven-night sailings to Alaska beginning May 3, 2011, with the last ship departing Aug. 30.

The ship will depart from its new home port in Vancouver, B.C., and travel through Tracy Arm in Southeast Alaska, with stops in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

The news of Disney’s foray into the Alaska cruise market is a bright spot in an otherwise down year for tourism in the state.

Experts say Alaska’s tourism industry is flat and sliding downward. They predict that next year Alaska will see 150,000 fewer cruise ship passengers.

Touring the colder climes of Alaska is requiring some changes to the ship. The Disney Wonder will be outfitted with a 2,500-square-foot cafe with floor-to-ceiling curved glass windows where guests can watch for wildlife and take in the spectacular scenery.

Rates start at $939 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy. Excursions for wildlife tours and other onshore activities like fishing or panning for gold are additional.

Before and after the 2011 summer season in Alaska, the Disney Wonder will sail seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from the Port of Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Rates for the seven-night itinerary start at $639 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Disney’s other ship, the Disney Magic, will sail 10- and 11-night Mediterranean itineraries for the 20ll season, starting May 28 departing from Barcelona with stops elsewhere in Spain in addition to Italy, France, Tunisia, Malta and Corsica. Rates for the Mediterranean cruises start at $1,739 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Additional guests after the first two occupants of any stateroom sail for reduced rates.

Disney’s 2011 cruises can be booked starting Sept. 28.