Forest Fires Lead to Closure in Alaska, Impacting Cruise Activities

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By Car Brand Experts

A blazing wildfire has resulted in the almost complete cessation of operations at Denali National Park and Preserve, causing significant disruptions for cruise-managed accommodations during the peak of the cruising season.

The Riley Fire was first observed in the early hours of June 30 and has caused considerable disturbances as it swiftly engulfs the region, prompting the park authority to shut down its access routes to the front country until further notification.

The Riley Fire, raging through the park’s dense and highly combustible black spruce forest, spans an estimated 350 to 400 acres and is located directly opposite the Glitter Gulch area across the Nenana River.

McKinley Chalet Resort, Holland America Line
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McKinley Chalet Resort, Holland America Line
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McKinley Chalet Resort, Holland America Line (Photo Credit: Vineyard Perspective)

This area, providing services to park visitors, houses numerous eateries, souvenir shops, tour agencies, and lodgings, including McKinley Chalet Resort by Holland America Line and Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge by Princess Cruises.

As expressed by a spokesperson from Holland America Line to Cruise Hive, “The McKinley Chalet Resort is presently experiencing disruptions in services caused by the Riley Fire, leading to power outages in the region and closure of the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve.

“Our guests, staff, and property are not under any immediate threat, and we are taking measures to ensure our guests’ comfort,” confirmed Holland America. “While local authorities strive to restore power, we are informing guests on Cruisetours about their future itinerary arrangements.”

Simultaneously, Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, situated within half a mile of McKinley Chalet, has denied entry to new arrivals. Princess Cruises has also shuttered its Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge within the park and Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge in Fairbanks, Alaska, another access point to Denali.

Also Read: The Optimal Time for Cruising Alaska: Preferred Periods

“In response to the impact of the Riley wildfire in the Denali National Park vicinity, we have ceased new admissions to Denali, Mt. McKinley, and Fairbanks,” announced the cruise line. “All bookings for hotel stays and land excursions at these three sites until July 5 will be voided.

“We appreciate your cooperation during this challenging period as we work towards ensuring everyone’s safety,” continued Princess Cruises. “We humbly request that you refrain from visiting the hotels, as we are unable to accommodate additional guests.

Evacuation notices were issued to about 150 employees of Denali National Park and its affiliates who reside in nearby housing, as well as to visitors staying at the Riley Creek Campground. Access into the park has been halted with shuttle services arranged for hikers requiring evacuation.

Land Packages May Encounter Disruptions

The McKinley Resort, located a mile from Denali’s entrance, is integral to Holland America’s Alaska Cruisetours, blending maritime adventures with land-based explorations. The resort offers a range of amenities like dining choices, a cinema, and opportunities for outdoor pursuits such as hiking and rafting.

Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge
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Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge
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Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge (Photo Credit: melissamn)

Princess Cruises’ lodges play a vital role in their Alaska Land & Sea cruise tours, providing numerous dining spots, theaters, and easy access to Denali National Park for guided tours and wildlife observation.

Both cruise operators routinely facilitate access to Denali from ports in Seward and Anchorage, Alaska. Currently, Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess, Sapphire Princess, and Ruby Princess are present in Alaska, alongside Holland America’s 1,432-passenger ms Zaandam, which organizes 14-day Yukon and Denali excursions. Passengers aboard each vessel may be affected by the forest fire.

Any alterations to the itineraries of impacted guests will be communicated directly by the cruise lines.

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