Holland America Beats Coronavirus Blues with Alaskan Fun

with Vickie Sam Paget

With fearful clients and daily cancellations causing consternation, it would be pretty easy for a travel agent to allow all the coronavirus doom and gloom to swallow them up right now -- but not if they were at Holland America Line’s Alaska Cruise and Travel Show at Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront.

Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford with his Siberian husky, Spike.

More than 2,000 adventure-driven, hand sanitizer-toting travellers attended the show, demonstrating that the lure of the Last Frontier is greater than the fear of COVID-19.

They were rewarded with one of the best welcomes in the business -- with a host of presentations, musical acts, axe-throwing and gold-panning classes and plenty of s’mores to eat!

“Think about it -- it's a Saturday and we've had over 2,000 people register for this,” enthused Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford, who attended the show with his Siberian husky, Spike. “This place has been jam-packed all day with people dreaming about Alaska and I'm ecstatic because we honestly didn't know, given everything that's going on with coronavirus, whether people were still going to come or not.

Holland America recognizes CruisePlus Travel & Tours sending 100,000 guests onboard.

“Yes, this is a challenge. Yes, these are unprecedented times. But at the same time people still want to travel. The cool thing is that they have not lost their ambition to travel. 

“Now whether they choose to go this year or go next, Alaska will be here and Holland America Line will be here to take them. For those that want to go now we have programs in place so they can book with confidence. We’re relaxing some of our cancellation rules because things are changing daily. So you can book and then if something changes and you're uncomfortable, you can cancel and shift it to another location or another time. 

Panning for gold at the Alaska Cruise and Travel Show.

“Hopefully that helps travel agents, because travel agents are critical to my business. Three-quarters of our bookings come through travel agents because our cruises tend to be a little more intricate and longer than others. So our guests are generally not the type of cruisers who just go online and book. Our guests are travellers and they really want to experience, touch, feel and taste a destination -- and travel agents are a key in helping them to maximize their access to the places that they want to go.”

World champion lumberjack Boone Sheer throws some axes.

Nanette Padero, Holland America BDM.

Open Jaw’s Vickie Sam Paget finally gets her hands on Spike the Siberian husky.

Vickie Sam Paget

Vickie Sam Paget Western Correspondent

Hailing from the UK, Vickie Sam Paget is a travel and tourism storyteller located in Vancouver, BC. When she’s not on the road, creating engaging travel content or gazing at the North Shore Mountains, you can usually find her curled up with a good book or sipping a pint of the good stuff in her local Irish bar.

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