Cruise West Launches 2004 Alaska Program

More Sailings Entirely Within Alaskan Waters, New Excursion To Hyder For Close-Up Bear Observation, Expanded Zodiac Fleet And Several Itinerary Enhancements
SEATTLE (October 27, 2003) – Seattle-based Cruise West has made several exciting changes to its small-ship Alaska cruising program for 2004, including an expanded roster of Inside Passage sailings entirely within Alaskan waters and a new excursion to the picturesque town of Hyder for optimum bear-viewing opportunities during peak salmon-spawning season. Zodiacs or other inflatable excursion craft will now be used on five of eight ships, a substantial increase over 2003; a two-night stay at Glacier Bay National Park has been added to the Daylight Yacht Tour portfolio; and the Bering Sea itinerary features several additional ports and highlights. The complete Alaskan program is detailed in Cruise West’s new 116-page 2004 “Alaska Experience” brochure.

Cruise West’s Alaska series calls at 24 Alaskan and Russian ports — more than all other cruise lines in Alaska combined — ranging in size from Anchorage, population of 260,000, to Elfin Cove, home to just 32 residents. Cruises of three to 13 nights explore wilderness regions extending from the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle to the Arctic ice in the Bering Strait, including Southwest and Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound and the Bering Sea. Small-ship capacities of 78 to 114 passengers never overwhelm Alaska’s smaller, eco-sensitive communities, and the emphasis is always on the destination — wildlife, fjords, glaciers, natural and pioneer history, and native cultures.

For travelers wishing to maximize time spent in Alaska and minimize time sailing to or from the state, the frequency of the eight-night “Alaska’s Inside Passage” itinerary — sailing between the Alaskan ports of Ketchikan and Juneau — was increased with the addition of a third ship on the route. The Spirit of ’98 joins the Spirit of Endeavour and Spirit of Discovery to offer 37 departures, a 20 percent boost from 2003. The ships visit Metlakatla, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway and Haines, plus Glacier Bay, Misty Fjords and Tracy Arm with fares ranging from $3,449 to $5,349.

Cruise West is pioneering a special full-day excursion to Hyder, known as the friendliest ghost town in Alaska, on five “Alaska’s Inside Passage” sailings departing in late July and early August, replacing visits to Metlakatla and Misty Fjords. After a journey up Portland Canal, a fjord cutting 70 miles through alpine mountains and forest, passengers will be able to watch as brown and black bears assemble in packs to feast at a chum salmon run at nearby Fish Creek. Prices for these special departures are $3,649 to $5,349.

Cruise West has expanded its fleet of Zodiacs and launches, equipping five ships in 2004 — the Spirit of Endeavour, Spirit of ’98, Spirit of Columbia, Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Oceanus — compared with two vessels in 2003. In addition to “Coastal Odyssey,” “Voyage to the Bering Sea,” and “Wilderness Waterways,” “Alaska’s Inside Passage” will be the fourth itinerary to offer inflatable excursion craft, which allow up-close views of beachcombing bears in search of salmon, waterfalls, sea lion colonies, diving humpback whales and icebergs as well as island landings where possible.

For 2004, a Glacier Bay National Park option has been added to shoulder season departures of the “Daylight Yacht Tour” program, in which passengers cruise by day aboard the Sheltered Seas yacht and overnight on land. Travelers, spending two nights at rustic Glacier Bay Lodge within the park, experience in-depth cruise exploration of Glacier Bay, accompanied for a full day by a Park Service Ranger, who helps to identify the region’s diverse wildlife and interpret its Ice Age history. The option adds two nights to the original six-night itinerary and is priced at $2,849; the regular six-night sailings are $1,499 to $2,199.

The 13-night “Voyage to the Bering Sea,” offered aboard the all-suite flagship Spirit of Oceanus, has been expanded to include visits to Kenai Fjords National Park on the Kenai Peninsula, Nunivak National Wildlife Refuge in the Bering Sea and the Native village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island. Fares are $7,199 to $10,499.

The 2004 Alaska Experience brochure fully describes the line’s Alaska itineraries of three to 13 nights’ duration. Eight sail entirely within Alaskan waters, while two continue to cruise the full 1,000-mile-length of the Inside Passage: the 12-night “Coastal Odyssey” and 10-night “Gold Rush Voyage.” The brochure also features nine- to 17-night land-sea packages combining cruising with land packages to Anchorage, Denali National Park, Fairbanks, Nome, Kotzebue and the High Arctic.

Cruise fares range from $1,099 for a Category C Spirit of Alaska cabin on a three-night shoulder season “Glacier Wonderland” sailing to $10,499 for a Grand Titan suite aboard the Spirit of Oceanus on a 13-night midseason “Voyage to the Bering Sea” departure. Early-booking and early final payment savings range from $100 to $1,000 per person for bookings made by December 5 and $50 to $500 for bookings made by February 27.

Reservations, information and brochures can be obtained from travel agents and Cruise West, Suite 700, 2401 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121, tel. (800) 888-9378; fax (206) 441-4757; web site www.cruisewest.com

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