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Large Demand for Niche CruisesMarch 2, 2011 By: Michael Browne
|Crystal Symphony will make nine 12-day roundtrip Alaska sailings from San Francisco this season.|
Whether it’s rugged expeditions or high-end luxury, if you still have clients on the fence about booking an Alaska cruise vacation this year, it’s time to give them a push.
According to Todd Smith, founder and president of small-ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations, the combination of a number of forces mandates booking early for this cruise season in Alaska. For one thing, travel is rebounding and with the state doing more marketing (as part of its agreement with the major cruise lines last year), demand is up. “Alaska sales are up over 30 percent from last year for us,” says Smith‚ whose company secures matches between adventure-seeking clients and a variety of expedition ships. Add to that a shortage in supply, with Cruise West—which once controlled 30 percent of the Alaska cruise inventory—no longer in business.
For clients seeking a Cruise West alternative, agents may consider Lindblad Expeditions' Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird or National Geographic Sea Lion with the industry’s top onboard naturalists and expedition leaders. Another option is the Alaska Island Spirit Cruise, offering a combination of nature, wilderness and authentic port stops aboard the Island Spirit.
New to the scene are InnerSea Discoveries' Eastern and Western Coves Adventure Cruises—both with a high level of land-based adventure activity—aboard either the 156-foot, 49-passenger Wilderness Adventurer or the 169-foot, 49-passenger MV Wilderness Discoverer.
Guests aboard these two ships will be able to pick and choose from traditional activities as well as new, optional activities such as overnight wilderness kayaking, hiking and camping, expert fishing charters from the ship and flight-seeing.
For more dates and information, contact Smith at [email protected].
Crystal’s Big Return
Crystal Cruises is marking its first season back in Alaska since 2005 with excursions that extend way beyond its luxury cruise offering. Among a slew of new adventures, clients can explore the state’s waterways by safari boat, private catamaran, whitewater raft, canoe, kayak, or even World War II duck vehicle (a six-wheel amphibious truck). They’ll be able to enjoy the natural landscapes and wildlife by seaplane or helicopter, or stay planted on terra firma in a horse-drawn trolley, ATV, jeep, sled, motorcycle, old-fashioned railcar, private Hummer or Unimog 4x4.
Once on land, extreme adventure seekers can rock-climb, fly-fish or zipline over rainforest canopies; photographers can head off on custom excursions; and families can pan for gold, create glass-blown art, golf, or scout for killer whales, bald eagles or bears. History buffs will love tales of bordellos and shootouts, or learning about native traditions and Alaska’s Russian past.
Gourmet, local cuisine will be featured via cooking classes, wilderness camp dining, and a five-course Alaskan Chef’s Table in Ketchikan.
Groups can sail through the island-specked waters of Sitka Sound on a private sightseeing and wildlife expedition via deluxe catamaran with a captain and expert naturalist as a guide.
Crystal Symphony will make nine 12-day sailings roundtrip from San Francisco from May through August to Victoria, Vancouver, Sitka, Juneau, Skagway/Haines, Ketchikan and either Hubbard Glacier or Glacier Bay.
Whichever way your clients opt to experience Alaska, the watchwords are “Book Now.”