Celebrating Alaska

This year, Alaska celebrates its 50th year of statehood, and although the actual date was January 3, the anniversary events will go on all year long. Travelers of all types—adventure seekers, nature lovers, cruisers and more—are expected to reap the benefits: Many tourism businesses are offering special 50th-anniversary deals that will reduce costs on experiences statewide, from flying around the tip of North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley, to cruising the waters of the Inside Passage.

sapphire princess

Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess visits Skagway, Alaska, each week during the summer season

More than 1.5 million people will visit Alaska this year, the vast majority arriving by the more than 3,000 passenger cruise ships that crowd into Alaska’s largest ports. While these huge vessels have their onboard attractions, small-ship guests know there’s a more intimate way to experience the “real” Alaska: the up-close, casual and personal way.

Travelers are invited to celebrate the anniversary of Alaska's statehood aboard Cruise West on any of its 121 Alaska departures scheduled for 2009. The small-ship tour operator is offering new value pricing, an extended season, early booking savings, and guests celebrating a 50th birthday or 50th wedding anniversary in 2009 will receive a $50 shipboard credit. Cruise West's small ships, ranging from 78 to 138 guests, allow for more compelling views of wildlife and cruising into smaller inlets that larger lines just can't reach. Alaska cruises operate late April through early September.

prince william sound

Visitors to Alaska can view such natural wonders as the Glacier of Prince William Sound

A variety of cruises are available for your clients: Alaska’s Inside Passage; Alaska’s Whales and Wilderness; Gold Rush Inside Passage; Glacier Bay Highlights; Glaciers of Prince William Sound; Coastal Alaska & the Russian Far East cruises—In Harriman's Wake; Voyage to the Bering Sea; and Coastal Odyssey. Cruises range from eight nights (cruise only) to 15 nights with Camp Denali Experience. Options and rates vary; agents should contact Cruise West at 1-888-851-8133, or 1-888-851-3360 for group sales.

For those clients who feel more comfortable on a large ship, Princess Cruises offers once-in-a-lifetime vacations highlighting landmarks on shore and at sea. These vacations combine a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise with three nights on land. Included are both of Alaska’s top attractions—Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park. After the cruise, clients will travel by exclusive Princess Direct to the Wilderness rail service to the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge for a two-night retreat with a Natural History Tour included, and finish their vacation with a night in Fairbanks and a riverboat cruise. Travelers can receive $50 upgrades from an interior to an obstructed oceanview stateroom or from an oceanview stateroom to a balcony stateroom. Interior stateroom from $1,299; obstructed oceanview stateroom from $1,349; oceanview stateroom from $1,799; and balcony stateroom from $1,849. These fares are based on Cruisetour BA3, Sapphire Princess May 16, 2009, departure. Many other departure dates are available throughout the season. Fuel supplement of $63 per person is included in the fares. Government fees and taxes of up to $120.75 per person are additional. This offer is subject to availability and capacity controlled; agents should contact Inside Sales at 1-800-PRINCESS and reference promotion code RT4.

Just announced on the luxury front is the news that Crystal Cruises is heading back into Alaskan waters for the first time since 2005. Crystal Serenity will embark on a 22-day voyage on April 16, departing from Yokohama, Japan, and make calls at Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Seward and Ketchikan. Guests will zipline through the Tongass National Forest, fly above the Misty Fjords, explore national parks and wildlife and go yachting.

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