What makes a legend? When it's a truly legendary state like Alaska - now celebrating its 50th year of statehood - it's a birthday celebration that includes special guests, delectable food, great wine and the kinds of trips down the state's memory lane that only its oldest (and most famous) friends can offer!
Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), one of the world's leading providers of small-ship specialty cruises to the most fascinating destinations on earth, is celebrating Alaska's golden anniversary with 89 individual cruises to the nation's largest state. And, to provide even better value, the company has partnered with Alaska Geographic (www.alaskageographic.org) to offer discounted memberships and numerous additional benefits.
"The West family has deep roots in Alaska. My father, Chuck West, started operating land tours in Alaska 63 years ago and was fondly called ‘Mr. Alaska,’" said Chairman and Managing Director Dick West. "We started offering cruises in Alaska in 1973 and since then have grown to be the major small-ship cruise line in Alaska, now offering ten distinct itineraries." 
And, while no velvet ropes are involved, like all great birthday celebrations this party has a select VIP guest list; with Cruise West ships catering to no more than 138 guests per sailing. Each guest receives personal attention as they explore Alaska in the kind of up-close, casual and personal manner that larger ships simply can't offer. Plus, as part of the celebration, select itineraries in 2009 will feature some of the state's oldest friends joining the party including Vic Fischer and Jack Coghill, both of whom signed the original statehood document in 1959; former Governor of Alaska Tony Knowles; famous Iditarod champion Dick Mackey as well as an ever-changing group of talented Alaskan entertainers who will bring to their performances a sense of what makes Alaska their home and inspiration.
For foodies and localvores, Cruise West - already known for the fresh and delicious cuisine offered onboard all nine of their ships - is serving up a special 2009 Alaska itinerary menu that features the very best of Alaska's culinary bounty. From breakfasts featuring birch tree syrup, preserves made from local berries and locally roasted coffees to dinner entrees celebrating the state's world-famous salmon, black cod, halibut and crab, each guest will return from "America's Last Frontier" with a new appreciation of the gourmet delights that Alaska has to offer. And, to remember just whose birthday it is, the original Baked Alaska will be served on every cruise!
Ten distinct Cruise West itineraries offer guests wanting to experience Alaska in its special year the opportunity to focus in on everything from sea-based and land-loving wildlife to indigenous cultures. Cruises range from four-to-twenty-five days and are as diverse as Alaska's Inside Passage and Glacier Bay Highlights to extended trips that include coastal Alaska and the Russian Far East. Land tours are equally exciting and include visits to the historically rich "Gold Rush" cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks as well as awe-inspiring Denali National Park. Exceptional optional excursions in Denali include the Heli-Hiking Adventure and fly-fishing for Arctic Grayling.
Ready to RSVP for this year-long party?! Early booking discounts are still available for all of Cruise West's Alaska itineraries through February 27, 2009 and if you're lucky enough to be celebrating your own special 50th - think birthday or wedding anniversary - Cruise West will provide an additional credit of $50 to your onboard experience. Anniversary introductory rates start at $999 (with early booking discount) for Glaciers of Prince William Sound.