Cruise West (, one of the world’s leading providers of small-ship exploration cruises to the most fascinating destinations on earth, is revitalizing the overall guest experience this spring with several significant enhancements collectively called ‘Spirit Of Distinction.’ ‘Compass,’ a more robust enrichment program guided by a world class Board of Advisors, will be introduced for the enjoyment of all guests. The launch of ‘Palate’ Wine & Food Program will include an updated, award-winning wine list with food pairings and United States Sommelier Association certification for onboard servers. Several vessels will also offer the option to dine “alfresco,” and all sailings will enjoy new menu items. The well-appointed new Explorer Class cabin category, replete with upscale, eco-friendly amenities, will be added to three of the lines’ nine ships.

“We chose the name Spirit Of Distinction in keeping with the tradition of our ships’ names and to distinguish Cruise West from other lines. While exploration cruising continues to be our core focus and what we are known for, we are striving for continuous improvement by adding more value for our discerning guests,” remarked President and CEO Dietmar Wertanzl.

Designed to enhance the overall guest experience through meaningful and topical presentations, the renewed onboard enrichment program, Compass, will be introduced on all Cruise West itineraries. Four tenants comprise the points of Compass: science, culture, history and immersion. The Board of Advisors that will guide the new program includes world-renowned Oceanographer Dr. Don Walsh and noted Naturalist Brent Nixon. In addition, leading experts in diverse fields will serve as guest lecturers to complement the on-board Exploration Leaders’ provided narratives. Enrichment doesn’t end onboard. Guests will have additional opportunities to be immersed into the natural environment through an increased number of zodiac excursions on select itineraries.

A hallmark of the Cruise West experience is engaging and thought-provoking presentations aboard every sailing. The Exploration Academy, a component of Compass, will serve as an enhanced training program for Cruise West Exploration Leaders, further developing their knowledge base and skills. Tools include an e-based Enrichment Program of power point presentation modules that cover such diverse subjects as the culture, history, wildlife and geology of region(s) visited.

Guest won’t whine about the wine list or refreshed menu items! Following the theme of exploration, Cruise West introduces Palate, designed to help diners discover the synergy between wine and food. All Cruise West ships will feature a delectable culinary experience through distinctive food and wine pairings with menu selections that highlight the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest. A tempting wine list featuring bottles selected by Chairman Dick West will include wines from Wine Spectator’s "Top 100 Wines of the World" and Seattle Wine Awards 2008 "Gold Medal Winners." Additionally, in affiliation with the United States Sommelier Association, onboard servers will participate in a certificate course to ensure service delivery is up to the highest standards.

Lastly, guests will have a choice of three distinct dining options at lunchtime. Alfresco dining will be offered on the Spirit of Oceanus, Spirit of Yorktown, Spirit of Endeavour and Spirit of ’98, weather permitting, in addition to regularly scheduled lunch in the Dining Room and Light Fare luncheon served in the Lounge. Menu items will include fresh grilled favorites, salads, and a carving or taco bar.

The new Explorer Class cabins, formerly AAA cabins, are intended for guests accustomed to a higher level of creature comforts. The “eco-friendly” amenities, a natural extension of the company’s motto of good environmental stewardship, include ultra soft Bamboo (a sustainable resource), fiber linens and towels, cotton waffle weave bathrobes, water conserving Speakman "Easy Jet" adjustable stream showerheads, and hypoallergenic down duvets. In addition to special amenities, guests traveling on Alaska itineraries will receive a copy of the book Mr. Alaska, written by Cruise West’s founder Chuck West. Explorer Class cabins will be rolled out in spring 2009 onboard the 96-guest Spirit of ’98, 102-guest Spirit of Endeavour, and the 138-guest Spirit of Yorktown.