Carnival Cruise Lines will launch its first-ever cruises from Seattle today when the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit departs on a seven-day voyage to Alaska – the first of 17 cruises that will bring some 40,000 passengers to the city this season. 

Carnival’s new Seattle-based Alaska program will run through Aug. 31, 2010, with week-long Glacier Bay cruises departing every Tuesday from the port’s newest cruise terminal, Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91. Ports of call include popular Alaskan destinations of Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as Victoria and cruising Tracy Arm Fjord. 

To commemorate the start-up of Carnival’s new service from Seattle, a special reception and luncheon was held on board the Carnival Spirit, attracting more than 400 community leaders and local officials.  The event was part of the annual Maritime Festival Luncheon sponsored by Seattle’s chapter of the Propeller Club.

“We have received a warm welcome from our friends in Seattle, which is a wonderful addition to our industry-leading North American homeport choices.  In addition to outstanding support from the local community, including our travel agent partners, Seattle provides a convenient and affordable air transportation option and its location offers those in the western U.S. an opportunity to drive to their cruise,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO.

“Carnival’s passengers will pump nearly $2 million per ship visit into our economy,” said Port Commission President Bill Bryant. “17 Carnival calls here expected this year mean jobs and local tax revenue. We are pleased to welcome Carnival to their new home at the Port of Seattle.”

Seattle serves as an excellent gateway to Alaska, a region filled with awe-inspiring natural wonders, including calving glaciers, magnificent fjords and native sea and animal life, as well as interesting cultures and attractions. 

A wide range of shore excursions – from helicopter flightseeing and rainforest canopy tours to hiking, canoeing, kayaking expeditions and even alpine snorkeling – are available, providing guests myriad opportunities to experience and explore The Last Frontier.

And the Carnival Spirit is the ideal ship for Alaska, with 80 percent of staterooms featuring an ocean view or balcony – perfect for viewing the passing scenery -- along with indoor and outdoor promenades, and a 14,500-square-foot health and wellness center.

Guests also enjoy specially prepared “Just For Alaska” menu items featuring local fish, game and other ingredients, as well as full-service multi-course meals in the main dining room as well as casual options such as a 24-hour pizzeria.  Carnival Spirit also features a classic American-style steakhouse with prime U.S.D.A. dry-aged steaks and other gourmet cuisine.

Carnival Spirit also offers a two-deck-high promenade lined with lounges, bars and nightspots, including a 1,200-seat theater showcasing lavish production shows, as well as full casino gambling, a wedding chapel, conference center and bow-to-stern wireless access. Four swimming pools – one of them heated – as well as Carnival’s signature Twister Waterslide, are featured, as well.  

Kids sailing on Carnival Spirit can enjoy three different children’s programs – Camp Carnival for ages 2-11, Circle “C” for ages 12 to 14, and Club O2 for 15- to 17-year-olds – with facilities and counselors dedicated to each group.  Many activities in these programs feature fun, educational activities with an Alaska theme.