Whale watching, a five-course Alaska feast, and the art of glass making may not seem to have anything in common at first glance, but on a Princess Alaska cruise these are just some of the unique "Great Land" experiences available through the line's shore excursion program in 2008.
A total of 37 new tour options join Princess' extensive Adventures Ashore program, which presents passengers with a total of 224 Alaska excursions in 2008. New tours include an opportunity to go behind the scenes on a commercial fishing vessel featured on TV's Deadliest Catch, a ziplining tour designed for families, a walking tour with a Skagway "madam," an opportunity to learn the art of glassblowing, and an Alaskan chef's table that will delight food lovers.
"Each year we're delighted to find new ways for our passengers to experience the many facets of Alaska," said Charlie Ball, president of Princess Tours. "We've worked closely with many local tour providers to showcase the wide array of rich culture, wildlife and natural beauty that can be experienced by our passengers."
Among the new tours are:
Private Whale Watch & Custom Juneau Tour (Princess Exclusive) - The opportunity for a private whale encounter and to experience Juneau by land and sea with a personal tour for groups of up to 10 people. The day features a covered jet boat excursion personally tailored by the skipper to travel to the day's best whale watching opportunities, plus an onshore tour with a personal guide who will customize visits to whichever Juneau attractions the group wishes.
Alaskan Chef's Table - The perfect tour for food lovers, this chef's table experience features a sumptuous five-course tasting menu featuring fresh Alaska seafood, served in a private club dining room overlooking the harbor. The feast serves up 10 distinctive dishes highlighting Alaska's sustainable wild seafood, accompanied by personal stories highlighting Ketchikan's culture, such as when Norwegian grandmothers competed to cook up the best fish cakes in town. Guests will also leave with recipes to duplicate the memorable meal at home.
Bear Creek Zipline Course - The perfect eco-adventure for families, younger children and those new to ziplining. While many such courses are only open to teens and adults, this fun course can also accommodate kids five and up, who will enjoy four dual cable ziplines, a suspension bridge, a Tarzan-style rainforest swing and a speedy mountain slide.
Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour - Participants can learn about the life of Alaska's commercial fisherman with this unique opportunity to sail aboard a vessel featured on the Discovery Channel program Deadliest Catch. The vessel has now been modified with seating for passengers who will enjoy the opportunity to observe the skilled fishermen in action as they bring a variety of sea life to the surface for observation before releasing them back to the wild.
Ghosts & Goodtime Girls Walking Tour - The first time Princess is offering a walking tour in Skagway, this excursion lets passengers step back in time and learn about the town's rich history. One of the lavishly costumed madams of the Red Onion Saloon guides passengers through the streets and alleys of Skagway past gold rush-era buildings and the once-infamous red light district. The tour ends at the famed Red Onion Saloon, where participants will be able to explore the rooms of this former brothel, and maybe catch a glimpse of Lydia, the resident ghost.
Golden Glassblowing Experience - This unique hands-on experience provides passengers with the opportunity to learn how to create their own glass art with a fun-filled glassblowing workshop in Jewell Gardens. Passengers will learn the ancient art of working with molten glass and will then create a glass ornament for their window or Christmas tree, and can even choose to decorate it with 24K gold.
Connoisseur Route Tours
New for 2008, the intimate Tahitian Princess will sail on a unique 14-day Connoisseur itinerary featuring a number of calls not usually included on most Alaskan cruises, including the chance to visit Kodiak, Valdez and Seward, with a variety of new tour options in each. Together these new ports introduce more than 20 new excursion options, including:
Best of Valdez - For those who want to do it all, this comprehensive tour includes wildlife viewing, fishing, walking on glacial moraine and a seafood lunch. Passengers will tour the area aboard a fully equipped catamaran with stops for fishing or helping with shrimp pots, as well as exploring Shoup Glacier Lake, where the boat's captain can sail right to the base of the glacier.
Columbia Glacier Cruise - A cruise through iceberg-studded waters to visit Alaska's largest tidewater glacier. The massive ice field clocks in at 435 square miles in size and has the dubious distinction of being the world's quickest receding glacier as well. Passengers will likely spot Alaska's famed wildlife en route, including whales, harbor seals, sea otters, sea lions and a variety of birds.
Alaska Sea Life Center & Puffin Experience - Bird lovers can get up close and personal with Alaska's distinctive puffins with a visit to Seward's Alaska SeaLife Center. In addition to the center's many marine life exhibits, guests will enjoy an interactive program on the puffins and will have the opportunity to meet the birds.
Resurrection Bay Sea Kayaking - One of the area's premiere destinations, Resurrection Bay offers a beautiful backdrop for a kayaking adventure. A guide introduces paddlers to the natural wonders of this gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park where encounters with sea otters, eagles, porpoises, leaping salmon and sea birds are common.
Russian Heritage Tour - An opportunity to explore the influence of Russia and the Alutiiq people on Kodiak with a journey to many of the town sights. Highlights include a tour of cannery row, a visit to the Russian Orthodox Seminary (one of only three in the United States), and a Russian tea featuring borscht, Russian tea cakes and pirozhkis, accompanied by a local band performing traditional Russian music.
Back Country, Brewery and Winery Tour - An excursion featuring a fun combination of the area's rich scenery and some of Kodiak's local libations. Passengers will visit Kodiak Brewery for a tour and tasting, the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge to learn about the area's flora and fauna, and the Kodiak Island Winery to sample locally made wines and a light lunch.
All Alaska Adventures Ashore(r) are currently available for pre-reservation. Passengers who are already booked on an Alaska cruise can reserve their tours by logging on the Cruise Personalizer on princess.com, to ensure they get the excursions of their choice. As many tours fill up quickly, passengers are encouraged to make selections as early as possible.
These new excursion options are offered as part of Princess' 2008 Alaska season, featuring eight ships sailing through the scenic waters of the "Great Land" on a total of 136 departures aboard a diverse lineup of vessels that range from 670 passengers to 2,670 passengers. In addition to Tahitian Princess' new Connoisseur itinerary, Princess offers Gulf of Alaska cruises and cruisetours plus round-trip Inside Passage sailings from Seattle and San Francisco. All of the line's 2008 Gulf of Alaska cruises include visits to Glacier Bay, and Princess ships will carry more passengers to this spectacle of ice and sea life than any other cruise line.