Alaska is one of the world’s most beautiful destinations and Carnival Cruise Lines has expanded its shore excursion offerings in the “Last Frontier” with 10 exciting new tours that cater to adventure lovers and history buffs alike.
Carnival’s summer 2008 lineup of new shore excursions includes everything from fascinating historical and cultural tours to glass-blowing demonstrations and a trip on one of the Bering Sea fishing boats from the reality program, “Deadliest Catch.”
Carnival will offer more than 120 different shore excursion choices in total on its seven-day itineraries aboard the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit. Voyages depart northbound from Vancouver or southbound from Whittier/Anchorage, with each itinerary introducing guests to Alaska’s stunning beauty through scenic cruising opportunities.
“Alaska is an incredibly diverse and naturally beautiful region where we can offer a wide variety of excursions that are unique to only that part of the world, “ said Mico Cascais, Carnival’s vice president of tour operations. “Today’s cruisers want more hands-on, eco-friendly shore excursions, and our tour program is continuously evolving to meet the demands of our guests.”
Guests have the option of sailing one of three seven-day itineraries: Southbound, Northbound or Glacier Bay. Each itinerary provides incredible views with scenic cruising through the Inside Passage, Lynn Canal, Prince William Sound, College Fjord and Glacier Bay as Carnival Spirit makes its way to Alaska’s most popular port towns including Sitka, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
In Skagway, the Gateway to the Klondike, cruisers can now take part in the new “Golden Glassblowing Experience.” This hands-on outing allows guests to sculpt their own work of art complete with 24-karat gold and have the finished product packed and shipped home as the ultimate souvenir. Also making a debut this season is the “Takshanuk Mountain Trail by 4x4.” This journey begins with a scenic cruise aboard a high-speed catamaran down North America’s longest and deepest fjord. A four-wheel drive “mule,” or heavy-duty golf cart, continues the journey, taking guests to beautiful waterfalls and crystal clear creeks before reaching sub-alpine meadows, followed by a gourmet lunch and fast-ferry return to the ship.
Skagway, located in the upper Lynn Canal, is considered the northernmost point in Southeast Alaska and features wooden sidewalks, old-fashioned saloons and horse-drawn carriages serving as reminders of the Alaska gold rush days. Those seeking a golden treasure can opt for the “Gold Fever Adventure,” which allows guests to pan for gold on an active claim.
Joining Ketichkan’s array of excursions are four new experiences, including the “Bear Creek Zip Line and Challenge Course.” This eco-rainforest adventure begins with an all-terrain vehicle ride, suitable for beginners and experts, and features zip lines, tree platforms, a skywalk, a rainforest swing, rope-bridge and a spruce slide. Those seeking a more relaxing day can explore Revillagigedo Island, which boasts the world’s largest collection of totem poles, or opt for the “Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary, Eagles & Totems,” an eco-exploration with a guided nature hike, bald eagle viewing and interaction with reindeer.
Foodies also are in for a treat with Carnival’s latest culinary offering in Ketchikan — “The Alaskan Chef’s Table, A Cultural Affair.” This culinary tour allows guests to see how local produce is caught and then crafted into a sumptuous Alaskan dinner party. This excursion keeps on giving once guests return home, as they receive a unique keepsake box featuring recipes for the dishes served so they, too, can re-create the fun for friends and family.
Those wanting to get a little more up-close and personal with their Alaskan fare may want to board the Aleutian Ballard for the “Bering Sea Crab Fisherman” experience. The Aleutian Ballard, the king crab fishing vessel made famous by the Discovery Channel’s original series “Deadliest Catch,” invites guests calling at Ketchikan to sail and learn how these boats operate and to hear first-hand accounts of the crews’ Bering Sea exploits.
Juneau, America’s largest capital city geographically, also presents an incredible opportunity for cruisers. Here guests can board their own private custom-built catamaran, complete with captain and naturalist, to explore the region’s ice-carved fjords and rugged coast. This “Wild Coast Exploration by Private Boat” accommodates up to six guests and lets them set a course for watching whales, bears and eagles, or hauling in their own catch of the day.
While calling at Sitka, history enthusiasts who take “Sitka's Cultural & Colonial Russian Tour” will gain an appreciation for the island community. Participants will delve into the region’s history at the Sheldon Jackson museum, the oldest exhibit of Indian and Eskimo artifacts in Alaska; view a former World War II PBY Aircraft Base, and visit St. Michael’s Cathedral — home to priceless religious artwork dating back to the late 15th century.
Back on board, Carnival Spirit’s activities cater to the whole family with relaxing spa experiences or dining options such as the elegant reservations-only Nouveau Supper Club, and children’s programs for three different age groups — Camp Carnival for kids, Circle C for ’tweens and Club O2 for teens.
Carnival Spirit also offers indoor and outdoor promenades, a variety of entertainment options and a diversity of nightclubs, lounges and live music venues. Additionally, 80 percent of the staterooms aboard the Carnival Spirit offer either an ocean view or balcony – ideal for scenic Alaska cruising.