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Princess continues rule of Alaska cruise business
Alaska can be done as a cruise or as a cruisetour, a sailing with a land package added on to the front or back side of the cruise. Savvy travelers with the time and budget for it know that a cruisetour is the way to go. Adding just a few days on to a sailing and having the ability to book land excursions can get travelers much deeper into Alaska than possible from a shore excursion off a cruise-only vacation.
The new Princess system allows booked travelers to pre-reserve land excursions through Princess' Cruise Personalizer along with their shore excursions from the ships. Previously, land excursions were pre-purchased separately or booked at the lodge.
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"This new capability makes the cruisetour experience even easier for passengers, as they can now reserve all their Alaska tours in one convenient place at the same time," said Jan Swartz, executive vice president of Princess Cruises. "So now the toughest part of planning excursions will be whether to choose between dog sledding, flight seeing, rafting, or the many other exciting options presented by the local tour operators."
Indeed, Alaska flightseeing by helicopter or plane can be expensive as are some of the other premiere excursions available in Alaska. By allowing travelers to book both land and sea excursions in the same place, budgeting and time management of the entire vacation experience will be much easier and more accurate.
Princess also added some new family-friendly tours recently, both from the ships and from their lodges in the wilderness. New from the Wilderness Lodges this year:
Worthington Glacier Hike -- Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge
This tour offers travelers an opportunity to hike on the dramatic Worthington Glacier. Hikers don crampons, metal spikes fastened to the sole of a shoe to provide better traction on ice and snow, and then they're off on a hike up the glacier to explore the crevasses and sculptured blue ice. Participants will learn the difference between blue and white ice, listen for the creaking sound of calving, and enjoy a lunch break and hot drink. Travelers will also take in the glacier's intricate ice formations and enjoy expansive views of the Chugach Mountains. Tip: If being on a glacier or flightseeing are one of your goals, book it on multiple days if possible. There is a good chance your tour could get rained out and having a backup can get you there.
Explore Cooper Landing & Gold Panning Adventure -- Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge
Passengers can fully explore the Cooper Landing area, known as "the gem of the Kenai Peninsula," with this comprehensive tour. Participants will learn about the area's history and try their own hand at gold panning. Visits include the Cooper Landing Historical Society featuring historic buildings, an actual sled dog kennel housing dogs that run the famous Iditarod race, K'beq Archaeological Site where native people share their culture and traditions, and a local homestead. If the salmon are running in the Kenai River, participants can also watch the action as fishermen "combat fish" trying to land a salmon.
Black Diamond Treasure Hunt -- Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge
This family-friendly tour offers a geo-caching adventure through rugged backcountry trails on a zippy ATV. Participants set the pace, fast and furious or leisurely and relaxing, as they follow a list of scavenger hunt-style objectives. Kids of all ages will have a blast as they locate "treasures" that epitomize the Alaskan outdoors. Using the provided GPS, participants can unearth a treasure trove of mineral samples, Athabascan Indian artifacts, gold-rush era cabins, spectacular vistas and wildlife. Eventually, everyone finds the final missing piece of the puzzle: a hearty, mouth-watering meal of salmon, chicken, ribs and potato salad along with complimentary wine and beer.
Some new shore excursions are notable as well.
Potlatch Totem Park, Hatchery, Bird Show & Meal -- Ketchikan
This enchanting overview of the sights, sounds and Native culture of Ketchikan offers passengers an intimate look at this part of Alaska. Passengers will enjoy a raptor show at the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center and get a private, up-close showing of two birds of prey. At a visit to Potlatch Park, a recreated 19th-century Native village, travelers can examine beautifully carved totem poles, see how Natives lived in the 1800s, and even check out some antique cars. A delicious gourmet seafood meal rounds out this connoisseur experience.
Gold Panning, Sled Dogs & 40 Degrees Below Zero Experience -- Skagway
A journey to the Klondike Gold Fields that offers a fun-filled time of gold panning, a sled dog demonstration and a chilly experience to delight the entire family. This kid-friendly tour offers the opportunity to meet and interact with Iditarod sled dogs and their puppies, and then feel the frosty temperatures of an Iditarod race personally in a cold chamber where temperatures drop to 40 degrees below zero. After this chilling experience, families can warm up with a little gold fever and try their luck at panning for gold.
Not all that long ago, cruise lines were pulling ships from the Alaska market, deploying them to more profitable waters. Alaska is back and booking like crazy right now. Princess Cruises continues to dominate the Alaskan market because they pay strict attention to details. This new tool allowing for a seamless method of booking all elements of the Alaska Experience is just one reason why.