Cruise Guide: Princess unveils heady Alaska shore excursions

By Mike Coleman

A Princess Cruise may be the ultimate way to enjoy Alaska up-close and personal in 2007. 

Passengers will be treated to 170 tour options and 21 new excursions, including a host of novel private land programs. If exploring Juneau in a chauffeur-driven Hummer, soaring over Misty Fjords National Monument in a private floatplane or exploring the historic highlights of Skagway in a vintage Cadillac is your calling, then Princess has you covered.

“Our guests have become more diverse than ever, and these private adventures offer outstanding new options for the independent-minded traveler,” said Charlie Ball, president of Princess Tours. 

Private excursions run the gamut. In Ketchikan, look for land, sea and air options to include a custom Hummer adventure (also offered in Juneau), transportation in a private stretch SUV; a private 20-foot custom-built open-air skiff, or travel by private floatplane. In Skagway, look for custom classic cars to transport passengers as they explore the sights. While in Sitka, look for an Alaska cruise adventure aboard a new, 30-foot catamaran.

Each private tour includes the services of a guide/chauffeur who will lend local expertise. Tours can accommodate between four and 10 guests, depending on the excursion.

Passengers opting instead for more traditional land programs – as part of a larger group – will not be disappointed, and will find opportunities anything but ordinary. For instance, in Skagway, passengers might enjoy a one-of-a-kind Klondike Gold Rush adventure. The tour features transportation on the famed White Pass & Yukon Route railroad to the abandoned town of Bennett, once a vital stop for gold-seekers. While stepping back in time, passengers will also enjoy a hearty prospector’s meal.

Look also for salmon bakes and glacier discoveries by helicopter, where passengers can explore Chilkat Glacier, Ferebee Glacier or Meade Glacier on what Princess officials are calling an “unforgettable” walking tour. The line will be sending eight ships – its largest deployment ever – to Alaska this year. Passengers can choose from 139 departures aboard a diverse fleet, ranging from 670 to 2,670 passengers.

The line has also unveiled a series of mid-week departures of its popular Gulf of Alaska cruises aboard the intimate Pacific Princess. In addition, Golden Princess will make her Alaska debut, adding new choice and expanding the capacity of Princess’ popular Inside Passage program.

Passengers will have more opportunities than ever to visit Glacier Bay in 2007, as Princess ships sail into the national park a record 78 times. The line will, in fact, carry more passengers to this spectacle of ice than any other cruise line. Travelers can choose from Gulf of Alaska cruises and cruisetours or round-trip Inside Passage sailings from Seattle and San Francisco.

Princess remains the only company to offer Alaska’s two most popular attractions – Mt. McKinley and Glacier Bay – on virtually every cruisetour.