Travel Weekly's Alaska E-letter: Jan. 23, 2008

PRINCESS CRUISES will offer 224 shore excursions during this year's Alaska season, 37 more than last year. New tours include the opportunity to go behind the scenes on a commercial fishing vessel featured on the Discovery Channel series, "Deadliest Catch"; a zip-lining excursion geared to families; a private, five-course Alaskan Chef's Table tour; and a walking tour of Skagway that takes in the town's Klondike gold rush-era buildings. A Princess exclusive in Juneau is the Private Whale Watch & Custom Juneau tour, featuring a jet-boat excursion to the day's best whale-watching spot and a customized onshore tour for groups of no more than 10 people.

IN OTHER PRINCESS NEWS, the Tahitian Princess will sail a 14-day Connoisseur itinerary featuring a number of calls not usually included on most Alaskan cruises, including visits to Kodiak, Valdez and Seward. These new ports combined account for 20 new excursion options, Princess said. Princess will offer 136 departures to Alaska this year aboard eight ships. For information or to book, call (800) PRINCESS or visit www.princess.com.

CRUISE WEST is offering an early-booking bonus of up to $550 for Alaska Inside Passage itineraries booked by Feb. 29. Cruise West is offering five Inside Passage itineraries in 2008, including a new optional land tour of Denali National Park and Preserve. Inside Passage itineraries range from a three-night Glacier Bay Highlight cruise aboard the recently rechristened Spirit of Glacier Bay (formerly the Spirit of Nantucket) for $1,799 per person, double, to an 11-night Coastal Odyssey cruise aboard the all-suite Spirit of Oceanus for $7,599. To book, call (800) 296-8307 or visit www.cruisewest.com.

ABERCROMBIE & KENT is promoting its Alaska itineraries for 2008 aboard its 118-passenger Clipper Odyssey. The small ship carries a fleet of Zodiac boats that make it possible for small groups of passengers to go ashore in areas without piers or docking facilities. Alaska itineraries are headed by a team of naturalists and historians who accompany guests onshore and conduct lectures and discussions onboard. Abercrombie & Kent's Hidden Inside Passage itinerary, for example, includes an up-close view of the Hubbard and Le Conte glaciers and a cruise through the narrow fjords of Prince William Sound. Passengers will visit the Hidden Falls Hatchery and the "Waterfall Coast" of South Baranof Island before cruising through Misty Fjords accompanied by a Tlingit elder. The 13-day itinerary costs from $6,995 per person, double. To book or for additional information, call (800) 554-7094 or visit www.akodyssey.com.

HOT-AIR BALLOONING is coming to Alaska. As many as 10 balloons will take to the skies from Talkeetna to Portage along the mountainous region of south-central Alaska during the Alaska World Balloon Challenge. The event is scheduled for Feb. 26 to March 2 to coincide with the Fur Rendezvous winter festival and the Iditarod dogsled race. Organizers are planning to bring balloon pilots from all over the world to Anchorage for the event. The plan is to have pilots do an extensive weather briefing, submit a flight plan and then execute it. The pilots would be judged on how well they execute their plans. Visit www.awbc.info.

Alaska Editor: Jorge Sidron

Phone: (973) 898-0011

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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