DENNIS HARDY, the deputy transportation commissioner who oversees the Alaska Marine Highway System, is resigning, citing personal reasons. Hardy was responsible for the plan to cut ferry service from Bellingham, Wash., through Alaska's Inside Passage to one trip per week. The decision was criticized in southern Southeast communities that rely heavily on the state's ferry traffic for tourists and the dollars they bring. Hardy said removing the ferry Malaspina from Bellingham would save the ferry system millions of dollars. Hardy and ferry officials were also criticized for being late to release the ferry system's summer schedule. Hardy will remain with the department until May 16.
AMERICAN SAFARI CRUISES' new luxury yacht, the 36-passenger Safari Explorer, is poised to make its first Alaska port call this spring. The 145-foot ship is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation in Seattle in preparation for its Alaska debut on May 30. The vessel will sail seven-night roundtrip cruises from Juneau. The Safari Explorer is the cruise line's fourth luxury yacht. New design features will include two suites with balconies and Jacuzzi tubs, some triple accommodations and all-outside or above-deck staterooms. Like other American Safari vessels, the new yacht will carry double sea kayaks and motorized shore boats. The Safari Explorer will cruise from Juneau through Sept. 5. The yacht will have a two-to-one guest-crew ratio, including two professional naturalists and a park ranger in Glacier Bay. For information or to book, call (888) 862-8881 or visit www.amsafari.com.
GRAY LINE OF ALASKA is offering a number of sightseeing options in Alaska, including a narrated Anchorage city tour, a one-hour Portage Glacier cruise aboard the 200-passsenger Ptarmigan and a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The Anchorage city tour, for example, explores historical points of interest in downtown Anchorage and includes a stop at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which showcases Alaska's 11 major cultural groups. Visit www.graylineofalaska.com.
ALASKA AIRLINES named Brad Walker managing director of leisure and group-travel marketing. A 25-year veteran of Alaska Airlines, Walker previously served as director of leisure marketing, responsible for Alaska Airlines Vacations' leisure and tour business. In his expanded role, Walker will also manage the airline's relationships with online travel agencies and cruise lines and lead marketing and sales for meetings and group business.
Alaska Editor: Jorge Sidron
Phone: (973) 898-0011
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