Alaska lines trace whale route south

LA PAZ, Mexico -- Rather than "Go west, young man!" Alaska small-ship operators apparently are hearing "Go south!" Two of the top operators, Alaska Sightseeing/Cruise West and Alaska's Glacier Bay Tours and Cruises, have positioned ships in Mexico's Baja California and the Sea of Cortes for the first time this winter.

In doing so, they've doubled the number of small ships in the scenic region from three to six. Not to confuse potential passengers and agents, both lines have dropped Alaska from their name for their southern routes -- becoming Cruise West and Voyager Cruise Line.

Like Alaska, this part of Mexico is ripe with natural wonders and wildlife, including whales. The Alaska operators here join New York-based Lindblad Special Expeditions, which offers four- and seven-day expedition cruises from December to mid-April, and St. Louis-based Clipper Cruise Line, which offers 11-day cruise-tours in April and November.

Lindblad Special Expeditions reservations: (800) 397-3348. Clipper Cruise Line reservations: (800) 325-0010

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