n often-heard lament on a cruise vacation is that its structure doesn't give passengers a chance to become immersed in local events.

It's not so difficult in Alaska, where clients can tie in a cruise with one of several summer fairs, music concerts or Alaskan events such as logging and native sports competitions.

Another bonus: Many of these events are free -- or cost substantially less than a ship-purchased shore excursion.

There are several ongoing attractions that don't necessitate planning a cruise for specific dates. For example, at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, museum lovers can check out "Eskimo Drawings," a collection of art created by Inupiat and Yupik artists as long ago as 1099, and a collection of Native American glass art called "Fusing Traditions: Transformations in Glass by Native American Artists."

In Ketchikan, meanwhile, the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show is held several times a day throughout the summer. It features logrolling, sawing, chopping, axe throwing, speed-climbing and some bawdy lumberjack (but family-friendly) humor for about $30 per person (children's tickets are about $15).

According to the show's Web site, at www.lumberjackshows.com/alaska, clients can purchase tickets on board their cruise ship, on the Web or at the show grounds in Ketchikan.

For passengers choosing a pre- or post-cruise stay in Anchorage, there are plenty of summer-long events, including weekly open-air markets that feature Alaska-grown produce, seafood, crafts and gifts. The markets are open Saturdays in downtown Anchorage; call (907) 272-5634 for more information.

Anchorage also is home to Music in the Park, which features live summer concerts at noon on Wednesdays and Fridays between mid-May and mid-September at the park on Fourth Avenue and E Street.

Travel Weekly pulled together a calendar of events, culled from the convention and visitors bureaus of the major southeastern Alaska port cities, including which ships are in port on the relevant dates.

As most of these events don't kick off for three or four months, many festival or event details haven't been posted. Check with the relevant city bureau or the contact information provided for times and ticket prices -- and how to get to and from the cruise ship.

Ketchikan, a port on the Inside Passage, will hold the Celebration of the Sea Art Walk on May 7. Above, a view of the town's waterfront. • May 7: Celebration of the Sea Art Walk, Ketchikan. Local galleries will host simultaneous openings and receptions. For more details, call (907) 225-221.

Ships in port: Cruise West's Spirit of Endeavor.

• May 21 to 29: 18th annual Jazz and Classics, Juneau. This event brings blues, jazz and classical musicians to play in various locations around the city.

Passengers on Clipper Cruise Line's Yorktown Clipper and the Carnival Spirit can take part in the kickoff weekend events, which include jazz and blues day cruises for $60 per person, but free concerts are held every day at noon outside the State Office Building. For details, visit www.jazzandclassics.org.

Ships in port: Yorktown Clipper; Carnival Spirit; Royal Caribbean International's Radiance of the Seas; Holland America Line's Amsterdam, Oosterdam, Zaandam, Ryndam, Veendam, Volendam and Statendam; Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sun and SuperStar Leo; Princess Cruises' Coral Princess, Island Princess, Sun Princess and Dawn Princess; Cruise West's Spirit of Oceanus and Spirit of Endeavor; and American West Steamboat Co.'s Empress of the North.

• June 3 to 5: Celebration 2004, Juneau. This is an Alaska native cultural event that's held once every two years. Arts and crafts, a procession and native performances are part of the mix. For more information, call (907) 463-4844.

Ships in port: Yorktown Clipper; Sun Princess and Dawn Princess; Empress of the North; Statendam and Volendam; Royal Caribbean International's Serenade of the Seas; Celebrity Cruises' Infinity; Cruise West's Spirit of 98; and Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Mariner.

• June 4 to 25: Sitka Summer Music Festival, a month-long music celebration. The final calendar hasn't been posted, but there are evening concerts, weekend events and lunchtime concerts on Thursdays that Amsterdam and Yorktown Clipper passengers can sit in on. For more details, visit www.sitkamusicfestival.org.

• June 5 and 6, and June 12 and 13: Three Barons Renaissance Fair, Anchorage. The Renaissance didn't quite make it to Anchorage when it was in full swing, but each June three "baronies" (the Red Baron, Green Baron and Blue Baron, along with assorted merrymakers) converge here for a Renaissance festival. As its Web site, at www.3barons.org, states: "Shouldst thou need more info," call (907) 868-8012.

Ships in port: Spirit of Oceanus; Veendam and Statendam (Seward), Coral Princess and Island Princess (Whittier); and Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow.

• June 13: Juneau Art and Garden Fair. This is for cruisers who've brought their green thumbs along for the cruise.

This first-time fair, which will be held in the city's Marine Park Plaza, will offer original garden art, plants and flowers, landscaping ideas and seminars by gardening experts. For more information, visit www.juneauartscouncil.org.

Ships in port: Celebrity's Summit and Mercury.

• June 19 and 20: Spirit Days, Anchorage. One of the state's biggest festivals celebrating Alaska native and American Indian culture. Visitors can eat traditional native dishes and see drum and dance performances, crafts displays and Alaska native sports. For details, call (907) 272-8756.

Ships in port: Island Princess (Whittier), Veendam (Seward).

• June 20: Summer Solstice, Skagway. Live music, family games and a beer garden are part of this festival celebrating the longest day of the year. The celebration starts at 5 p.m. at Skagway's softball fields, so only passengers on Princess' Regal Princess, which departs at 8:30 p.m., and the Yorktown Clipper, which departs at 4 a.m., will be able to catch this one. Call (907) 983-2235 for more information.

Ships in port: Yorktown Clipper; Regal Princess.

• June 26 and 27: Juneau Gold Rush Days. This will be the 15th year for the Gold Rush Days, which commemorate Juneau's role in the Klondike Gold Rush. The two-day event features logging and mining competitions, gold panning, a children's carnival and arts and crafts. For more information, call (907) 586-2497.

Ships in port: Yorktown Clipper; Carnival Spirit; Seven Seas Mariner; Summit and Mercury; and Crystal Cruises' Crystal Harmony.

• July 4: Independence Day events. Nearly every Alaskan town that hosts cruise calls also hosts a Fourth of July celebration of some kind.

Skagway, for example, calls it "an old-fashioned family fun day." Call (907) 983-1898.

Juneau's celebration begins at midnight on July 3 with a gala fireworks presentation; if your ship arrives in Juneau on July 4, you'll still be able to get in on some other events, including a parade and a sand castle-building contest. Call (907) 364-3346.

Ships in port: Mercury (Juneau); Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas (Juneau); Summit (Ketchikan); Ryndam (Sitka); Spirit of 98 (Sitka); Carnival Spirit (Skagway); and Seven Seas Mariner (Skagway).

• July 4: Duck Derby, Skagway. In a diversion from the Independence Day parades, more than 1,000 plastic ducklings "race" to a finish line over a route that includes passing through culverts and under railroad tracks.

Spectators can purchase a ticket for a duck and then cheer it on to the finish line. Contact the Skagway Chamber of Commerce at (907) 983-1898 for more information.

Ships in port: Carnival Spirit, Seven Seas Mariner.

• Aug. 6 to 8, Blueberry Arts Festival, Ketchikan. This three-day festival features more than 70 arts and crafts vendors, food stands, games, music and pie-eating contests.

For details, call the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council at (907) 225-2211.

Ships in port: Amsterdam; Ryndam and Veendam; Seven Seas Mariner; Serenade of the Seas and Vision of the Seas; Regal Princess and Sun Princess; Empress of the North, NCL's Norwegian Star and Cruise West's Spirit of Discovery.

• Aug. 7: Summer Beer Festival, Ketchikan. This event, held outdoors at the Great Alaskan Lumberjack show grounds, promises 40 different brews "for your tasting pleasure."

Tickets are available at the entrance. For more information, visit www.ketchikancharr.com.

Also near Ketchikan is the Metlakatla Founders Day Celebration, an annual commemoration of the founding of the Metlakatla Indian Community in 1887.

An hour-long ferry ride will get cruise passengers from Ketchikan to Metlakatla. For details, call (877) 886-8687.

Ships in port: Regal Princess and Sun Princess, Empress of the North, Spirit of Discovery.

• Aug. 8 to 10, Flower & Garden Show, Skagway. This annual event "showcases the variety, size and beauty of Skagway's gardens and flower-adorned businesses." For information, call (907) 983-2387

Ships in port: Carnival Spirit; Seven Seas Mariner; Mercury, Summit and Infinity; Regal Princess and Sapphire Princess; Vision of the Seas, Norwegian Star; and Veendam.

• Aug. 11 to 15: Southeast Alaska State Fair and Bald Eagle Music Festival, Haines. The fair includes a parade, demonstrations by local artists, a logging show, live music and food.

Last year's ticket prices ran about $7 per person; for details and 2004 ticket information, call (907) 766-2476.

Ships in port: Yorktown Clipper; Ryndam; Spirit of 98 and Spirit of Discovery; and Silver Shadow.

• Aug. 26 to Sept. 6: Alaska State Fair, Palmer. Livestock, arts, winemaking, baked goods and flowers are just a few of the exhibit categories at the fair, taking place just north of Anchorage.

Clients likely will need to purchase a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay to to see this. For details, visit www.alaskastatefair.org or call (907) 745-4827.

Ships in port: Seven Seas Mariner (Seward); Summit (Seward); Vision of the Seas (Seward); Ryndam, Veendam and Statendam (Seward); Island Princess, Sun Princess and Coral Princess (Whittier); and Carnival Spirit (Whittier).

To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].

Port Calls

Anchorage
Phone: (907) 276-4118
Web:www.anchorage.net
E-mail:[email protected]

Haines
Phone: (800) 458-3579
Web:www.haines.ak.us
E-mail:[email protected]

Juneau
Phone: (800) 587-2201
Web:www.traveljuneau.com
E-mail:[email protected]

Ketchikan
Phone: (907) 225-6166
Web:www.visit-ketchikan.com
E-mail:[email protected]

Sitka
Phone: (907)747-5940
Web:www.sitka.org
E-mail:[email protected]

Skagway
Phone: (907) 983-2854
Web:www.skagway.org
E-mail:[email protected]

Wrangell
Phone: (907) 874-2381
Web:www.wrangell.com
E-mail:[email protected]

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