Cruise West set to go kayaking

SEATTLE -- Cruise West is marketing sea kayaking tours out of the Prince William Sound communities of Whittier and Cordova, offered during the company's May-to-September Alaska cruising season.

The four- and five-hour excursions include instructions in safety and paddling techniques along with the services of a local kayaking guide.

Groups of up to 24 kayakers in Whittier and 12 kayakers in Cordova venture out in single or double kayaks. Clients pay $220 to participate in both tours.

Both kayaking tours are offered as part of Cruise West's new Outdoors Alaska cruise-tour itinerary, which combines a four-night Prince William Sound cruise on the Spirit of Glacier Bay with stays at two wilderness lodges in the Denali National Park area.

Two Cruise West small ships, Spirit of Glacier Bay and Spirit of Columbia, call in Valdez and Cordova as part of four-night Prince William Sound cruises out of Whittier, located about 60 miles southeast of Anchorage.

Prince William Sound forms the northern extent of the Gulf of Alaska, encompassing a region of about 3,000 square miles.

Whittier, with a population of 250, was built secretly during World War II to provide an ice-free, deepwater port for Alaska military operations.

The kayaking tour from Whittier first travels by small ship to a remote cove, where kayakers set out in search of eagle nests, sea otters and brown or black bears along the shoreline. Lunch is served on shore before the return trip to Whittier to board the ship.

Cordova, on Orca Inlet near the mouth of the Copper River, has a population of about 2,600.

Founded in 1906, the town was originally the railroad terminus and ocean shipping port for copper ore produced at the Kennecott mines in what is now Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

The railroad and mine shut down in 1938, and the local economy is now fueled by fishing.

Cruise West's kayaking excursion in Cordova puts in several miles from town so paddlers can enjoy an unspoiled view of the coastline and the Chugach Mountains.

Depending on the time of summer, kayakers can expect to see spawning salmon, bears, otters and sea lions. The Cordova area also is on one of the main bird migration routes to and from Arctic Alaska.

Cruise West's four-night Prince William Sound cruises are priced from $895 per person.

For more information or reservations, call (800) 426-7702 or visit the company's Web site at www.cruisewest.com.

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