The Montana-based tour operator Austin Adventures will expand its Alaska presence in 2019, based, in part, on feedback from previous guests.
"In 2018, we're experiencing double-digit growth overall and especially in requests for custom and exclusive itineraries," company founder and president Dan Austin said in a statement. "Alumni travelers and their friends account for fully 60% of this season's success."
In response to those client requests and positive reviews, Austin Adventures has added several hiking, multi-sport and small-ship itineraries to next year's schedule.
The company's new eight-day Alaska-Prince William Sound cruise will spotlight south-central Alaska's coastal scenery, wildlife and recreation.
It's available through a partnership with Offshore Outpost Expeditions, with Austin Adventures operating as a commission-based wholesaler. Trips booked through Austin Adventures are offered at the same rate, but travelers also receive trip discounts, more flexible cancellation options and other alumni benefits on future journeys with the company.
Outings begin and end in Anchorage, and cruise segments depart from Whittier or Cordova. Guests travel aboard the 160-foot Pacific Provider, an expedition ship with indoor and outdoor dining venues, a seven-person Jacuzzi and decks for wildlife watching and photography. Six staterooms have private bathrooms and Gilchrist & Soames amenities, along with 6-foot picture windows and high-definition TVs linked to an onboard media library.
Tours showcase the tidewater glaciers of Blackstone Bay, ice caves at the head of Shoup Bay, the fishing spots of Port Fidalgo, scenic Two Moon Bay and a remote salmon hatchery on Esther Island. On an overland journey to the beaches of Boswell Bay, guests see how a 1964 earthquake pushed the shore more than a mile from today's waterline.
As they explore the landscape, guests will learn about Alaska Native cultures. They can also spot wildlife and choose from daily adventures that range from kayak outings to shoreline hikes to salmon-fishing expeditions. Travelers have to option to hand off their fresh catch to the on-board culinary team, who will cook and serve it on the ship, or have the fish packed and sealed to take home.
Austin Adventures' 2019 Alaska-Prince William Sound tours, offered between May and September, start at $8,900 per person, double occupancy. Single/solo cabin supplements are $4,000 per guest. Rates include airport transfers and pre-cruise lodging in Anchorage, staterooms, all meals and snacks, guide services and use of gear.
The 2019 additions from Austin Adventures follow the summer launch of the Austin Collection, the company's partnership with a portfolio of eight upscale, all-inclusive resorts around the world. By booking a stay through Austin Adventures, travelers receive alumni perks on future trips with the company.
Alaska's Sheldon Chalet, a luxury inn that opened in early 2018, is one of the inaugural Austin Collection properties. The fly-in resort is located on private land surrounded by Denali National Park and Preserve.