Quick Jump to Articles:
A Tropical Alternative to the Winter Holidays
Travelers seeking to avoid the hustle and bustle that leads to holiday season stress can instead opt for warm weather, fun activities and the experience of traditional local holiday customs on two of Cruise West’s most distinctive Latin American Holiday Cruises.
As a second-generation, family-owned business, Cruise West understands the importance of spending the holidays with loved ones and has crafted outstanding itineraries that allow guests to celebrate together while also learning about local customs and traditions. With its relaxed, casual and intimate atmosphere, Cruise West gives guests the opportunity to sail through Christmas and New Year’s Day in the stunning locales of Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama while enjoying life-enhancing experiences without life-shortening stress.
Mexico's Sea of Cortés, Whales and Wildlife
With Whales & Wildlife holiday sailings departing on December 24 and 31, 2005, Cruise West offers opportunities to experience celebrations onboard that coincide with the celebrations on land. On December 24, Nochebuena, locals welcome the birth of Baby Jesus with fireworks and a feast, while Cruise West guests will enjoy a midnight feast of their own. On December 25, Navidad, the Mexicans traditionally attend a Christmas Mass and then celebrate with siestas. Cruise West will host its own siestas on the beach, followed by a day of relaxation.
New Year's Eve, Vispera de Ano Nuevo is rung in with music, fireworks and parties till dawn. Onboard the ship, guests will also share a Champagne toast and a midnight buffet. While children receive their gifts on Three Kings Day, Día de los Santos Reyes (January 6), Cruise West guests will spend the day in a Baja town, enjoying the festivities and delivering gifts to a local charity. Whales and Wildlife itineraries begin at $2,199 per person, double-occupancy for the seven-night cruise.
Costa Rica & Panama, Between Two Seas
Other Between Two Seas holiday cruise highlights include a visit to the Kuna Indians on the San Blas Islands, discovering the legends of pirates and galleons in Portobelo, transiting the Panama Canal at eye-level, traversing three sets of locks, and exploring the emerald reaches of the Darién Jungle and meeting the Emberá villagers. Guests have the opportunity to observe more than fifteen species of coral near the Isla de Coiba National Park, stroll through the beautiful gardens of Orchid House and look for more than 100 mammal and 180 bird species at Manuel Antonio National Park. They will experience a world hidden from most others who visit this area and celebrate the holidays enriched by gentle cultures, vibrant wildlife and fragrant fauna. The Between Two Seas Holiday Cruise begins at $3,799 per person, double occupancy for the 10-day, nine-night cruise.
As part of Cruise West’s 2005-2006 season, tax and fees are included in all package prices. Guests are neither expected nor required to tip for onboard services.
From Vibrant Toucans to Calfornia Wineries to Orange Seahorses
Guests aboard Cruise West's 2006 Americas itineraries will be given the opportunity to explore a wonderland of lush, tropical forests, spectacular vineyard estates and countless wildlife habitats in Central and North America, while cruising itineraries unmatched by others. In all, the largest-American owned cruise line will offer five breathtaking destination experiences in 2006, including:
Costa Rica & Panama
Mexico's Sea of Cortés
Columbia & Snake Rivers
California Wine Country
As part of Cruise West's new itineraries, tax and gratuity are included in all package prices. Guests are neither expected nor required to tip for onboard or land-based services.
Cruise West's Coastal Odyssey
For more than 1,600 miles, between Vancouver and Anchorage, guests aboard one of Cruise West's Coastal Odyssey itineraries will experience the spectacular wonders of nature – from cliffs that soar 3,000 feet from the waters edge to the magnificent "salmon forest" of British Columbia, where millions of spawning salmon support dense concentrations of forest life. From May through the beginning of September, guests can choose from 12-, 14- or 16- day itineraries aboard the Spirit of Oceanus, the newly renovated all-suite flagship, beginning at $5,797 per person, double occupancy.
The Coastal Odyssey "A" cruise begins by sailing under the Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver through nutrient-rich waters, home to whales and porpoise and surrounded by the majestic evergreens of the Great Bear Rainforest, home to the oldest and largest trees on earth. Here, guests will meet and interact with First Nations, a culture of Aboriginal Canadians, while visiting a remote village on the British Columbian coast. Cruising Alaska through the tremendous granite cliffs of Misty Fjords, guests will visit Metlakatla, a Tsimshian community, where they are welcomed with a special performance dance in the tribal long house. Later, guests will explore the waters of Frederick Sound for humpback and orca whales, seals, sea lions and porpoise.
The Spirit of Oceanus will sail up Tracy Arm, a fjord home to the largest icebergs in Alaska, to the twin Sawyer Glaciers, lined with steep cliffs and adorned with icebergs, then to Gastineau Channel and Juneau. At Glacier Bay National Park, an onboard Park Service Ranger will assist guests in spotting various wildlife. After strolling along the totem-laced forest trail of Sitka National Historic Park, the former capital of Russian America, guests will enter the romantic Gulf of Alaska, set amongst the background of snowcapped mountains. Before sailing to Anchorage to head home, guests may also see puffins, orcas, seals and sea lions along the beaches of remote Kenai Fjords National Park.
The Coastal Odyssey "B" cruise allows guests to add a stay at Denali National Park and Preserve for an additional four days. Along this extended voyage, guests will travel by motorcoach to Talkeetna where they will board a deluxe domed railcar for the journey to the park. At the park, a guide will assist guests in locating moose, grizzly bears, caribou and Dall sheep. Guests will also have the opportunity for other optional activities including up-close flightseeing, heli-hiking, whitewater rafting and float trips, or horseback riding. As the voyage comes to an end, guests will ride down the Chena and Tanana Rivers, aboard an authentic sternwheeler riverboat, the main form of transportation in the North for more than a century.
Cruise West, on the Coastal Odyssey "D & DD" itineraries, offers travelers an extended stay at an extraordinary lodge of their choice, Redoubt Bay Lodge or Winterlake Lodge. Redoubt Bay Lodge, open during the fishing/bear season, features three rustic cabins that can accommodate up to 20 guests. The Lodge encompasses the excitement of the great terrain of Alaska, sitting on 171,000-acres of critical habitat area, which is home to many wildlife species. Winterlake Lodge is open year-round and has many alternate activities including dog-sledding along the historic Alaskan Iditarod Trail. Because of the dense bear population, bear-sighting is not unusual on the D and DD itineraries.
Cruise West's First-Ever Japan Itinerary
Cruise West, the largest American-owned cruise line and leader in small ship cruising, will break new ground in exotic, experiential cruising in 2006 as it embarks on its first-ever exploration itinerary to Japan. Sailing aboard Cruise West's all-suite flagship, Spirit of Oceanus, guests will experience the journey of their lifetime on the line's new Japan Unveiled itinerary, available from March through October 2006.
Cruise West's Japan Unveiled cruises – 12 in all – run during the ideal seasons in Japan, encompassing Hanami, the season of cherry blossoms, or Momiji, the time of falling maple leaves. On sale now, prices begin at $5,349 per person, double occupancy. If booked and paid in full nine months prior to departure, guests can save up to $800 per person.
"This is one of the most important and exciting opportunities our company has ever offered," said Richard G. West, chairman and CEO, who personally helped design the new itinerary. "Our company has earned a reputation during the past 50 years for offering the kind of casual, intimate, up-close experiential cruises that the big ship lines simply cannot. We will take guests behind the cultural curtain to the insider's Japan – the coastal ports and feudal castle towns that shaped this island nation."
Cruise West will offer a choice of 13- or 16-night itineraries, exploring many areas that are simply inaccessible to large ships and off the well-traveled itinerary routes. Beginning in Kobe, one of the first port cities to begin accepting foreign traders following Japan's two and a half centuries of isolation, guests will tour the spectacular white Himeji Castle and from there will indulge in Zen perfection as they tour Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's three most famous gardens. Afterwards, they can participate in an ancient tea ceremony and travel the canals of Kurashiki, dotted with stone bridges and outlined with willow trees.
In Miyajima, guests view the magical red torii gates that appear to be floating at high tide at the Itsukushima Shrine, one of the most important Shinto shrines and, in Hiroshima, will tour the Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Dome. From there, Cruise West encourages guests to contemplate the geysers, mud ponds and exotic-colored pools and enjoy a hot soak at Jigoku, the most extreme onsen (hot spring) in Japan.
At Kyongju, guests step into the past to the ruins of the Korean Shilla dynasty, where the former glowing capital used to preside. From there, Cruise West sails to Kanazawa and showcases the extraordinary beauty of the spectacular Kenrokuen Garden, thought to be one of the most beautiful in all of Japan, adjoined with the Gyokusenen Garden. Finally, after disembarking the Spirit of Oceanus, guests move from past to present at speeds exceeding 300 kilometers per hour (about 186 miles per hour) on the shinkansen – Japanese high-speed bullet trains – from Niigata to Tokyo, providing guests with the sense of a culture in a technological movement more advanced than most countries.
Additionally, Cruise West gives the option of cruising for 16-nights to provide an up-close, intimate glimpse into the intrinsic heritage of Japan, viewing spiritual and natural art throughout the cities of Kyoto and Nara. The mighty bronze Buddha of Todaiji Temple, the largest bronze statue in the world, and the celebrated Kinkakuji Pavilion, an elaborate temple covered in gold leaf, are just two of the wonders that Cruise West's guests can explore there. Also, guests can seek serenity and peace by following the way of Buddha, wondering through Zen gardens where ancient Buddhists meditated for hours without disturbance from the outside world, hoping to achieve Enlightenment, the ultimate understanding to the truth of existence.
Ancient Paradise Explored in
For the guests sailing to the South Pacific on Cruise West's Spirit of Oceanus, life as they know it may never be the same after experiencing any one of four different voyage of discovery itineraries available in 2006. The largest American-owned cruise line will provide a rare opportunity for those with inquisitive minds and a spirit of adventure to unlock the mysteries of Pacific Island culture with intimate and inspirational sailings onboard its premier all-suite flagship.
Cruise West's South Pacific itineraries begin with the Holidays in Paradise voyage, scheduled to depart on December 20, 2005. Richard G. West, the line's Chairman and CEO, along with his wife Leslie and their family, will join Cruise West guests on this maiden voyage as "holiday hosts" venturing to discrete lands such as Papeete, Tahiti and Vostok Island, Kiribati where, on land, nine-pound coconut crabs are spotted and, underwater, guests find themselves in the midst of a marine extravaganza. The Holidays in Paradise voyage is priced beginning at $4,949*.
Departing January 1, 11 & 21, 2006, the Spirit of Oceanus will delve into the depths of exotic Tahitian culture and wildlife during the Island Sanctuaries itinerary, starting at $4,149*. While traveling through the breathtakingly pristine Society Islands and sailing to the remote Tuamotu and Marquesas Islands, guests will venture onto volcanic and coral islands and meet locals whose rich culture is evident in their handicrafts.
Cruise West's Pearls of Polynesia voyage crosses the International Dateline and explores untouched rainforests, coral reefs and spectacular waterfalls through the Fiji Islands, Cook Islands and Society Islands. Guests discover atolls and motus (small islands that are part of a coral reef) and even travel by inflatable craft to view nesting birds up-close. The Pearls of Polynesia trip departs February 4, 2006, and starts at $5,149*.
Ending the South Pacific experience, the Legends of the Pacific cruise sails February 16, 2006, and offers travelers the chance to visit remote and spectacular island chains. The Legends of the Pacific consists of distinctive combinations of age-old primitive island cultures, remnants of World War II sites in the Pacific and some of the most amazing underwater adventures on Earth, such as diving among rich coral reefs to view manta rays in their natural habitat. Cruise West guests will meet residents of villages who live as their ancestors did, with chieftains and medicine men still residing. The Legends of the Pacific voyage begins at $5,999*.
*Prices are per person, double occupancy and include taxes, port charges, fees and onboard services. Those who book their cruises and pay in full nine months prior to their departure can save up to $800 per person.
Alaska Gold Rush Voyages
Cruise West, the largest American-owned cruise line, is offering history and wildlife enthusiasts the opportunity to trace the exciting path of Old West settlers on Gold Rush Inside Passage cruises. Offered in the spring and early fall, the Gold Rush Inside Passage voyage is a 10-night exploration between Seattle and Juneau, visiting temperate rain forests in British Columbia and navigating the Peril Strait and Sergius Narrows to view towering totems in Sitka. It can also be taken as a 15-night excursion, including an additional stay at Denali National Park.
The Gold Rush Inside Passage traces the path of many earlier adventurers who traveled north seeking (and sometimes finding) a dream of riches. The first big gold strike occurred in Juneau in 1880 when two prospectors found and collected 1,000 pounds of ore on their first trip. In 1896, gold strikes in Klondike brought more fortune hunters to Alaska in search of their dreams. Later, in 1899, gold found on the beaches in Nome encouraged dreamers such as Wyatt Earp to venture to "The Great Land." Today, major gold mining operations continue in the Fairbanks area.
Considered one of the most fulfilling cruises that Cruise West has to offer, the 2005 Gold Rush Inside Passage offers guests extensive wildlife encounters and sceneries unrivaled in beauty, including waterfalls formed by glacially-carved granite at Tracy Arm, active tidewater glaciers that are home to thousands of harbor seals in LeConte Bay, and vibrant wildflowers and lush terrain nurtured by the Tongass Rainforest in Juneau. Cruise West passengers who choose to extend their voyage to 15 nights also make additional stops beyond Denali National Park at Hurricane Gulch and Broad Pass while ascending into the Alaska Range.
Other destinations on the voyage include Glacier Bay National Park, where a National Park Service Ranger offers insightful narration and helps guests spot harbor seals, mountain goats and brown and black bears in rare regions, and the Frederick Sound, where whale sightings are prevalent.The 1,000-mile voyage starts at $3,099 per person and the Denali National Park option starts at $5,299 per person. Those who book Gold Rush Inside Passage cruises for departures on June 15 or earlier can save as much as $200 per person if a deposit is made by February 25, 2005.
Whales Guaranteed On 'Wilderness Waterways' Itinerary
Cruise West is guaranteeing whale sightings on its "Wilderness Waterways" itinerary, a relatively new eight-night cruise package that offers an unspoiled view of Alaska, reminiscent of its early cruising days, or it will refund $250 to passengers. The itinerary combines Southeastern Alaska's two most magnificent fjords, Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm, and two of its most interesting ports, Juneau and Sitka, with access to a backwater wilderness, bypassed by almost all other cruise ships, large and small. Passengers are introduced to a world of hidden inlets, waterfalls, boardwalk hamlets, islands, islets, rainforest trails, wildlife refuges, inter-tidal zones and a rarely-visited Tlingit Indian community.
Cruise West's 78-passenger Spirit of Columbia and 84-passenger Spirit of Discovery sail roundtrip from Juneau, focusing on the northern half of Alaska's 1,000-island Alexander Archipelago. The package (seven nights on the ship, one in Juneau) has 19 departures, June 7 through August 30. Double-occupancy cruise rates range from $2,999 to $5,349, port charges, taxes and fees included. Single travelers can book a category "B" or "C" cabin for themselves on the Spirit of Columbia at the twin rate with no supplemental charges.
A highlight of the cruise is the opportunity to go "gunk holing" -- a form of exploration by ship that lets curiosity be the guide. The cruise schedule and size of the ship allows the captain to go almost anywhere he thinks might be interesting for the passengers and to idle the engines when wildlife such as whales, bear, deer, sea lions, seals, porpoise, eagles and mountain goats are spotted.
The ship explores the coves, coastline and inlets around the perimeter of Admiralty Island National Monument, where the only inhabitants are vastly outnumbered by bears. Passengers tour Kake on Kupreanof Island, a village of 700 Tlingits, whose livelihood still derives from the forest and the sea, welcome guests ashore with a dance performance in traditional costume. Kake is also home to the world's tallest totem pole -- 132 feet high -- standing on a bluff above the village. Other activities include whale watching in Frederick Sound; walking through an inter-tidal zone, habitat for sea anemone, jellyfish, sea stars and other species; and visiting the "off-the-beaten-path" boardwalk hamlet of Elfin Cove or Pelican, built on stilts over tidewater where mountain meets sea and home to a year-round population of fewer than 50.
The cruise takes in glaciers in both arms of "Sum Dum Bay," explored in 1880 by John Muir escorted by Tlingits in their 40-foot dugout canoe and known today as Tracy and Endicott arms, using small excursion craft for close-up views of the icebergs, and transits Peril Strait and Surges Narrows, channels only accessible by small ships and so narrow that it seems like cruising through the forest.
Travelers spend a day in Sitka-by-the-Sea, Russia's Alaskan headquarters from 1804 to 1867, and site of St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church, the Raptor Rehabilitation Center, Sitka National Historical Monument, and local museums of Russian artifacts and native Alaskan art. A pre-cruise day and night of leisure in Juneau, Alaska's capital city, can be spent visiting the many museums, galleries and public plazas or doing optional activities that include riding a mountaintop tram, "flightseeing" to the Juneau Ice Cap and salmon fishing.
The American-flagged and crewed Spirit of Columbia and Spirit of Discovery have forward lounges and plenty of deck space to view and photograph the wildlife and scenery. Open seating in the dining room, which specializes in Alaskan seafood and continental cuisine, and a casual dress code contribute to a relaxed atmosphere, encouraging cruise guests to become acquainted.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please