A TEMSCO Helicopter lands us on top of Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau
Princess is one of the cruise lines where I have a high degree of regard for the selection and execution of the shore tours offered during the cruises. This cruise line selection of its tour partners has always impressed me as knowledgable and efficient - and ultimately that is the cruise lines' most important job - selecting the right tour partners.
So I take extra notice when Princess chooses to publicly cite specific tour partners for doing an outstanding best job for the line during the 2012 Alaska cruise season. This list is very valuable information for anyone planning to cruise to Alaska any time in the future. These are well established companies, I am familiar with many of them, so they should remain on the tour rosters for all of the quality cruise lines going to Alaska for the foreseeable future.
As I have reported before; especially for Alaska cruises, the shore tours you select define the experience far more than most cruise regions, such as the Caribbean. The reason is that the best Alaska experiences can only be accomplished by provide who provide small and specialized tour experiences while your ship is in port.
I have personally tried many of the same tour operators as Princess recognizes with these awards; especially TEMSCO Helicopters and the Taku Lodge, and I agree with the findings, these were incredible experiences and without them my Alaska cruise would not have been nearly as memorable - even though I actually used these same tour operators while cruising to Alaska on a different cruise line.
Princess refers to these awards as the C.R.U.I.S.E. service awards, which honor "the best shore excursion experiences and guides in each port on Alaska itineraries, based largely on passenger feedback throughout the season." Princess says its Alaska C.R.U.I.S.E. awards began in 2000 making these the 13th annual awards. That fact that they are largely based on customer response says a lot about these winners.
The 2012 winners are:
Shore Excursion of the Season
Princess also recognizes individual tour guides and gives them a cash prize, letter of commendation and honorific plaque.
Juneau: Shaynee Seipke, Gold Rush Tours / TEMSCO Helicopters Adriane Honerbrink, Gastineau Guiding Company
Ketchikan: Don Andrews, Alaska Amphibious Tours Rob Holston, Lighthouse Excursions
Skagway: Aaron Schmidt, Jewell Gardens Matt Hayashida, Gold Rush Sled Dogs / Klondike Gold Fields Dock Representative of the Season
Juneau: Jackie Schulz, juneau jeep adventures
Ketchikan: Jill Gates, The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show
Skagway: Karin Lombard, Klondike Gold Fields