Editor's Note
Alaska Sea Lion
Alaska is Heating Up

Got a nose for news? This isn't bad news from an environmental group. It's great news about Alaska cruises selling like hotcakes. Thinking about a cruise to the Great White North this year? It's time to start your research.

Tourism is always big in Alaska, but the economy is a factor up there, too. The locals are abuzz about great airfare and hotel deals, but you don't have to be a local to get a great Alaska cruise bargain, the cruise lines already have the savings cooked into their jaw-dropping prices.

Take a look at what Princess is offering. Through February 28 the Princess Wilderness Sale features four Seattle-based cruisetours including a 7-day "Voyage of the Glaciers" cruise trip beginning in Seattle and ending in Anchorage. You transfer to a specially designed railroad car that takes you to Denali National park where you see the tallest mountain in North America. You spend two nights at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and one or two at Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge. Then you return to Anchorage where you are flown back to Seattle.

All the transfers, cruising and railroad travel are included in the price. All you have to do is arrange roundtrip airfare to Seattle. Fares start at an astounding $1099 for the 11-night version of this cruisetour. The package also includes one night in a Seattle hotel and transportation from Seattle to Vancouver by motorcoach. Naturally, some of the cruisetours do the entire trip in reverse.

Princess is not the only option. We see fantastic offers from Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and naturally Holland America. Holland America located to Seattle decades ago for an advantage in the Alaska cruise market.

And don't forget what the small cruise lines can do; Cruise West and American Safari offer close-up views of Alaska that one simply cannot see on a big cruise ship. These small ship cruises actually stop when they see a pod of whales and turn to follow them; You get an up close view of Alaska wildlife at its finest.

Here's a note if you have children. Younger kids will generally enjoy Alaska more than they will Europe. The state is full of wildlife and exciting walls of ice that crash into the sea. Europe is better for more mature kids who have some education in the cultural and historic elements.

We are already seeing more and more people with Alaska cruises booked coming into CruiseMates to ask what tours are best. Those who have yet to book are asking what cabins and which side of the ship are best. You want a balcony cabin in Alaska. Yes it is cold, but the Inside Passage and glacier routes are full of wildlife. You don't want to take your eyes off of what the ship is passing for a minute.

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