Alaska Cruise Leader Warms Up for Winter with Tropical Itineraries

SEATTLE, November 26, 2007 – Cruise West, long known for its leadership in Alaska cruising, is trading glaciers and brown bears for exotic birds, pearls, and snorkeling this winter in multiple, sun-soaked itineraries.

The company that was founded by the late Chuck West, an adventuresome Alaska bush pilot, is taking its distinctive brand of up-close, casual and personal experiential cruising that has become well known in Alaska, and sailing south for the winter with itineraries that allow guests to bask in the warmth of the pristine South Pacific, explore the rich marine life and history in Mexico’s Sea of Cortés or take in the prolific wildlife and beaches of Panama & Costa Rica. All cruises offer onboard naturalists and topical expert lecturers to bring each distinct destination to life.

2008 South Pacific Itineraries Onboard The Luxury Flagship Spirit of Oceanus~

The precious gems of Polynesia and Melanesia are explored on Cruise West’s aptly named Pearls of Polynesia itinerary. This 12-night sailing between Fiji and Papeete visits Beqa, Fiji, to watch a traditional firewalking ceremony; the Cook Islands including Atiu, “The Land of the Birds,” which rarely receives visits from tourists; and Tonga to meet with local villagers, participate in a kava ceremony and snorkel in the pristine waters. Pearls of Polynesia departs on January 23 and February 26, 2008. Standard pricing starts at $5,849 per person, based on double occupancy.

The 11-night Island Sanctuaries itinerary, which visits the remote oases of French Polynesia, was designed with nature lovers in mind. On this round trip journey from Papeete, guests will snorkel in Rangiroa, the second largest atoll in the world; visit a pearl farm in Takapoto; and travel through the Marquesas Islands to meet villagers and explore the plush terrain. This itinerary sails on February 2 and 12, 2008. Standard pricing starts at $4,549 per person, based on double occupancy. A post-cruise extension to remote Easter Island is available on February 2nd departure only.

The 16-night Legends of the Pacific sailing explores the islands of Micronesia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, traveling between Guam and Fiji. The Spirit of Oceanus will bring guests to areas seldom visited by other travelers, on an insider’s expedition to native villages, World War II sites and tiny islands. Highlights include snorkeling at Tonoas Island, the center for the Japanese Navy during WWII; meeting native villagers throughout the islands and enjoying performances of their traditional dance and song; and visiting the tropical forest of Pohnpei Island which is home to 40 species of birds, reptiles and deer. This itinerary will sail on January 7 and March 11, 2008. Standard pricing starts at $6,799 per person, based on double occupancy.

Upgraded Spirit of Yorktown Explores the Waters of Mexico~

A seven-night Sea of Cortés Whales & Wildlife cruise is offered December 22 through March 1, 2008, onboard the newly upgraded 138-guest Spirit of Yorktown. The itinerary is designed to allow guests to become intimately acquainted with Mexico’s family-friendly culture through enriching interaction with local residents. Onboard kayaks help provide an up-close experience with the region’s prolific sea and bird life. All cruises sail round trip from Cabo San Lucas and include the picturesque seaside village and mission town of Loreto, and Isla Espiritú Santo, home to several plant and animal species only found on this island. Active guests will enjoy kayaking, snorkeling and nature walks at the serene islands Los Islotes and Isla Partida. Guests may also add-on a spectacular four-night Copper Canyon post-cruise land tour. Prices start at $2,399, based on double occupancy.

~Prolific Wildlife, Two Warm Seas and One Grand Canal in Central America~

Guests can feel the heat in Panama & Costa Rica on the nine-night Between Two Seas itinerary. This cruise offers activities galore including guided nature walks, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and dancing with the indigenous people of the Emberá Village in the remote Darién Jungle. This cruise traverses the Panama Canal and includes the San Blas Islands and a Kuna Indian Village, Portobelo, the remote Emberá Village in the Darién Jungle, Coiba National Park, Golfo Dulce, Caletas Beach and Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its prolific wildlife and bird viewing. This cruise is offered December 18 through April 13, 2008. Prices start at $3,799, based on double occupancy.

Cruise West’s up-close, casual and personal style of small-ship cruising provides the opportunity to explore remote ports and islands that larger ships cannot access, and to leave each destination with only footprints behind. For more information or to book a cruise, call 1-800-296-8307 or visit

~ Up-Close, Casual and Personal Cruising ~

Cruise West offers the opportunity to explore remote and distinctive destinations throughout North and Central America, Asia and the South Pacific. Small-ship cruising allows for personalized experiences not offered by larger cruise lines. Guest capacities aboard Cruise West’s nine ships range from 78-138. Guests may expect personal enrichment through onboard narrative and presentations by local experts. The ships’ forward lounges and ample outdoor deck space provide outstanding viewing opportunities, and inflatable boats allow for up-close exploration and shore landings.

Cruise West – a second-generation, family-owned business based in Seattle – offers the opportunity to explore remote, worldwide locales by providing distinctive, one-of-a-kind, personalized itineraries not offered by the traditional larger cruise lines. Cruise West’s smaller ships – ten in all – hold between 70-138 people each, and the casual style onboard encourages relaxation and congenial interaction between guests and crew alike. The experience is personally enriching through expert Exploration Leaders providing onboard narrative and lectures, special local guests from a wide variety of backgrounds, and the library provided on each vessel. All have forward lounges and ample outdoor deck space for viewing and photographing wildlife and scenery. All vessels are also equipped with inflatable landing boats for close-up exploration of remote areas and shore landings.

Destinations served include: Alaska and the Bering Sea, British Columbia, Columbia & Snake Rivers, California Wine Country, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Costa Rica & Panama, The U.S. eastern seaboard, the Caribbean, Japan, the South Pacific, the Kuril Islands, and the Great Lakes