Yacht-Style Cruising for Up-Close and Personal Alaska Adventure

SEATTLE, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ — Majestic America Line, America’s largest river and coastal cruise company, today announced the addition of 20 “Spectacular Alaska” cruises aboard the Contessa in 2007. Among the latest additions to the all-American fleet of premier cruise ships, the Contessa carries just 48 guests and is a proven favorite of quality-oriented adventurers with a taste for personal yacht-style exploration.

Formerly known as the Executive Explorer, the Contessa offers seven-night “Spectacular Alaska” experiences sailing north from Ketchikan, or south from Sitka on rarely-traveled channels — a unique departure from mainstream Alaska cruising. The ship’s sleek, shallow draft allows navigation of narrow channels and fjords, accommodates intimate viewing of wildlife and glaciers, and provides access to snug anchorages and remote communities.

Guests embark right in the heart of the Inside Passage — rather than in Seattle or Vancouver, British Columbia — and are immersed in its wonder and extraordinary natural surroundings from day one of the adventure. An expert onboard naturalist and custom-designed land excursions, many included in the cruise price, enrich the Alaska travel experience and afford a deeper understanding of the region’s natural history and native cultures. The Contessa’s inaugural season will provide her discerning guests with a truly boutique cruise experience.

“Most Alaska cruise ships carry more than 2,000 people and focus as much on shipboard entertainment as they do on Alaskan wildlife and wilderness,” said David A. Giersdorf, President, Majestic America Line. “With just 24 staterooms, we concentrate on each individual guest, getting to know them by name, sharing unique, memorable experiences on a close, personal level and encouraging congenial interaction between kindred spirits. Cruising aboard this intimate vessel is like being aboard your own private yacht.”

Seven-Night “Spectacular Alaska” Cruises Reveal the Real Alaska

>From Ketchikan, the unsurpassed beauty of Misty Fjords National Monument, Behm Canal and Ernest Sound are the first indication that this itinerary is one-of-a-kind. The first evening is spent in the remote wilderness of Misty Fjords in Rudyard Bay and Punchbowl Cove. Cruising on to Wrangell, gateway to the Le Conte-Stikine Wilderness, is another rare privilege that guests will enjoy the following day.

At the foot of the Le Conte Glacier guests will embark on an exclusive wilderness adventure that is included in the cruise fare. An extraordinary experience by jet boat up the Stikine River travels through wild country that naturalist John Muir referred to as “Yosemite 100 miles long.” Optional excursions are also available, including a trip to Anan Creek, site of the largest pink salmon run in Southeast Alaska. It is one of the best places in the world to see black and brown bears “fishing” for salmon.

Transiting Wrangell Narrows, a prime feeding ground for whales, and spending an evening in stunning Le Conte Bay, where icebergs drift with the tide, reinforces the exclusive access guests aboard the Contessa enjoy. The morrow brings up-close viewing of Le Conte Glacier plus a snug anchorage in serene Thomas Bay, where the bow ramp is lowered to allow guests to disembark and hike through emerald forests and along the secluded shoreline.

Waking up to breakfast at the face of crystalline Dawes Glacier in Endicott Arm is the prelude to some of the world’s most dramatic fjord cruising. Anticipation grows as the agile Contessa maneuvers through narrow Tracy Arm to reveal the stunning North and South Sawyer Glaciers. In Juneau, the following day, guests will embark on an exclusive kayak excursion, experiencing Alaska’s marine wilderness from a completely unique and thrilling perspective. Guests also will have the luxury of time in port and can hunt for souvenirs in town or join in a number of optional excursions, including helicopter flightseeing and dog sledding on a glacier. When whales and other marine mammals are inevitably spotted in Saginaw Channel later that evening, the Captain will stop the engines and drift silently amidst the serenity and grandeur of Mother Nature.

Nature cruising in the humpback whale rich waters off Pt. Adolphus plus visits to colorful communities such as Elfin Cove, an intriguing boardwalk community on Chicagof Island and Hoonah, Alaska’s largest Tlingit settlement are among the “Captain’s Choice” for the day. Alternatively, the Contessa will feature the glorious glaciers and stunning fjords of Glacier Bay — subject to the availability of National Park Service entry permits.

Cruising remote Tenakee Inlet to Tenakee Springs allows Contessa guests to hike, soak in the hot springs or enjoy a taste of the frontier lifestyle followed by the evening’s festivities — the Captain’s Farewell Dinner. Disembarking in Sitka the following morning completes this incomparable seven- night “Spectacular Alaska” cruise.

Sailing in the opposite direction, from Sitka to Ketchikan, provides the same extraordinary wilderness scenery and intriguing port content with minor variations.

Exclusive, Intimate, Yacht-Like Ambiance

Standing four decks high and measuring 104 feet in length, the U.S. flagged Contessa is a masterpiece. Her twin-hulled design offers maximum maneuverability and stability. Staterooms are all outside facing and include two forward-facing Suites. All accommodations feature large view windows, tasteful decor and spa-quality toiletries. Deluxe amenities include a color TV and DVD player, mini-bar, individually controlled heating and air conditioning, twin beds that convert to queen size and private bathroom with shower.

Rich woods and handsome appointments make the dining room, which also features great coastal views, the ideal setting for exceptional cuisine featuring local Alaskan specialties and the attentive service of a friendly American crew. Tables are set with fresh flowers, high-quality china, crystal and flatware, and the hospitality of the captain and his officers make the evening meal a festive event.

The forward-facing Vista View Lounge frames bigger-than-life views through floor-to-ceiling windows. They provide the same great visibility the captain enjoys — allowing guests to capture every detail of the scenery, ports and wildlife. Open and protected outdoor deck space brings the surroundings even closer.

Rates for the Contessa’s 2007 season, which spans from May 13 through September 20, start at $ 2,966 per person based on double occupancy, when booked before December 15, 2006. For additional information, please call 1.800.434.1232 or see your travel agent.

About Majestic America Line

Majestic America Line, formed through the combination of American West Steamboat Company and Delta Queen Steamboat Company, is the premier river and coastal cruising company in the United States, offering uniquely American cruise itineraries that provide an extraordinary travel experience.

With a fleet of U.S.-flagged and built ships, Majestic America Line travels America’s great rivers and coastal waterways from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to the Heartland and the Lower Mississippi. The company’s specially designed ships deliver an unequalled boutique cruise experience that combines an unmatched attention to quality with deluxe comfort and warm, attentive service from an all-American crew.

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