Cruise

Cruises 101

by Sherri Eisenberg

Cruise West

Number of ships: 9
Ship capacity: 70 and 138 passengers
Price range: Expensive

The audience: One of the better-rated "expedition"-style lines, Cruise West primarily sails nature-focused trips to Alaska in the summer and Mexico's Baja Peninsula in the winter and spring. Guests tend to be empty nesters and baby boomers, with a sprinkling of younger couples or groups of single friends.

Strengths: Since the focus is on nature and animal viewing, experts give lectures on the environment and will also take groups out on small boats to explore the coastline—an experience you won't get on a larger ship. There are also popular fishing excursions for salmon, but no worries, the fish are not endangered.

Weaknesses: Each ship has just one dining room, and guests eat around the same time. So if you enjoy the company of your fellow passengers, dinner is a time to share stories about the day. If you don't click with the group, though, you're out of luck. Also missing are amenities such as gyms and spas.

Insider tip: While the line frequently visits Alaska's Inside Passage, guest lecturers' expertise varies widely, from nature photography to the native heritage of the area to oceanography. To get the most out of your time, choose the sailing whose theme best matches your interests.

Itineraries: Besides Baja and Alaska (where a nine-day cruise in from Ketchikan to Juneau runs $4,449 per person and up), Cruise West sails to the Panama Canal and the Fiji islands.

Cruise West
Tel: 888 851 8133

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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