Snorkeling in Alaska? 2008 Alaska cruise season full of surprises

Travelers aboard cruise ships visiting Alaska this year can experience more than just glacier tours, whale watching, dog sledding and other traditional port excursions. The cruise lines are offering a variety of unique ways to explore the magnificent landscape of the 49th state, including underwater snorkeling and high in the air via zip lines. Holland America and Royal Caribbean, for example, invites guests in Sitka, Ketchikan and other locales to don wetsuits and explore the usually unseen underwater wilderness with snorkeling gear. Princess, Regent Seven Seas and Celebrity offer special Alpine zip line and Alaskan rainforest eco-tours high above the ground. Other excursion highlights include Regent’s “Advanced Volcano Hike” on the remote Kruzof Island, Princess’ Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s tour and Norwegian Cruise Line’s gold mining excursion.

Disney takes “Toy Story” from big screen to high seas

Buzz Lightyear, Woody and friends from the beloved Disney Toy Story movie are taking their adventures to the seas in a new musical production aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship. This is the first time the popular Disney-Pixar big screen classic has been adapted for the stage. Preserving the humor and heart of the original film, Toy Story-The Musical explores the true meaning of friendship as Buzz Lightyear and Woody transform from jealous adversaries to best friends with an unbreakable bond. The show’s elaborate costumes capture the vibrant colors and playfulness of the animated characters. Guests of all ages will delight in an original collection of show tunes that retell the story in a fun and energizing way during their cruise vacation.

Smoke out on Celebrity ships starts this fall

Starting October 1 2008, Celebrity Cruises will begin enforcing a new policy that promised to provide a breath of fresh air on its voyages. In addition to banning smoking in staterooms and verandas, the new rules will reduce the number of public areas available for guests to smoke onboard. Celebrity expects the new policy to be welcomed, considering surveys indicate 90 percent of its guests are non-smokers. Designated indoor areas where guests can smoke cigarettes under the new policy include portions of one lounge per ship and a slot machine area in each boat’s casino. Outdoor smoking is allowed in select areas on pool decks and sundecks, as well as one outdoor bar on each vessel. Violations to Celebrity’s new smoking policy may result in a $250 cleaning fee charged to the guest’s onboard account and may also be addressed through the line’s guest conduct policy.

New Carnival Splendor built to entertain kids of all ages

Oh, what we would all give to be young again. Living up to its reputation, Carnival has taken the idea of having fun to a new level for kids of all ages on the new 113,000-ton, 3,000-passenger Carnival Splendor, set to debut this summer. The cruise ship features supervised youth programs and activities for specific age groups – Camp Carnival (ages 2-11), Circle C (ages 12-14) and Club O2 (ages 15-17), plus a massive 5,500 square-foot children’s play area divided into separate sections and featuring toys, games, computers, gaming consoles, plasma televisions and a dance floor. If that is not enough, one deck above will be a children’s water park with various water toys and attractions. The water park complements the Fun Ship’s four swimming pools and Carnival’s signature 214-foot long Twister waterslide. At mealtime, kids can order off of special children’s menus in the main dining rooms, enjoy 24-hour pizza and ice cream at the poolside restaurant and eat with the youth staff each day. The children’s turn-down service features fresh baked cookies at bedtime. In addition, Carnival’s popular Fountain Fun Card provided unlimited soft drinks for a special one-time fee.