Alaska Bear Viewing Doesn’t Get Anymore Intimate Than This

Caprice Stoner spends her summers in Alaska. But not just anywhere. For the past ten years she has served as hostess, manager, gatekeeper and naturalist at Great Alaska BearCamp®. A member of the Great Alaska Adventures family of lodges, this remote outpost sits at the entrance of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, some four million roadless acres bordering Cook Inlet, accessible only by Alaska bush plane or boat.

Her stories resonate with the excitement of returning year after year to this site and recognizing families of brown bear matriarchs and offspring that come to chow down during fish runs and to graze in lush salt marsh meadows that border this camp tucked into a clearing in a coastal mountain range. In 2013 Great Alaska BearCamp® hosted a crew for the filming of the nature documentary Bears, a 2014 Disney release. For more on the film please see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2458776/

Between June 1 and Sept. 1 the camp accommodates up to 16 guests at any given time who overnight here for on average one night and sometimes two, with daylight hours spent bear viewing within an hour walk of the camp that is surrounded by an electric fence. Ambling along the beach guests view one of North America’s grandest carnivores digging at low tide for clams or harvesting fish. They also see bear in surrounding sedge meadows and marshes. Guests may also see a family of foxes, mink and short-tailed weasel, an occasional moose and even wolves and whales. See: http://www.greatalaska.com/pages/bear_viewing_camp/118.php

In this perfect-for-bear, unaltered-by-man ecosystem where Great Alaska Adventures (http://www.greatalaska.com/) has had a presence for some 15 years, Stoner and her team work closely with the National Park Service on best bear viewing practices that have minimal impact on the bears and environment.

“I have a personal love for these bears. I don’t want them to be pushed away or to lose their habitat. This is a Nirvana for them. If they have enough food and feel safe they will come back to same area. They are creatures of habit,” says Stoner, who is one of the most experienced bear guides in Alaska. “How do I know these are the same bears year after year? They have markers and personalities.”

When not engaged with a guide outside the camp, guests can view bear activity from the raised platforms that secure their accommodations. Heidi Solum, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef prepares the meals; wine is served at dinner and late evenings but hard liquor is not available because Stoner wants to her guests to be alert at all times. The resident chef can accommodate most dietary issues. The camp provides a solar panel for charging batteries and CPAP machines.

After meeting guests who fly in for various multiday packages, Stoner’s job includes helping put them at ease.

“They are looking to me and crew to protect and inform them. Our do’s and don’ts during a 30-minute orientation set their minds at ease,” Stoner notes. “We live out there with bear; we sleep in tents next to bear. I am kind of a mother hen.”

Children are welcome, but Stoner hopes they will be at least five years old and can be quiet in the presence of the bears.

This is a permanent camp that allows bear to become habituated to the movements of humans while providing comfortable viewing for visitors who lodge, dine and socialize in Weatherport extreme weather cabin/tents on raised wooden deck platforms. The tents feature wooden floors, solid doors, propane heat and light, writing desks, clothes hooks and ensuite potty facilities. A community bathhouse has composting toilets and eco showers. One large tent is dedicated to cooking and community dining.

Great Alaska BearCamp® is available for one and two-night stays. It is an ideal complement to a cruise or other Alaska-based itineraries such as those offered by Great Alaska Adventures. Guests fly from Soldotna airfield in groups of four and six, landing on the shoreline right in front of the camp after a fly-by of Mount Itiamna and Kalgin Island.

Per person double rates at BearCamp® start at $1,495 per person for a one night stay or $1,995 for two night stays.

For more information on all the bear viewing programs offered by Great Alaska Adventures please call 866-411-2327, email greatalaska@GreatAlaska.com or visit: http://www.greatalaska.com/.

About Great Alaska Adventures
One particular love affair with Alaska began more than 30 years ago. Since then a venture that began as a fishing lodge has morphed into Great Alaska Adventures.  Laurence John, Principal and Founder, son Kent John, and partner Kathy Haley, an Alaska native, have grown a sport fishing enterprise into opportunities for diverse adventure travel on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, just 20 minutes by plane from Anchorage. The company is recognized as an industry leader by virtue of its world-class offerings of trips: sport fishing, bear viewing, family safaris, multi-sport adventures, eagle float trips, Kenai Fjords nature cruises, photo safaris and more.

The Future for Corporate Retreats, Bonding & Team Building?

Some of us roll our eyes at team building activities we’re asked to undertake. First, these activities take us away from our electronic devices so we feel marooned. Second, the pursuits prod us into hearty-but-forced laughter when we’d rather be scowling at a screen.

So, aside from the tried and true ropes course that bonds us more with our adrenalin than with our peers, where can diverse personalities and pay grades comfortably mix it up for hours on end without it being such an unpleasant ordeal?

How about behind the handlebars of a mountain bike!

Steve Mokan, founder of Chasing Epic (http://chasingepicmtb.com/), a new mountain bike adventure travel company, suggests that three-and four-day mountain bike outings over long weekends that mix up riding, hiking and team building surrounded by beautiful scenery is the new way to go.

Trips can be catered to beginners and experienced riders alike who when concentrating on managing the terrain can be off in their own private worlds, coming back to reality over a glass of wine or beer in the evening. Bringing sweat equity to the table often accompanies team building, and that’s true after a day on single track when particular curves and boulders and descents get chatted up.

“Sometimes achievable challenges and a little suffering bring out the best in all of us!” says Mokan. “Achievable challenges when conquered together brings with it lasting bonds of respect and friendship.”

Strategically, Chasing Epic’s trips don’t force out the inner cave man around a tented campsite. Instead comfortable lodging accommodations are selected to represent the character of the location being explored and also for the comfort, privacy and intimacy they provide.

Chasing Epic offers seven mountain biking meccas in the Rockies. All-inclusive long weekends can be customized to achieve desired team-building results. Mokan also recommends these programs for management retreats. All of the itineraries utilize lesser-known trails in up-and-coming destinations in Crested Butte, Durango, Fruita and Telluride, CO; Sedona, AZ; and Park City and St. George, UT.

Chasing Epic trips are all-inclusive and rates include accommodations, hearty meals, high-end demo bikes (an all-carbon demo bike fleet includes Ibis Mojo HD3s, Ibis Ripley LS 29ers, and Niner Jet 9 29ers), local guides conversant with the terrain, customized eight-week pre-trip training programs, best-in-class ride nutrition, shuttles and lift tickets, gratuities and a dedicated on-site trip leader to help control gear mashers.

Private custom group trips begin at $1,050 per person, double for a three day outing and $1,350 per person, double for a four day trip with a minimum of six participants.

On the premise that “the less you suffer on the climbs, the more you’ll enjoy the descents,” Mokan has engaged coaching platform companies Training Peaks and Through the Wall Training to customize individualized training programs (valued at up to $400) for eight weeks prior to departure.

He emphasizes that custom trips can be designed to a specific group’s abilities and desires. “At Chasing Epic, we pride ourselves on putting together itineraries of only the best trail systems in each location. You’ll be on uncrowded singletrack from start to finish.”

For reservations and information please visit http://chasingepicmtb.com/ or email steve@chasingepicmtb.com or phone 303.949.3933.

About Chasing Epic
Chasing Epic is a new adventure travel company (founded in 2016) that aims to raise the bar and set new standards in the mountain bike community. The focus is on offering experienced intermediate to advanced-level mountain bikers fully all-inclusive, locally guided mountain bike trips where everybody wants to ride — the Western US – and when everybody has time – over long weekends. Guests just need to be fit and pack a helmet, shoes and appetite for epic single track action.  Each tour includes lodging, meals, high-end bikes, local guides, customized eight-week training programs, best-in-class ride nutrition, shuttles, lift tickets, gratuities and a dedicated on-site trip leader.

New from the Bike/Raft Experts – Moab Multisport Four Day Escape

 It was 1966 when, out of a love for wilderness, high adventure and the rush that comes from running whitewater, Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/) first began guiding people down the Colorado and Green Rivers in inflatable, muscle-powered rafts. This was more than a decade before another now-popular adventure conveyance, the mountain bike, was even invented. It didn’t take long for Holiday to recognize that the two meshed perfectly together and in the early 1990’s the multi-sport trip concept combining white water rafting and mountain biking was born.

Holiday River Expeditions continues to put its stamp on iconic adventures in 2016 by creating the ultimate Moab-based combo; two days of epic single and double track mountain biking with two days of world-class whitewater rafting through Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River. Holiday’s Moab Sampler / Bike Raft Hike is a four-day escape available in June and in late August/September. Per person rates start at $800 depending on the size of a pre-arranged group, or $905 if wanting to join a pre-set departure. Group size is kept to just 12 participates with a minimum age of 12. See: http://www.bikeraft.com/multi-sport-combination/moab-sampler-bike-raft-hike/

Mountain biking and Moab are nearly synonymous. This former uranium boom town is a mecca for bikers wanting to swoop, soar, climb and roll over the region’s sinuous sandstone and wild desert trails. Rides on single and double track with a professional guide over two days will be tailored to individual interests and skill levels. Whether it’s slaloming downhill past the Gemini Bridges, pedaling between dinosaur footprints at Klondike Bluffs, or exploring sections of the famous Kokopelli Trail, participants may expect a variety of daily options with just the right amount of challenge.

After getting their fill of rock hopping and slick rock descents, guests spend two days on the river, splashing through class III & IV rapids, including Skull, the narrowest section on this stretch of the Colorado. While floating beneath the sheer black walls of Westwater Canyon there’s ample time to kick back and relax. Those who aren’t too tuckered out may also opt to hike the side canyons in search of Native American cultural sites.

Holiday River Expeditions uses 18-foot oar rafts, inflatable kayaks, standup paddleboards and full suspension Camber Comp 29ers by Specialized, a leader in the mountain bike industry. Guests are invited to use the company’s camping gear or bring their own. Late model air-conditioned passenger and four-wheel drive vans transport guests to and from trailheads and river access ramps in comfort. Holiday-designed water tanks ensure that guests have enough clean water for drinking, “solar showers” and then some. Trained guides are in charge of all meal preparations.

In addition to Holiday’s new Moab Sampler the company offers these tried-and-true multi-sport bike and raft trip combinations:

  • White Rim / Cataract Canyon offering three days of biking Canyonlands National Park’s iconic White Rim Trail with rafting Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River.  The seven-day trips are available in May and September, minimum age 12. Rates start at $1,340 per person.
  • Yampa Bench / Yampa River explores in part Dinosaur National Park over two days of biking and five days of rafting. Seven-day departures are June 6, 13 and 20 from $1,235 per person, minimum age 12.
  • Moab / Westwater explores the La Sal Mountains and Colorado River for two days on bikes and two days on rafts beginning on Saturdays in July and August. The per person rate for four days starts at $800, minimum age 12.

For more details on all of these bike/raft combo trips please see: http://www.bikeraft.com/multi-sp*ort-combination/

Note on prices: stated rates may or may not include BLM use fees (check the website for full details).

About Holiday River Expeditions
Holiday River Expeditions began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters. Due to its respect for the lands, rivers, guests and employees, the family-owned-and-operated company has grown steadily. Each of its guides is professionally trained in first aid and river safety, and with over 50 years of experience, the company provides guests the opportunity to explore the nation’s wild lands safely and securely. Holiday River Expeditions has a philosophy to protect the environment through education and conservation, and as such, uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

For more information, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2016 catalog please call 800-624-6323, Email: Holiday@BikeRaft.com or log onto: http://www.bikeraft.com/.

World Champion Skier to Lead Women-Only Mountain Bike Tour in Utah

One of many things that sets trailblazing mountain bike company Chasing Epic apart from the crowd are trip leaders chosen from the best racers, riders and overall outdoor athletes in the United States to show mountain bike guests the best trails in the West.

Chasing Epic (http://chasingepicmtb.com/) is proud to welcome Jen Hudak, a former two-time World Champion and five-time X-Games medalist skier as a new trip leader for a Sept. 16-19, 2016, Women Only 4-day trip in Park City, UT.

Now retired from skiing, Jen has transitioned into competitive mountain biking, already placing on the podium in such prestigious events like the Downieville Classic, Scott Enduro Cup, and the Sundance Utah Downhill Series. She is also racing competitively on the 2016 North American Enduro Tour.

When not sharing her passion for the mountains with others through coaching, organizing group rides and writing on her blog, http://jenhudak.com/, she works in marketing in Park City and mentors young girls’ mountain biking through the Little Bellas program. She has also coached multiple women-only camps over the last several years.

Chasing Epic, the company that is changing how vacationing mountain bikers experience the best trails in the Western US, thinks it’s high time for women to have their own dedicated weekend mountain bike adventures.

Chasing Epic invites intermediate and experienced female riders to share the fun on three remaining dedicated, all-inclusive, all-women weekends. In addition to the September program in Utah which Jen will be leading, the others include an outing in Fruita Oct. 21-23 and Crested Butte, CO on Aug. 12-15. Female participants just need to be reasonably experienced and pack a helmet, shoes and appetite for epic single track adventure. See: http://chasingepicmtb.com/women-only/

“Chasing Epic is excited to offer multiple Women-Only trips throughout the year that are led by women, for women. We work with an elite roster of accomplished, fun-loving and inspiring female guides to bring you a long weekend of instruction and classic mountain biking,” said Steve Mokan, the company’s founder and owner. He is a long-time Colorado mountain biker and a veteran of the adventure sports world. “We’ll be riding some of the most incredible trails, both known and off the radar in these two iconic destinations.”

He suggests that three-and four-day mountain bike outings over long weekends that mix up riding, hiking and team building surrounded by beautiful scenery are the new way to ride and vacation at the same time.

Strategically, Chasing Epic’s trips don’t force out the inner cave girl around a tented campsite. Instead comfortable lodging accommodations are selected to represent the character of the location being explored and also for the comfort, privacy and intimacy they provide.

Chasing Epic trips are all-inclusive and rates include accommodations, hearty meals, high-end demo bikes (an all-carbon demo bike fleet includes Ibis Mojo HD3s, Ibis Ripley LS 29ers, and Niner Jet 9 29ers), local guides conversant with the terrain, customized eight-week pre-trip training programs, best-in-class ride nutrition, shuttles and lift tickets, gratuities and a dedicated on-site trip leader to help control gear mashers.

Women’s only trips begin at $1,250 per person double for a four-day outing and $950 per person double for a three day trip.

On the premise that “the less you suffer on the climbs, the more you’ll enjoy the descents,” Mokan has engaged coaching platform companies Training Peaks and Through the Wall Training to customize individualized training programs (valued at up to $400) for eight weeks prior to departure.

He emphasizes that custom trips can be designed to a specific group’s abilities and desires. “At Chasing Epic, we pride ourselves on putting together itineraries of only the best trail systems in each location. You’ll be on uncrowded singletrack from start to finish.”

For reservations and information please visit http://chasingepicmtb.com/ or email steve@chasingepicmtb.com or phone 303.949.3933.

About Chasing Epic
Chasing Epic is a new adventure travel company (founded in 2016) that aims to raise the bar and set new standards in the mountain bike community. The focus is on offering experienced intermediate to advanced-level mountain bikers fully all-inclusive, locally guided mountain bike trips where everybody wants to ride — the Western US – and when everybody has time – over long weekends. Guests just need to be fit and pack a helmet, shoes and appetite for epic single track action.  Each tour includes lodging, meals, high-end bikes, local guides, customized eight-week training programs, best-in-class ride nutrition, shuttles, lift tickets, gratuities and a dedicated on-site trip leader.

Boomers are Seeking Adventure! Incentives Offered on 5 Bucket List Raft Trips

The studies confirm it. Retiring Baby Boomers are seeking adventure like never before. They want a life filled with multiple “peak” experiences that leave cherished memories. And the result will be an economic windfall for those companies prepared to accommodate the new senior traveler.

Case in point, the 2016 Age Wave/Merrill Lynch, “Leisure in Retirement: Beyond the Bucket List” study predicts that annual spending on leisure travel by Boomers age 65+ will grow 47% between now and 2035. Currently, Boomers spend $157 billion on trips every year.

One active travel company has taken note of this trend and has embraced active senior travelers whose bucket list includes a journey down a western river. From July through the end of the 2016 season, Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/) is offering all those age 65 and above an additional $100 off per person on already discounted senior rates on whitewater rafting trips in Utah and Idaho.

“We hear ‘bucket list’ referred to over and over again when talking to prospective guests. Now we’re offering an incentive to hopefully inspire our senior travelers to get out there and just do it,” said Karen Johnson, Holiday travel advisor of 25+ years. “Lately we have had groups of retired friends traveling together, grandparents bringing adult children and grandchildren and even the solo senior guest.  Our first White Rim bike trip this summer had no one in the group under the age of 67.”

Selecting those trips that most appeal to the Boomer crowd (fun and challenging but not too advanced) Holiday River Expeditions is offering their senior incentive on these summer river trips in Utah and Idaho for 2016:

Utah: Green River, Desolation Canyon – Six Day Trip Departures: July 18; Aug. 8, 15; Adult rate: $1175, Youth rate (age 5-18): $975, Senior rate (65+): $1080 before the $100 discount. See: http://www.bikeraft.com/utah-river-rafting/desolation-canyon/.

Utah: Green River, Lodore Canyon – Four Day Trip Departures: July 7, 15, 21, 26, 28, Aug. 4, 5, 11, 23, 25, 30; Sept. 2; Adult rate: $935, Youth rate (age 8-18): $815, Senior rate (65+): $815 before the $100 discount. See: http://www.bikeraft.com/colorado-river-rafting/lodore-canyon/.

Utah: Colorado River; Cataract Canyon – Six Day Trip Departures: July 11, 18, 25; Aug. 1, 8, Sept. 4, 18, 26 (8 Day Trip also available – please call). Adult rate: $1175, Youth rate (age 8-18): $1025, Senior rate (65+): $1025 before the $100 discount. See: http://www.bikeraft.com/utah-river-rafting/cataract-canyon/.

Utah: Colorado River; Westwater Canyon – Two and Three Day Trips departing multiple times each week from July 1 through Oct. 1.  Adult rate: $465/$610, Youth rate (age 8-18): $425/$560, Senior rate (65+): $425/$560 before the $100 discount. See: http://www.bikeraft.com/colorado-river-rafting/westwater-canyon/

Idaho: Main Salmon River – Five and Six Day Departures: July 24 (5-day), Aug. 17 (5 day) and Sept. 2 (6 day). Adult rate: $1400/$1485, Youth rate (age 8-18): $1260/$1340, Senior rate (65+): $1260/$1340 before the $100 discount. See: http://www.bikeraft.com/idaho-river-rafting/main-salmon-river/

Holiday guest Lois Klinck (age 80) who rafted Westwater Canyon with Holiday along with her late husband Richard (age 84) had this to say about their “peak” experience, “We’ve been rafting together for 30 years. We’ve gotten old doing these rivers. We’re not intimidated being outdoors—we’re respectful of the river but we don’t fear it. I tell people to expect a once-in-a-lifetime moment on a river trip.” http://d.adroll.com/cm/w/out

Trip alumni Carol McWilliam (76) and her husband, James (80), rafted Desolation Canyon at these ages. Carol offers this insight:” Physically, I find subways in New York City more challenging than Holiday’s river trips. These river trips are geared for all levels and the guides know how to accommodate the amount of effort you want to or can put into being on the river. For example, they can help you pitch your tent, your camp site can be the one nearest the raft and kitchen, and they can help you get in and out of the raft. If you’ve ever done camping on your own, this is easier—you’re sitting in chairs around a campfire while the guides cook for you!”

Johnson likes to recount that the late Dee Holladay who founded Holiday River Expeditions 50 years ago was in his mid-70s when he ran a record high water trip on the Yampa River. The only requirements for anyone thinking of a rafting trip are to be adventurous and in good physical health.

Holiday River Expeditions uses sturdy, human-powered oar rafts, paddle boats, inflatable kayaks and standup paddleboards along with all the required safety gear, backed by one of the best trained crew of guides in the business. Guests are invited to rent the company’s camping gear or bring their own. Holiday-designed water tanks ensure that guests have enough clean water for drinking, “solar showers” and then some. Guides who turn into accomplished campfire chefs handle all meal preparations.

For more information, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2016 catalog please call 800-624-6323, Email: Holiday@BikeRaft.com or log onto: http://www.bikeraft.com/.

Note on prices: stated rates may or may not include BLM use fees (check the website for full details).

About Holiday River Expeditions
Holiday River Expeditions began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters. Due to its respect for the lands, rivers, guests and employees, the family-owned-and-operated company has grown steadily. Each of its guides is professionally trained in first aid and river safety, and with over 50 years of experience, the company provides guests the opportunity to explore the nation’s wild lands safely and securely. Holiday River Expeditions has a philosophy to protect the environment through education and conservation, and as such, uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

Holland America Line Celebrates Grand Opening of Denali Square Complex in Alaska with $20,000 Donation to Local School District

Guests on Holland America Line’s award-winning Alaska Land+Sea Journeys can now experience new dining, entertainment and amenities at the Denali Square complex located in the heart of the company’s McKinley Chalet Resort at the gates of Denali National Park. To celebrate today’s grand opening, Holland America Line presented the Denali Borough School District with a $20,000 check that will be spent on modernizing interactive classroom technology.

Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford welcomed attendees to Denali Square and unveiled the geomarker that was installed to commemorate the opening of the facility. Special guests included U.S. Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski; Superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve Don Striker; Denali Borough School District Superintendent Dan Polta; and Ken Karstens, grandson of Harry Karstens, first superintendent of Denali National Park and namesake of the new Denali Square restaurant, Karstens Public House. Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald and Holland America Group Chief Executive Officer Stein Kruse also attended.

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“For nearly 70 years Holland America Line has been at the forefront of Alaska exploration, and the opening of Denali Square is another exciting moment in our company’s history because it elevates the way our guests will experience Denali and Alaska,” said Ashford. “A complex like Denali Square is unrivaled in our industry, and it brings more facets of the region to our guests by showcasing local cuisine, art, entertainment and so much more. Denali National Park has been and will continue to be the centerpiece of our incredible Land+Sea Journeys.”

A highlight of the ceremony was a performance by the local Tri-Valley High School choir from Healy, Alaska. Husky dogs from the National Parks Service at Denali National Park were also at the event with handlers for guests to learn more about and enjoy.

Over the past three years Holland America Line has been refining the guest experience at the 60-acre McKinley Chalet Resort, and last year an enhanced property layout and freshly remodeled guest rooms were unveiled. Holland America Line’s Land+Sea Journeys feature up to three nights at Denali, with an included Tundra Wilderness Tour deep into the Park for all multiple night guests.

Alaska-based companies heading up the McKinley Chalet Resort’s enhancement project include general contractor Dawson Construction and Stantec, which is providing engineering services. Additional firms involved are lead and landscape architect The Portico Group, restaurant architect Heliotrope Architects, structural engineering company Michael Leonard Associates and project manager Costigan Integrated, all of Seattle, Wash.

Holland America Line’s 45-Foot Ship Float ‘Cruises’ Through Downtown Seattle During Alaska Airlines Seafair Torchlight Parade

On Saturday, July 30, 2016, spectators at the Alaska Airlines Seafair Torchlight Parade in downtown Seattle watched Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam cruising down the street. The unusual sight was a replica helium balloon of the ship, which was among more than 100 floats taking part in this annual event.

At 45 feet long and 11 feet tall, the detailed float required 30 employees to guide it carefully through the streets of Seattle on the 2.5-mile route. In addition to the float, Seattle’s Hometown Cruise Line was a presenting sponsor of the parade, with participating employees carrying a banner boasting the company’s hometown pride and proudly wearing shirts that read “Anchored in Seattle.”

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Holland America Line has been a sponsor and participant of the annual Seafair Torchlight Parade for many years, and employees previously carried an orca-whale balloon to highlight cruises to Alaska. This year’s cruise ship balloon was recently commissioned for the company to highlight its newest ship Koningsdam, launched in April, and to represent all the ships in the fleet, including the three sailing weekly from Seattle this summer.

For more information about Holland America Line, consult a travel professional, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.