If you’re looking for a new and exciting destination which will keep your participants motivated, amply reward your winners for their efforts and looking to avoid the risks of hurricanes and some of the negative perceptions of Mexico then an Alaska Cruise is it.
Unlike most destinations in Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean an estimated 87% of incentive winners have never been to Alaska. Known as the “Last Frontier” an Alaska Cruise offers one of the best travel experiences in the industry and in my humble opinion, it certainly qualifies as one of those bucket list destinations. Its reputation proceeds itself and it you talk to anyone who has been on an Alaska Cruise the answer is always the same – It’s awesome!!
It’s easy. Our recommendation is the North bound Vancouver – Seward (Anchorage) cruise with at least a one day pre-extension night in Vancouver. With great lift from most US gateways your guests will enjoy this amazing city and an early arrival will ensure your winners don’t miss the ship. We’ve used the Pan Pacific and Fairmont Waterfront hotels, both located at the Cruise Ship terminal in the heart of Vancouver. These hotels have it wired and make it easy for guests to get through customs and on board without touching their luggage. The dine around options in Vancouver are great and there’s several good venues within walking distance for a welcome group dinner or reception.
Open your mind. Many planners are averse to cruise ships for a number of reasons. Having operated several Alaska cruise programs most cruise lines have gotten really good at catering to incentive groups.
First, there’s plenty of on board venues and specialty restaurants you can use exclusively for your group’s welcome reception, meetings, on board dine arounds and final night pre-dinner reception. For example, RCCL’s Radiance of the Seas offers a 16 seat Chef’s Table with great food and wine pairings by their on-board sommelier. We easily rotated all the guests through these specialty restaurants every night of the program. Guests who were not in the specialty restaurants had an entire section of the main dining salon to themselves which gave a semi private feel to the cruise dining experience.
Pre-dinner bar take over. We found that there is strength in numbers as we essentially took over the Schooner bar for pre-dinner cocktails every night. We used our mobile app to communicate the location for our nightly cocktail hour amongst other things. The service was great but let’s just say it helps to grease the skids to ensure your group gets preferential treatment.
On board entertainment was fine and most guests enjoyed the main shows. The late-night revelers took over the Starquest lounge and disco every night to enjoy the setting sun at 11pm as well as dance to the DJ who was very accommodating with all song requests.
There’s always something to do as most ships offer a plethora of on board activities including a fitness center, spa, entertainment, casino, shopping, lectures, and smaller bars to keep everyone happy.
The real draw to Alaska, however, are the shore excursions.
Do you like king crab? Take a float plane to the George Inlet lodge just outside of Ketchikan where you’ll feast on fresh king crab accompanied with that tasty Alaskan Summer ale beer. It doesn’t get any better.
Feeling adventurous? Take off from Skagway on a helicopter tour to Denver glacier where you’ll be greeted by a real life Alaskan dog sled musher and his team of eager dogs ready to take you on a dog sled tour on top of one of the largest glaciers in Alaska. Don’t forget to stop by the puppy kennel where you can pet and hold one of the future lead sled dogs. So cute!!
Have you ever soared like an Eagle? We’ll now you can in Hoonah by taking one of the longest ziplines in the world. Hang on to your hats as you’ll drop more than 1200 feet at over 60 miles an hour!!
And speaking of eagles – there’s hundreds of them. There’s no destination that offers better wildlife viewing than Alaska. In addition to eagles you’ll see bears, all kinds of whales including Orcas, moose, reindeer, bison and sheep just to name a few. Totally unspoiled.
Ready to celebrate another amazing day in Alaska? Head to the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau serving the world famous “Duck Fart” shots. Just in case you’re wondering a Duck Fart is a layered shot with Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream and whiskey. It’s really good but don’t have more than 2.
Want to give back? We organized a CSR event in Hoonah by giving a large donation and lunch to the local Boys and Girls Club. The local Tlinget Tribe performed an authentic tribal dance for our group during lunch.
Other tours include glacier hiking, kayaking, whale watching, canoeing, bear watching, salmon fishing, and world class shopping and a very corny but funny lumberjack show.
On the last full day of the cruise we pulled into Hubbard Glacier Bay as guests watched this massive glacier calve for about 2 hours. Amazing!
There’s no short supply of room gift options. We issued high end binoculars at arrival and local art work and items like freshly canned Alaska salmon for nightly deliveries.
Alaska will be a big hit with any group and if you’d like more information on ship options, recommended shore excursion, group activities and budget information please feel free to contact us.
Event Connections Group