Tickets cost almost $7,000 for that Puget Sound cruise. What do you get for your money?

Eleven days, two countries, nine ports spanning Puget Sound — including Tacoma and Olympia.

Total cost: Nearly $14,000 per couple.

The ship that will take you there? The American Constellation, here in Tacoma for routine maintenance after traversing the Panama Canal.

The Constellation will start shorter, eight-day cruises through the San Juan Islands in March, with tulip-themed cruises embarking in April for Skagit County’s famed Tulip Festival. This lower-priced trip starts at $4,415 per person.

In June, the ship moves to Alaska for the summer, returning to the Evergreen state this fall for its 11-day Grand Puget Sound tours. Travelers will disembark in Tacoma at the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum dock, and in Olympia at the Port of Olympia recreational dock. Other stops include Anacortes, Port Townsend and Victoria, B.C.

Olympia and Tacoma are the second and third days of the trip, according to the website, which says Olympia “… has an eclectic mix of historic and modern architecture.” The cruise line touts Tacoma’s Museum District with “six world-class museums all within walking distance from each other.”

It’s not difficult to find a multiday African safari or European vacations for these prices, or a cruise to a warmer locale for a fraction of the price.

American Cruise Lines spokeswoman Alexa Paolella said the ships typically hold 100 to 200 passengers, small for the cruising industry. As such, guests will get a more personal experience — and they are willing to pay for it.

“Many of our guests enjoy travel closer to home and in visiting the cities they have heard of throughout their lives but never really visited or explored,” she wrote in an email. “We have on-board historians, experts and guest speakers who cruise with our guests and bring the different itineraries to life.”

The company’s shallow-draft ships, including the Constellation, can nudge closer to shore than ships built for ocean voyages, giving guests a better view of the scenery, she said.

Source: www.theolympian.com

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