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Princess Tours held its second annual CRUISE awards last week honoring members of the onshore tour industry.
This year top honors for shore excursions went to Temsco's Mendenhall Glacier Helicopter Tour and Allen Marine Tours' Juneau Wildlife Quest.
As for tour guide of the season, passengers picked Renee Weber of Allen Marine Tours, Kirk "Ziggy" Ziegenfuss of AJ Mine/Gastineau Mill Enterprises and Del Cummings of Gastineau Guiding Co.
Winners received a plaque, $100 and a complimentary lunch on a Princess cruise ship.
The awards are part of the CRUISE program which is a customer service based initiative. They are awarded based on input and nominations from cruise ship passengers, said Kirby Day, director of Alaska shore operations for Princess.
CRUISE stands for Courtesy Respect Unfailing In Service Excellence and began in 2000, Day said.
This year Day said there were 5,835 nominations with the top two tour groups receiving 95 percent of the passengers' votes.
"Nominations have increased three-fold in 2001 over last year," he said. "We are very pleased that our tour operators and tour guides have taken this program to a new level. They strive to provide the best possible experience on shore for our passengers, in a manner that is sensitive to the environment and local community issues."
Cummings addressed this issue as he accepted his award. He said tour guides face a delicate balancing act at as they deal with a local or national tragedy, such as last week's bombing, while trying to foster a fun environment on a tour. He said it is every tour guide's responsibility to go on with the tour.
"There is a lot of beauty in the world despite what we've seen," he said. " We have a unique opportunity to show that to people. I think we are doing a very good thing."
Melanie Plenda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.