It’s been nearly a month since the official 50th birthday for Alaska, which became a state on Jan. 3, 1959. But opportunities to visit will be ever more appealing in the warmer seasons. Cruise West, one of the world’s leading providers of small-ship specialty cruises and the largest American-owned cruise line, is celebrating Alaska’s golden anniversary with 89 cruises offering 10 itineraries. Cruise West ships top out at 138 guests, allowing what it calls more up-close, casual, and personal cruising than larger ships can offer. There must be something to their claim, since it was named the top small-ship cruise line for the fourth straight year in Recommend magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards. Some of the itineraries will feature guests such as Vic Fischer and Jack Coghill, signers of the statehood document; Tony Knowles, a former governor; Iditarod sled-dog race champion Dick Mackey, and a selection of Alaskan entertainers. The food options will draw on the bounty of Alaska, with breakfasts featuring birch tree syrup (who knew?), preserves made from local berries, and locally roasted coffees, and dinners offering salmon, black cod, halibut and crab. The 10 itineraries run from four to 25 days and offer options to emphasize time at sea, land exploration, or learning about indigenous cultures. Early booking discounts are available through Feb. 27, and anyone celebrating their own 50th birthday or wedding anniversary is eligible for an additional credit of $50. Go here or call 800-296-8307 for more information.