First Copper River Salmon Arrives at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge

A buzz of excitement surrounded the kitchen of King Salmon Restaurant at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge Friday, when a helicopter carrying the season’s first catch of wild Copper River king salmon touched down right outside the lodge.

This special event helped kick off the 2015 Alaska season and guests from around the world were delighted to enjoy this local favorite, served fresh just hours after being caught.

The 2015 Copper River king salmon fishing season opened May 14 at 7 a.m. in Cordova, Alaska, and after a long day on the water fishermen could still be seen bringing in their catch late into the night.
Local processor Copper River Seafoods prepared its first shipment of fish to be flown on an Alaska Airlines jet to Anchorage, where it was loaded onboard an Era Aviation helicopter. The chopper flew to a helipad near the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, to deliver the fish to the restaurant for preparation by Chef Jeff Elliott.

“Fresh, wild seafood remains one of the top draws for Princess guests visiting Alaska and salmon is an important part of the Alaska lifestyle, both culturally and as a dietary staple,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “The opening day of the Copper River salmon season is a very exciting time for our guests staying at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge who have the opportunity to participate in a true Alaska tradition.”

A camera crew followed the fish from the moment nets pulled them up in Cordova and captured the full journey to Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, along with the salmon’s preparation at King Salmon Restaurant. To view the video, visit

The first-catch shipment of Copper River salmon is a prestigious and highly anticipated annual ritual in which Alaska Airlines flies more than 20,000 pounds of the season’s “first fish” to Seattle and Anchorage. For the last three years, the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge has received part of the catch and served fresh king salmon to lodge guests on arrival.

Copper River king salmon, identified by the meat’s deep red hue and a melt-in-your mouth texture, is a highly coveted fish by chefs and salmon lovers alike thanks to its exceptional flavor and high nutritious value. Also known as Chinook, the king salmon travel 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean along the waters of the Copper River to reach their spawning grounds near Cordova.

Princess Cruises Alaska season features seven ships offering seven-day itineraries cruising from the ports of Vancouver, Whittier and Seattle; and 10-day sailings from San Francisco. Princess offers a variety of Land and Sea Vacations that combine land travel with an Alaska cruise for a complete land and sea experience. All Land and Sea Vacations include a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers sailing with a visit to Glacier Bay National Park plus up to four nights in the Denali National Park area at Princess’ own wilderness lodges.

Voted the Best Cruise Line in Alaska seven years running by the readers of Travel Weekly, Princess Cruises is now making the top vacation experience in Alaska even better with the debut of North to Alaska! Introduced for the 2015 cruise season and created in partnership with local experts, North to Alaska! features a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them. The program includes expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans; and onboard festivals to allow guests to eat like a local, learn from the locals, and celebrate like a local.

(Princess Cruises)