Vacationers’ interest in small ship cruising in Alaska is “off the charts,” according to an operator that specializes in this niche, which offers close-up viewing of scenery and wildlife.
“Demand for our small ship cruises and land packages in Alaska increased an unprecedented 30 percent in 2015 over the previous year,” says Todd Smith, founder and president of AdventureSmith Explorations. “And the trend continues with advanced bookings for 2016 cruises the strongest they’ve ever been at this point in the preseason,” he adds.
For 2016, Smith’s company unveiled an expanded portfolio of new itineraries and new small ships and yachts available in Alaska waters. Check out these options:
Exploring Muir’s Wilderness aboard the 84-guest Safari Endeavor over eight days visits sights that inspired Scottish naturalist and preservationist John Muir including some of the richest whale waters in Southeast Alaska, Icy Strait. Guests venture into Glacier Bay National Park and Port Houghton, synonymous with the ultimate in Alaskan wilderness where sightings of blue heron, bald eagles, harbor seals, oystercatchers or black bear are the norm. The per person, double rate is from $4,695. Home base is Juneau.
Yachter’s Alaskan Frontier focuses on active luxury with upscale yacht accommodations and services. Guests spend eight days aboard the 22-guest Safari Quest getting nose to nose with iceberg-rich Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier, in addition to kayaking and hiking in the remote, rugged cove of Port Houghton, whale watching in Frederick Sound and Icy Strait and hiking through the lush terrain of the Tongass National Forest. Home port is Juneau. The per person double rate is from $7,195. Minimum age is 14.
Alaska’s Islands, Whales & Glaciers features eight days aboard the 10-guest yacht Misty Fjord. Guests cruise between Sitka and Juneau or enjoy an alternative route from Petersburg or Ketchikan. Native culture and off the beaten path explorations along with sea kayaking, hiking and zodiac adventures highlight this trip, getting guests off ship and exploring Southeast Alaska as much as possible. A hover flight at Taku Glacier brings guests onto an amphibious hovercraft vehicle designed to travel over ice, water, sandbars and grasslands. Home ports are Sitka and Juneau. The per person double rate is from $5,450.
Sikumi Custom Alaska Cruise is aboard the eight-guest MV Sikumi, the smallest vessel now in AdventureSmith’s Alaska line-up. A popular highlight is the exceptional fishing that is offered on board. The ship goes out for cruises of seven days without the confines of a rigid schedule. Daily excursions include kayaking, hiking, fishing, whale viewing, visits to sea lion rookeries, a day at the glaciers (unforgettable) and other exciting stops. Common sights are whales, bears (brown and black), seals, sea lions, Dall porpoises and bald eagles. The per person double rate is from $5,950. The cruise begins in Petersburg and concludes in Juneau.
Glacier Bay & Island Adventure offers a choice of vessels including the newly upgraded and renovated Chichagof Dream, added to the route for 2016. This 74-guest expedition ship adds significant cabin space as it replaces the 40-guest Alaskan Dream, now sailing other itineraries. Operated by members of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan Clan, the Glacier Bay and Island Adventure has a focus on Alaska’s nature, history and First Nations culture. This is an eight-day trip from $3,379 per person double. This program begins in Sitka and disembarks in Juneau.