Why cruise by Small Ship through Alaska?
Wild Earth Travel’s Ellen Batchelor recently returned from cruising the Inside Passage by Small Ship. Below, she describes the highlights of travelling through winding fjords and pretty coastlines on a 74 passenger small ship.
‘Alaska is hard to sum up in just a couple of paragraphs. The grandeur of epic mountains, crashing waterfalls, tumbling glaciers, curious wildlife and indigenous culture meant that every day bought some new and memorable experiences to our small group.
If I had to describe all the highlights of Alaska in just one word it would be jawdropping. It can be compared to an immense version of our beautiful South Island of New Zealand, similar but on a much larger scale.
Everywhere we sailed there were towering mountains, deep ocean, green trees, plenty of wildlife and not too many people!
Glaciers were the highlight for me with sparkling chunks of ice floating in the turquoise water as we neared the glacier by ship or DIB (inflatable boat). Being on a ship is the only way to see this area, and the advantage of travelling on small ship is that we could get to areas that other larger ships couldn’t.
We were a small number of passengers as I sailed on the off season. The weather is slightly cooler but the days are still long.
The days lasted from 4.30am – 10.30pm and the sunsets seemed to go on for a long time so up on the sundeck was the best place to be to enjoy the serenity.
When I wasn’t hiking or kayaking, I was on the deck taking photos, the Chichagof Dream lounge has great access to the outside as do most of the cabins.
At the Dawes Glacier we were able to take the zodiacs up to what felt like the edge of the glacier, and after sitting there for a few minutes, we watched as a few massive chunks calved off into the icy waters below. It produced a massive wave which was exciting seeing it from close up.
On an afternoon of sailing along the Stephens Passage we encountered hundreds of dall's porpoises and at least 12 Humpback Whales around the ship. The captain stopped the ship for us while we all took photos and enjoyed this amazing experience.
There was a culturalist on board who informed us of the way the indigenous people lived in Alaska, while our visits to Kake and St Petersburg have (delete) showed us how they live now.
Whether it was a slideshow in the lounge or a question answered during a walk through the woods, our expedition guides were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and passionate about the areas that we visited.
Seeing whales, orcas, mountain goats, bald eagles, porpoises, harbour seals and bears thriving in their natural habitat was truly the highlight of this trip.
All the crew were professional and a visit up to the bridge deck was welcomed, this gave us a great view of the Orcas that were passing by us slowly, or the stunning scenery that opened up to use as we cruised the Passages.
Wild Earth Travel is Australasia’s Alaskan Small Ship Cruising Experts. My colleague Neil has also just returned from cruising Alaska aboard the Wilderness Adventurer, so we are happy to chat with you about what cruise is best for you.