Are You An Alaska Cruiser?

Written by  Lisa Tucker McElroy

Thinking about an Alaska cruise? 

Great idea!

And when you’re browsing through your options, consider thinking small – as in small ship, that is.

This summer, my teen daughter and I cruised through the Inside Passage on Fantasy Cruise’s Island Spirit, an owner-operated, environmentally friendly vessel with room for 32 passengers.  And while we’ve never done the ocean liner thing in Alaska, we’re convinced that a small ship is the way to go. 

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Here’s why:

You can get up close to the glaciers and wildlife.

Love whales?Jeff Behrens, the owner and captain, does too.  He’ll keep his trained and experienced eyes peeled for whales, dolphins, bears – you name it – then steer the boat as close as he can get to them.  Try doing that on a big ship!

There’s a naturalist on board. J

ulie, our naturalist, spent a lot of time teaching us about Alaskan culture and wildlife.  Because all of the passengers on board could fit into the living room/bar area, it was easy for her to point out the window or play a video to show us stuff.  When it was sunny, she’d take us out on deck to help us spot whales bubble net feeding or bears digging for clams.

The food is made for 30, not 3000.

On a big cruise ship, the food’s good, right?  Well, on a small ship, the chef is cooking for just a few people, which means that he can use the freshest ingredients and the most creativity.  Think just-caught Alaskan salmon or fresh-baked blondies and brownies.

The ship is environmentally friendly.

The Island Spirit docks at night and doesn’t use generators.  That means that it’s super quiet, plus extra “green.”

You make friends with everyone on the ship.

When you’re traveling with people for eight days, you really get to know them – when there are only 32 of them, that is.  We made friends from Wisconsin, Texas – even Australia.

You learn a ton.

Between our info sessions with the naturalist, the tours we took on land, and the many reference books on the ship, we learned a great deal about native Alaskan culture, art, and rituals.  Plus, we saw the actual sites where the Gold Rush took place, visited two eagle rehabilitation and education centers, and watched a troupe perform authentic native Alaskan dances. 

You cross an item off your bucket list.

Just wait until you tell all your friends about your small ship cruise – they’ll be so jealous, they’ll be standing in line to sign up for next year.