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. AdventureSmith Explorations is expert at booking this kind of family-friendly adventure - and many more.

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.
  • Julie, 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.
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