Eagles circle the clear skies above me, curious sea lions poke their heads out to observe our group of kayakers and the fishy smell of salmon fills the air. We are paddling through Southeast Alaska’s Walker Cove, a narrow inlet branching out of Misty Fjord, flanked by plundering cliffs that reach up to heights of 150feet. Not only is wildlife abundant here, but the region’s raw nature and opportunities for adventurous activities make for an eye-opening sojourn.
Exploring Alaska’s Inside Passage
It’s the last day of our ‘un-cruise’ experience onboard American Safari Cruises’ Safari Quest vessel as we get a taste of its brand new InnerSea Discoveries voyage. The past week had seen us hiking through lush temperate rainforests, sea kayaking in salmon streams, exploring giant glaciers, flying onboard an Alaskan floatplane and cruising amidst giant icebergs. Each day offered a distinctive experience – the landscape changed from frosty fjords to turquoise green freshwater lakes from one day to the next. In the morning we could be hiking through a glacier and by noon trekking through muddy rainforests.
I had come to experience Alaska’s wilderness with the promise of an unconventional experience, veering far from the massive cruise crowds and visiting unexplored grounds – and I was not disappointed. My travel mates included a group of outdoor writers and photographers, most of whom had traveled to Alaska several times before. By the end of the trip, our expectations had been far exceeded.
Un-Cruise Experience on InnerSea Discoveries
In 2011, InnerSea Discoveries is launching its new small-group adventure voyages in Southeast Alaska aboard two newly refurbished expedition vessels. This new travel experience created by parent company, luxury yacht cruise line American Safari Cruises, is specially catered to active travelers looking to go beyond the tourist towns and dive deep into Alaska’s backcountry, without emptying their pockets.
So what’s an un-cruise experience? On the InnerSea Discoveries voyages, there are no massive crowds, a ridiculously tight schedule, long lines to get off the vessel and mediocre food. It’s easy to see how a voyage on InnerSea Discoveries differs greatly to usual cruise trips: the yacht has a capacity for only 49 (max), the itinerary is not fixed and depends largely on wildlife, guests are free to pick their preferred expedition activities and instead of port falls to touristy towns, the voyage brings guests through Alaska’s backcountry, anchoring in fjords and glaciers.
The moderately-priced voyage (fares begin at US$1,795 per person for a one-way cruise) sail from Juneau to Ketchikan and back. Each of the vessels is equipped with 26 staterooms that are immaculately furnished with Tempur-pedic mattresses, iPod docking stations and private showers. An on-deck hot-tub allows you to unwind to a view of the glaciers while optional massages will spring you back to life after an active day under the sun.
Besides the amazing naturalist-guided daily activities, there are also optional tours such as jetboat excursions, cave exploration and overnight camping available. These optional add-ons are usually priced at around $200-$250.
My favorite part of the voyage? Coming back to the warmth and comfort of the cruise after a day of adrenaline-packed activities. With warm, delectable food and smiley, genuine staff onboard awaiting our return, cruising has never been that rewarding and relaxing.
Over the next week, I’ll be writing more about my experience with InnerSea Discoveries. Stay tuned for more updates on my adventures in Southeast Alaska.
Disclaimer: My experience was sponsored by American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries, but all opinions are my own.
- Top 8 Adventurous Spots around the World
- Venturing into the Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador
- Mingling with Wildlife on the Galapagos Islands
- Sandboarding in Huacachina
- Roaming the Deserts of Egypt & Jordan
- Venturing into the Rocky Falls of Kakadu – Darwin