Discovery Voyages

Experiencing Alaska by small versus large cruise ship is not unlike the difference between peering out the window of a jetliner cruising by at 35,000 feet and being equipped with your own set of wings. How else could you meander around icebergs and floes to get a front-row seat to a calving tidewater glacier show? Or see an orca spyhop, puffins do their comically klutzy water landings or a mama black bear give her misbehaving cub a whack on the behind?

Whittier-based Discovery Voyages offers opportunities like these through a wide range of itineraries aboard its 65-foot classic working yacht, the M/V Discovery. With a maximum capacity of 12 guests and four crew, these are tours that engage all the senses as you explore the nooks and crannies of Prince William Sound in the company of sea otters, harbor seals and other local characters against a backdrop of sparking waters and stunning, snow-capped peaks.

The company’s owner and operator, Captain Dean Rand, is a naturalist, master shipwright and marine mechanic who’s been involved with a broad range of scientific research throughout the Sound. Dean first came to Alaska more than 35 years ago to work the infamous Bering Sea crab fishery. It would be easier to list the places between Dutch Harbor and Southeast Alaska where he hasn’t worked or played since, but no place captured his heart like Prince William Sound.

Make Yourself at Home

Stepping aboard the Discovery is like being welcomed into his home, because it is his home. His daughters, Heather and Hannah, grew up on the Discovery, and are members of the crew when college schedules and other obligations allow. Other crew members, from the guides to the chef, are long-time Alaskans, backcountry adventurers and world travelers, the type who know their guests’ names before the Discovery pulls out of the harbor. The vessel itself has a storied past, which includes service in Southeast Alaska as a Presbyterian missionary boat with an altar in what’s now the lounge.

Some guests may be perfectly content up on the bow with binoculars and a camera, but there are plenty of opportunities for on-shore activities, including hiking and kayaking in protected bays and narrow passageways. Itineraries, from overnights to Harriman Fjord to multi-day excursions, leave room for altering course to meet guests’ interests, whether it’s to photograph whales or admire the tiny creatures with big Latin names that reside in tidal pools. Dean likes to keep things flexible enough to go where the action is. During commercial fishing season, that could mean stopping to watch seiners haul in a couple thousand pounds of chum salmon. On longer trips, that could mean heading over to the eastern part of the Sound, and if everyone’s up for it, poking around Cordova.

Keep it Simple

When evenings come, guests can kick back with a glass of wine while the chef puts the finishing touches on a Beef Wellington or some delicacy straight from the Sound. Dean may have made a run to Eaglek Bay to pick up some fresh oysters from his longtime friend, “Oyster Dave.” Or he may have received a radio call from an old fishing buddy who happened to be passing by.
“Hey, motor on over. I’ve got some fresh sockeyes for you guys for supper.”

Discovery Voyages also offers custom cruises and some outside-the-box trips, like its Sea-to-Ski excursions, a Discovery supported backcountry ski trip. About 40 percent of the Discovery’s guests are families, and a good many of them are repeats. They come from all over the world and all walks of life, but one thing they seem to have in common is a healthy sense of curiosity.

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Discovery Voyages

Season: Jun 17 to Jun 27
From $8550*
5 days / 4 nights
Ports of Call: Anchorage, Whittier, Prince William Sound & Copper Basin, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Cruise Ship Type: Discovery Voyages
Ship Name: Discovery

Explore a wildlife rich slice of Alas­ka, set in the scenic wilder­ness set­tings of Lake Clark Nation­al Park, and the Chugach Nation­al For­est Wilder­ness of Prince William Sound.

Season: Jun 10 to Jun 12
From $2,700
3 Days
Ports of Call: Anchorage, Whittier, Valdez
Cruise Ship Type: Small Ship Cruises
Ship Name: Discovery

Explore the nat­ur­al won­ders of north­west­ern Prince William Sound Alas­ka in this 3‑day ver­sion of our Clas­sic Dis­cov­ery Voy­age. This is the per­fect cruise for those who don’t have time to do the whole Inside Pas­sage or wish to com­bine their Alas­ka cruise with more shore-based activities. 

Season: Jun 13 to Jun 17
From $4500+
5 days/4 nights or 6 days/5 nights
Ports of Call: Anchorage, Whittier, Cordova, Valdez
Cruise Ship Type: Small Ship Cruises
Ship Name: Discovery

Per­fect for the adven­tur­ous trav­el­er, the Hike and Kayak voy­age sees all the same sites as on our Clas­sic voy­age, but with more excur­sions. Kayak among ice­bergs, hike through moun­tain mead­ows, and take in the scenery on this unique trip. Activ­i­ties can be cus­tomized to suit the inter­ests and activ­i­ty lev­el of those on board.

Season: Jul 09 to Jun 17
From $5650*
11 day / 10 night
Ports of Call: Anchorage, Chugach State Park, Whittier, Prince William Sound & Copper Basin, Denali National Park, Talkeetna, Fairbanks
Cruise Ship Type: Discovery Voyages
Ship Name: Discovery

Best of Prince William Sound & Denali Nation­al Park (Anchor­age to Fairbanks)

Season: May 31 to Jun 04
From $4145+
5 to 7 Days
Ports of Call: Anchorage, Whittier, Valdez
Cruise Ship Type: Small Ship Cruises
Ship Name: Discovery

Our Clas­sic Dis­cov­ery Voy­age is the per­fect wilder­ness sam­pler. We take in the most spec­tac­tu­lar sights of Prince William Sound — moun­tains, fjords, glac­i­ers and wildlife — with the num­ber of dai­ly excur­sions (ashore or by kayak) tai­lored to the inter­ests and activ­i­ty lev­el of the group.