Experience Alaska’s whales, glaciers, hiking —as well as a comfortable spot to enjoy the outdoor fire pit back on the yacht at the day’s end. This small cruise operator, which runs multi-day cruises from mid-May to mid-August, offers intimate, all-inclusive cruises in Prince William Sound, but does so with all the creature comforts of a yacht.
Home on the Water
When you board this 95-foot yacht, you’ll feel at home at once—this is more like a nice inn than a traditional boat. Your cabin—whether you choose the one with twins, a queen, or king beds—comes with roomy closets, flat-screen TVs and en suite bathrooms.
Walkways around the boat are covered, too, so that you can get great viewing, rain or shine, and everything is on the main deck, from the formal dining to the main viewing area and the fire pit up top with jacuzzi. Up there, you’ll find enough seating for everyone to gather around—to talk, drink tea, or just relax by the fire. With a maximum of 10 passengers, this makes a great trip for a family, couples, or a group of friends. But even if you are with folks you don’t know, there are no strangers after the first day—it’s that easy to relax here.
The Perfect Yacht for Alaska
No doubt, owner Al Sottosanti wanted that kind of experience for his passengers: nicely comfortable, but also versatile—perfect for exploring Alaska. Al has been a captain of everything from larger cruise ships to small fishing boats over his career as a captain. When he was launching Northern Explorer Adventures, he looked as far away as Florida for a boat that was right, and he found it in Seattle, Washington: a detailed yacht in turnkey condition. He drove it from Washington to Prince William Sound, through the Inside Passage.
It’s not just pretty on the outside, either. This is sustainable cruising—meaning they recycle everything, use low-emissions diesel fuel, and everything is charted, so that there’s no wasted energy. Al worked in remote Alaska lodges in the 1980s, and has always embraced a leave-no-trace mindset.
Choose from Paddling, Hiking, Bear-Watching and More
Whether you choose a 4- or 5-day voyage, the first four days are fairly similar: On the first day, you board in Whittier and head to Blackstone Bay, where you can go glacier-viewing, kayaking, hiking on Lawrence Glacier, bird-watching at a kittiwake rookery, or berry-picking. The second and third days takes you through Culross Passage and Perry Island, where you can choose from more activities: bear-watching, going to a private fish hatchery, or checking out the stellar sea lions that have hauled out on the rock outcroppings. The fourth day means a trip to waterfalls, clam-digging, or beachcombing at Waterfall Cove. For the longer trip, you’ll go on to Harriman Fjord and a fifth day spent in Hobo Bay, where you can kayak along the beach—keeping an eye out for bears along the banks or sea otters bobbing around in the bay—or hiking to the historic old mine a short distance away.
Gourmet Dining, Great Gear, Local Beer
Along the way, you have access to any outdoor gear that you’d need—like sea kayaks, an inflatable boat, rain gear, fishing poles, binoculars, and even gold pans for trying your luck in the streams (some think there’s a little gold in every stream around here).
Your meals are thoughtfully prepared by onboard chefs, using a lot of local ingredients; expect delights like French toast with fruit compote and Devonshire cream for breakfast, king crab mac n cheese for lunch, and sockeye salmon or filet mignon for dinner—all while looking at glaciers or orcas out in front of the boat, and sipping your coffee or, in the evening, a glass of wine or an Alaska microbrew.
The magic of this trip is how nimble you can be—in an area where such freedom is a huge advantage. The yacht might drop anchor 4 or 5 times in one day, to see a rookery, visit a glacier, check out an oyster farm or just look for whales. If you don’t see whales in one area, you can always go check out another—and do it all before dinner.