I am not a cruiser. I can think of few less appealing vacations than traveling from touristy port town to another touristy port town with 3000 of my closest friends. However, my desire to see the inside passage of Alaska beat out my desire to never cruise again. I am so glad that we did this.
I recently did a 1 week Eastern Coves itinerary with my wife, and 2 sons ages 8 and 5. We were initially scheduled on a "family" cruise, but the dates were changed by the company, so we ended up on the regular cruise. Everything about our trip was truly fantastic. The staff on the boat from the hotel staff, kitchen staff, expedition leaders, and crew were amazing. Particular props go to Kathleen who took such good care of us in the dining room, and Chef JO who was so kind to create alternative meals for our kids. The food was surprisingly delicious and plentiful.
Every day held unique expeditions in incredibly beautiful locations. The expedition staff was professional, safety oriented, well informed, and very fun! Annie the head of the expedition staff made sure that my family was placed in appropriate expeditions for our kids. Kristin was particularly wonderful with our boys and even got our older son out on a paddle board and encouraged him to do a "polar plunge". Alison, Mark, and Liz were great as well.
Capt. Dano was great. Our family connected with Chief Mate Jeff, who is a whale biologist. We spend many hours with him in the bridge, learning about all kinds of marine mammals. He is an extraordinary fund of knowledge, and his enthusiasm was infectious. On 2 nights our boat ended up surrounded by humpbacks surfacing at sunset, truly a marvelous and majestic experience. Our kids got out of bed, and we watched from our 200 level room as the whales surfaced so close it felt like we could reach out and touch them.
During our one port stop at Wrangell, we went to the Anan Creek Bear Observatory and saw 15 black bears and 6 grizzlies. We watched them feed off of spawning salmon in Anan Creek.
We greatly enjoyed kayaking, hiking, paddleboarding, and the many wildlife encounters. On our first day in Windham Bay, we were observing a black bear from a few hundred yards (safely across a river) when an humpback surfaced and
"blew" about a 300 yards offshore. It was truly awe inspiring.
Alaska is an amazing place, and Innersea Discoveries is an incredibly well run operation from booking to disembarkation. The crew was wonderful, safety oriented, and fun. Our fellow travelers were adventurous and from all over the world. They were interesting and fun people, and the uncruise was quite informal. The rooms were clean and comfortable, but we didn't spend much time in them because we were so busy adventuring out into the Alaskan wilderness.
I can no longer say I will never cruise again, as we will likely take another trip with Innersea in the future. Our kids want to go back next year! They have been sad because they miss all their new friends from the boat.
Thanks Kristin, Jeff, Kathleen, Jo (and your great staff), Annie, Alison, Liz, Mark, Dano, Michael, Katherine, Blythe, Alex, Paul, Derek, Celia, Heather, Emily, Dain. If I forgot to mention anyone, I am sorry because you are all wonderful.