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Which Small Cruise Lines Will Still Sail Alaska Cruises in 2021?
Wilderness Explorer

Which Small Cruise Lines Will Still Sail Alaska Cruises in 2021?

Which Small Cruise Lines Will Still Sail Alaska Cruises in 2021?
Wilderness Explorer
Aaron Saunders
Contributor
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Yes, Transport Canada's ban on cruise activities will likely impact most major cruise sailings to Alaska in 2021. But several small ship lines, which generally have American-built ships and crew, and stay primarily within Alaska waters, can still sail in 2021.

Here is the list.

UnCruise Adventures

Wilderness Adventurer

Departure Ports: Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Seattle

Ships: Safari Endeavour, Safari Explorer, Safari Quest, Wilderness Adventurer, Wilderness Discoverer, Wilderness Explorer, Wilderness Legacy

UnCruise Adventures is synonymous with Alaska. The small-ship operator, headed up by long-time Alaskan industry vet Dan Blanchard, makes the Last Frontier the bread and butter of its cruise calendar, despite having expanded into other areas, such as Costa Rica and Panama, in recent years.

Though UnCruise used to offer varying levels of inclusions according to the vessel, in recent years the company has standardized its offerings. The green-hulled "Wilderness" vessels now offer inclusive alcoholic beverages like their blue-hulled "Safari" counterparts, and all ships include kayaks and inflatable skiffs for journeys ashore, while select vessels offer stand-up paddleboards, underwater cameras, hydrophones, snorkel gear and yoga mats.

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UnCruise sailings to Alaska are highlighted by friendly, knowledgeable crews and activities on-shore that suit a wide array of mobility levels. Fun, adventurous and educational, they are a great choice for people seeking to see some of Alaska's most remote places.

Alaskan Dream Cruises

Chichagof Dream

Departure Ports: Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Yakutat

Ships: Kruzof Explorer, Chichagof Dream, Admiralty Dream, Baranof Dream, Alaskan Dream, Misty Fjord

Founded by the same local Alaskans that build and operate ships for Allen Marine (Alaska's largest marine tour operator), Alaskan Dream Cruises has a full slate of itineraries for 2021, ranging from short five-day cruises to weeklong expeditions. Embarkation ports run the gamut of Southeast Alaskan locales, with cruises departing from Juneau and Ketchikan along with more out of the way locales like Sitka and Yakutat.

The fleet is small, diverse and varied. Kruzof Explorer is a former Bering Sea crabber turned into a 12-guest passenger vessel outfitted with kayaks, zodiac rafts and even its own onboard sports fishing vessel. Alaskan Dream, meanwhile, is a uniquely-styled 40-passenger catamaran offering spectacular views from cabins and public areas alike. Misty Fjord, on the other hand, holds just 10 passengers and, though constructed as a passenger vessel, is patterned off the design for many Alaskan fishing vessels.

Fans of rugged, adventurous expeditions would do well to choose an Alaskan Dream voyage.

American Cruise Lines

American Constellation (Photo: American Cruise Lines)

Departure Ports: Juneau, Seattle

Ship: American Constellation

The largest U.S-flagged cruise line by fleet size, American Cruise Lines deploys its modern, 175-passenger American Constellation on three distinct itineraries in Alaska: an eight-day Southeast Alaska cruise from Juneau roundtrip; an extended 11-day Alaskan Explorer cruise roundtrip Juneau; and an 15-day Alaskan Inside Passage cruise from Seattle to Juneau, or reverse.

Departures range from May to September and are more laid-back than some of the other small-ship voyages on offer in Alaska, with American Cruise Lines focusing more on stopping in villages and towns as opposed to wilderness exploration. The line's standard weeklong journey includes stops in Petersburg, Haines and Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), along with opportunities for scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park, Frederick Sound, and Tracy Arm fjord.

Lindblad Expeditions

National Geographic Sea Lion

Departure Ports: Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Seattle

Ships: National Geographic Sea Lion, National Geographic Venture, National Geographic Quest

Although it operates several foreign-flagged expedition vessels, Lindblad Expeditions also has a fleet of smaller, U.S.-flagged vessels that do not need to call on a Canadian port in order to operate in Alaska.

Sailing from Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, with repositioning voyages to and from Seattle, Lindblad Expeditions offers voyages to Alaska that focus heavily on expedition-style adventure and education, thanks to the line's long-standing partnership with National Geographic. Expect to find expert guides, expeditions staff and lecturers aboard each sailing, along with passengers keen to learn and be as active as possible. Passive cruises these aren't.

National Geographic Quest and National Geographic Venture are two of the newest small, U.S.-flagged ships in the region, and tend to offer larger accommodations and a few more bells and whistles than other lines.

Lindblad does also offer longer expeditions that include a number British Columbian destinations, like Haida Gwaii (the former Queen Charlotte Islands). It is uncertain if these sailings would be allowed to proceed, despite total capacity falling within Transport Canada guidelines for operations.

Updated July 07, 2021

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