A retired friend told us that even if we had to mortgage the house, take the Great Bear Rainforest Tour with Maple Leaf Adventures. He was right. This is a trip of a lifetime that took us up the coast of BC and around Princess Royal Island to see humpback whales, black and grizzly bears and many other impressive wildlife examples up close and personal. With 9 guests and 5 crew members, this is an intimate trip on a 92-foot schooner that is over a century old and still in its prime.
Given that one of the crew is a full-time chef who uses what we catch along the way in many creative ways you can understand that one of my souvenirs was several extra pounds. While we went to see the white spirit bears but missed them by a day or two, we were not disappointed as we had an up close and personal experience with two very friendly and curious humpback whales who kept us entertained for almost an hour. Then, a day later we visited a remote whale research station and had the pleasure of sharing our photos and getting to name the two whales Maple Leaf, after our ship, and Canadian, to reflect the 100% makeup of our crew and passenger compliment, which is unusual. We had looked forward to meeting world travelers but thoroughly enjoyed our fellow Canadians on this spectacular trip.
This is not a cheap trip but we will save up and do it again. Maple Leaf is a true Eco Adventure group that treats you as someone special and who go out of their way to see that this is an unforgettable experience. They enjoy what they do and are good at it. Part of our enjoyment was seeing how truly thrilled that they were to see what we were all seeing and making new discoveries themselves.
Quarters are tight and physical effort is required but we felt safe and secure with like-minded travelers who enjoyed sharing an intimate experience aboard a magnificent ship with a wonderful crew.
Four couples have 4 curtained berths in a common "hold" and share two heads (washrooms). One converts to a shower one of the nights out. Waiting your turn is a riot. Otherwise there are flush toilets and sinks with hot water to wash up.
You do have to climb down and up a ladder to get to your quarters so you must be mobile.
Bunkies or berths are comfortable but not large. There is one upper berth for a child or it can be used to store your bags. You have to be organized when space is limited, especially when things get wet. They do dry clothes and boots in the engine room for you. It is kind of like camping out.
A single can be accommodated in the wheel-house above the engine room to sleep once the ship is moored. The bed must be stowed while sailing so this will not be for everyone.