One of the best trips we have ever been on, for sure. If you want a small boat, with great views, wildlife, activities, crew, and food, and 50 adventurous, well traveled people to laugh with for a week, this is a great trip. We had great weather, sunny days, but even if it had been misty or cloudy, which we were expecting in Alaska, the breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, opportunities to observe them, (not just "spot" them) along with activities, crew and staff, food, and the other guests we met and got to know, made this an AWESOME trip for us.
Lots of wildlife - eagles, (one time, we saw 8 in a tree at once) many opportunities to see whales, (including breaching, which is amazing to watch) orcas, sea lions, puffins, bears (Saw three onshore once, the first mate, Alex, announced the sighting, steered the boat toward shore so we could watch, for about an hour or so) moose. Spent three days in Glacier Bay with no other boats (except one sailboat. Captain Rob skiffed out to them and brought croissants and cobbler- as a friendly and diplomatic gesture.) We kayaked to small coves, close to glaciers and waterfalls (even caught a couple thunderous calving glaciers) quiet glacial waters and untouched wilderness. Stopped in small town of Haines for a day, did a river raft with very good guide from area. There was hiking and/ or bushwacking, kayaking, snorkling (obviously with wetsuits, which were provided) or skiff rides each day, or I suppose you could stay on board if you wanted to. There was 20- 30 min of morning yoga/stretching sessions on deck with Sarah, to get ready for the days activities, and also a couple of stationary bikes, stairclimbers and some weights. Excursions and activities included in cost.
I cannot say enough about the captain, crew, and staff. Impressive and more. All are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, friendly and eager to share their knowledge and experience. They want you to have a great time, and make it happen. All worked as a team, and it was not unusual to see the captain helping to haul out the kayaks, returning for the day. The guides are eager to share their passions- knowledge of the area, wildlife, plants. There were evening talks, which were plus/minus for me, short enough to listen to, not extensive. We had a Glacier Bay Park Ranger onboard for 2 days, who interacted with everyone, did a couple talks, and even ate meals with us. You could (and we did) go up to the bridge and talk with the captain and other crew. The captain altered the itinerary to get the best weather or sightings.
Food was excellent. Breakfast and lunch buffet. Service for dinner, with three entree choices (meat, seafood or veg or could do half and half) big salads available for lunch and dinner, and dessert. All you can eat crabs one night, and a delicious berry cobbler for 4th of July. No formal seating, and getting dressed for dinner is putting on a clean tee shirt, and then finding your friends to sit with. Generous cocktails, good wines, (included in cost) soft drinks at the bar. Patience was our only bartender and somehow she made it all happen, although other stewards could jump in to pour wines when she was busy)The metal water bottles provided are fine to use for the week, but it would be good if there was flavored waters or Mio drops to add to your water, or G2 or Smartwaters or something.
There is no cell or internet- absolutely glorious to "unplug" for the week (ship to shore calls if urgent) Most people in 60's age range, with a few college kids with parents. We had three kids under age of 12 on our boat, who were exceptional- enjoyed all activities, books, board games and cards, and even talking with the rest of us.
The last night there is a slide show with pics from the week's activities and all your new friends. You can opt to have them emailed to you, and you can keep them.
The small boat experience and this kind of access to wilderness makes the trip well worth the cost. Signed up to do another one- just have to decide on an itinerary, but we may do another Alaska one!
We are sailers, so used to small living space. Rooms are fine, clean, enough space for two people to be in room at the same time and dress and not bump into each other. Windows to outside. Option for queen (so one person climbs in and out of bed) or twin configuration, with a movable nightstand/storage cabinet (slides along the wall on a track) Bathroom small with combined shower/toilet but so what...it's a boat. Sink outside bathroom on wall so one person can be at sink, while other in shower. Soap, shampoo was good quality (surprising), and strong vacu-flush toilet. Good quality towels, hand towels and washcloths. Rooms don't lock, but not to worry. In addition to shelving and hooks in cabin, there were hooks outside the cabins to hang up jackets and many left boots (which you will need) outside door in hall, which still left plenty of room in the hallways.