A small ship Alaska cruise allows you an even closer look at the beautiful scenery and exotic wildlife than most large or mid-sized Alaska cruises
. There are several cruise lines with ships that carry from a dozen up to 500 passengers on Alaska cruises. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the advantages of 100 or less cruisers exploring Alaska, enjoying excursions, or even just going ashore in the small Alaska towns like Juneau
, and Skagway
. Two or three thousand visitors from one ship really makes a difference in a small town!
The smaller ships can also visit some places that the larger ones can only dream about like the Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan, Tracy Arm fjord, or the Dawes Glacier. If you are looking for a more exotic, out-of-the-way itinerary, a small ship Alaska cruise might be the best choice. One word of caution. These smaller ships are usually more expensive and often fill up fast. For this extra cost, you'll probably get smaller cabins and less entertainment on board, but the trade off of a closer look at Alaska is worth it to many of us! In addition, small ships have many organized activities included, so the total fare may not be any more than on a large ship if you plan to take many wildlife or glacier viewing shore excursions.
Let's look at some of the small ship Alaska cruises for 2013. In addition to those detailed below, there are also many other small yachts offered for charter that cruise Alaskan waters. The accommodations on these range from bare-bones rustic to luxurious.
Find and Book an Alaska Cruise in 2013
American Cruise Lines
Riding the White Pass Railway from Skagway (c) Linda Garrison
American Cruise Lines operates the 92-passenger American Spirit on seven-day roundtrip cruises from Juneau. These cruises will visit Glacier Bay, Icy Strait, Sitka, Petersburg, and Tracy Arm. At the beginning and end of the season, the ship will sail between Seattle and Juneau on 11-day cruises. American Cruise Lines 2013 Alaska Cruises
Compagnie du Ponant
Alaskan Iceberg (c) Linda Garrison
Finding the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was the goal of many maritime explorer. It's one of those mystical destinations that avid travelers dream about. In August 1013, Le Soleal of Compagnie du Ponant will sail a 22-day itinerary from Greenland in the Atlantic Ocean through the Northwest Passage to Russia in the Bering Sea.
Le Soleal is a sister ship to the luxury ship Le Boreal
, so guests certainly won't be roughing it, which makes the trip even more appealing. Although not specifically an Alaskan cruise, it is a fascinating alternative. The ship will sail along the northern shores of Canada and Alaska before disembarking in Anadyr, Russia. More on Le Soleal Northwest Passage Cruise
Petersburg Harbor (c) Linda Garrison
Fantasy Cruises operates the 32-passenger Island Spirit on Inside Passage cruises. These nine-day cruises are all-inclusive and primarily sail between Sitka and Juneau or roundtrip from Juneau.Fantasy Cruises 2013 Alaska Cruises
InnerSea Discoveries / American Safari Cruises
Alaska Orcas (c) Linda Garrison
InnerSea Discoveries has six ships sailing in Alaska in 2013 - the 36-guest Safari Explorer, 22-guest Safari Quest
, and 86-guest Safari Endeavor are marketed as the American Safari Cruises' "luxury" adventure ships, and the 76-passenger Wilderness Discoverer
, the 60-passenger Wilderness Adventurer, and the 76-passenger Wilderness Explorer are marketed as the InnerSea Discoveries' "active adventure" ships.
Five different 7-day soft adventure expedition itineraries explore the Inside Passage between Juneau
or Juneau and Sitka
. Two different 14-day cruises sail roundtrip from Juneau or between Juneau and Sitka.
All the InnerSea Discoveries' itineraries feature plenty of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and other activities.
I loved our Wilderness Discoverer adventure cruise
between Ketchikan and Juneau and the many off-the-beaten paths we explored, as well as the great wildlife viewing and adventure activities. Innersea Discoveries/American Safari Cruises' 2013 Alaska
Hubbard Glacier (c) Linda Garrison
Hapag-Lloyd's expedtion ship the ms Bremen will feature two Alaska cruises in 2013. These fascinating 18-day itineraries sail between Vancouver and Nome and visit the Inside Passage, the Alaskan Peninsula, and some of Alaska's most remote outposts in the Aleutians and Pribolof Islands. These are definitely good cruises for those who have been everywhere! More on Hapag-Lloyd 2013 Alaska Cruises
Beachcombing in Alaska (c) Linda Garrison
Lindblad Cruises partners with National Geographic to have two itineraries in Alaska in 2013. The 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion sail two itineraries -- an 11-day cruise of Alaska, British Columbia, and the San Juan Islands between Seattle and Sitka, and an 7-day cruise of Alaska's Inside Passage between Juneau and Seattle.Lindblad 2013 Alaska Cruises
Silversea Silver Shadow in Alaska (c) Linda Garrison
Most small ships do not offer private verandas or luxurious accommodations. However, if you are looking for ultimate luxury on board, the Silversea Cruises' Silversea Silver Shadow
will sail 7 to 11 day Alaska voyages from Vancouver or Seward. With 382 passengers, she is much larger than the other ships in this category, but the Silver Shadow provides more amenities and is still considered "small".
Before and after the Alaska cruise season, the Silver Shadow
will be sailing in the Far East, so the ship will feature a Bering Sea repositioning cruise in May and again in September. More on Silversea Alaska Cruises
Mist Cove of The Boat Company in Alaska (c) Linda Garrison
The Boat Company operates two small ships sailing Southeast Alaska. This company has been in operation since 1979 and currently sails 7-day cruises between Sitka and Juneau. I sailed on the luxurious yet comfortable 24-passenger M/V Mist Cove
on an amazing soft adventure eco-cruise
that had marvelous daily opportunities for exploring, hiking, kayaking, and fishing
from Alaska streams or bays on its 20-foot skiffs.
Unlike other cruise lines, The Boat Company ships have a fishing license, so anyone who loves fishing for halibut or salmon will especially appreciate a journey on one of these two ships. In addition, the company is owned by a non-profit educational organization dedicated to SE Alaska conservation. This non-profit status means that some of your cruise fare is even tax deductible. The Boat Company 2013 Alaska Cruises
Harbor Seals in Alaska (c) Linda Garrison