Sunday, May 6, 2012

More Time in Glacier Bay Sets These Cruises Apart

If Alaska is one of cruising's crown jewel regions, then Glacier Bay National Park is the Hope Diamond of the Great State's destinations. Unfortunately, not every cruise ship sailing through Alaskan waters makes it into Glacier Bay. Fortunately, with more of the coveted Glacier Bay entry days than any other cruise line, un-cruise adventure operator InnerSea Discoveries and American Safari Cruises can offer guests two or three days of in-depth exploration inside the Park throughout summer 2012. Designated as a Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Glacier Bay is a wilderness sanctuary with tidewater glaciers, deep fjords, towering mountains and a variety of wildlife including whales, seals, sea lions, bears, mountain goats, sea birds, sea otters and moose.

From May through August, three yachts of American Safari Cruises offer luxury adventures sailing 57 week-long Alaska cruises roundtrip Juneau with two days spent inside Glacier Bay: 22-guest Safari Quest, 36-guest Safari Explorer, 86-guest Safari Endeavour (new in 2012). Longer 15-day cruises between Seattle and Juneau (and reverse) are offered in spring and fall and also include a 2-day exploration inside the Park.

From June through August, the 76-guest Wilderness Explorer, an InnerSea Discoveries expedition vessel joining the fleet in spring 2012, sails 12 week long active adventure cruises between Juneau and Sitka, Alaska (and reverse). The itinerary includes three full days exploring inside Glacier Bay National Park including the lesser visited but equally spectacular East Arm with McBride Glacier and Muir Glacier. An innovative human-powered watercraft—a new amenity only aboard this vessel—may be taken out for low-impact, up-close exploration powered by two peddlers and up to six paddlers.

“We’ve been operating our yachts on extended explorations inside the Park for 15 years and many of our captains have even longer histories of experience there,” said Captain Dan Blanchard, principal and CEO. “This summer, a new human-powered watercraft aboard the Wilderness Explorer will allow guests to explore inlets inside the park that are closed to motorized traffic.”

Unlike most guests aboard cruise ships or tour boats, guests enjoying Alaska un-cruise adventures with InnerSea Discoveries and American Safari Cruises have the privilege of disembarking the boat to go hiking ashore, exploring via a small inflatable boat or kayaking—all accompanied by a National Park Ranger and shipboard expedition guides. A Park Ranger boards each boat at the park entrance and stays on board for the full two or three days overnighting on the boat (except for the 12-guest Safari Spirit). The Ranger takes the lead on narration and interpretation of the park’s history, native culture of the Hoonah Tlingit, geology, flora and fauna.

Visit their websites at American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries for more information.

NOTE: American Safari Cruises' Safari Spirit was also scheduled to sail the itineraries with two days in Glacier Bay this summer; however, the ship suffered an unfortunate fire while undergoing maintenance at Fishermen's Terminal in Seattle to prepare for its upcoming season in Alaska. No one was injured, but the 12-passenger vessel has been declared a total loss and will not be repaired. Booked passengers will be accommodated on the line's other yachts.

Photos Courtesy of American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries

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