Alaska Inside Passage - Juneau to Sitka
I can definitely say that spending a week in Alaska onboard a small ship was one of the best travel experiences I've had. A bonus: Little to no trip planning on my part! I was able to show up and have everything taken care of--a first for me! My tour leaders took care of all the planning and preparation, from choosing the incredibly scenic route to planning the menus and daily activities.
The crew responded to the opportunities nature presented to give us the best wilderness experience possible. A perfect example--whale watching! We came upon a group of very active humpback whales and the captain stopped the boat so that all of us could enjoy the show! We stayed there for about four hours, watching the whales literally encircle the boat, breaching, feeding, and sometimes coming so close that you could hear them breathe.
Each day brought us something new and special: A calving glacier, getting a close-up look at the translucent moon jellyfish, or joining our enthusiastic kayak instructors for an exploration paddle. Late one evening, we received an unexpected midnight invitation from the captain to come on deck to watch a display of the Northern Lights! On another day, a staff member announced (before wake-up call) that a mother grizzly and her two cubs were playing on the beach in front of the boat. Watching them curiously saunter about in the misty morning light, I felt so very fortunate, and a long way from the hustle and bustle of city life...
Onboard the ship, I also found unexpected camaraderie with my fellow passengers. The atmosphere was friendly and open, and it was easy to drop by the lounge for casual conversation or go out on one of the decks and enjoy the scenery with whoever happened to be there.
After spending a week on the Wilderness Discoverer, I'm convinced that small ship cruising is the way to explore the magic of Alaska's Inside Passage!