Conservation Travel Practices Net International Green Tourism Award Nod for Canada’s Maple Leaf Adventures

November 4, 2014 – The international sustainable tourism certification body, Green Tourism, has shortlisted three Canadian companies for its GoldStar awards next month, and British Columbia’s Maple Leaf Adventures is one of them.

Maple Leaf operates boutique expedition cruises in the fjords and archipelagos of British Columbia and Alaska. Focussing on providing peak experiences for small numbers of guests – for example, naturalist-led wilderness bear viewing – the company has always operated according to the principles of eco-tourism, since its inception in 1986.

These principles, and the company’s very high results on Green Tourism Canada’s independent, on-site sustainability assessment, netted Maple Leaf Adventures the award nomination.

“People aren’t satisfied any longer with vague promises about environmental or ethical responsibility – this became clear in a recent study by the Business Development Bank of Canada,” said Andrea Nicholas, manager of the international Green Tourism Business Scheme. “The businesses shortlisted for the GoldStar awards, including BC’s Maple Leaf Adventures, are real examples of those who have done the most to promote true sustainability while also benefitting the bottom line.”

With the addition of its second boutique ship for 2015 trips in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island region as well as Alaska, Maple Leaf Adventures has proven that there is a growing market for conservation travel. The term conservation travel denotes trips that contribute to the conservation of wildlife, natural places and local communities as a natural outcome of business activities.

“As entrepreneurs, we are interested in improving things in the world,” said Maple Leaf Adventures’ marketing manager and co-owner Maureen Gordon. “We appreciate the challenge of creating a business that proves you can be successful and not destroy the planet in the process. Certification bodies like Green Tourism Canada are essential to separating the green-washers from the authentic businesses, so we are truly honoured to be nominated for this award.”

The awards will be announced on November 10th at the Green Tourism Conference in Manchester, UK.

For information on Maple Leaf Adventures’ boutique expedition cruises by classic ship, see or call +1-250-386-7245.


Sample tweet: Canada’s conservation travel company @MapleLeafAdvent nets green tourism award nom from @the_gtbs!

PHOTOS available from

Media contact: Maureen Gordon, Maple Leaf Adventures or 1-250-386-7245 / 1-250-881-6143 (mobile)

About Maple Leaf Adventures

Selected for Canada’s “Signature Experiences Collection” by the Canadian Tourism Commission, Maple Leaf Adventures has provided conservation-focused, big adventures aboard small ships since 1986. With a reputation as one of Canada’s top sustainable tour operators, its multi-day excursions give guests one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the most beautiful and rare places in the world, often in areas that were once under threat of destruction or in dire need of protection. In 2012, Maple Leaf was awarded the Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award, for promoting the appreciation of Canada’s natural, cultural and aesthetic heritage, while also protecting them. As a long time practitioner of ecotourism, Maple Leaf Adventures pioneered travel in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest and northwestern Vancouver Island and has made significant contributions to conservation. National Geographic Adventure has rated Maple Leaf Adventures one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”. For more information, visit

About Green Tourism Business Scheme and Green Tourism Canada

With over 2,000 members in the UK, Ireland and Canada, we are the largest and most established sustainable grading programme in the world. Green Tourism offers credible, trustworthy, independent guidance to tourism businesses wishing to operate sustainably.      Green Tourism is recognised by UK national and regional government as a crucial part of its drive towards sustainability. Our aim is to build on this strong position and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of sustainable tourism in the future whilst extending our work around the world.

Green Tourism is independently validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) on behalf of VisitEngland, VisitWales and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and endorsed by VisitScotland and Failte Ireland. For more information visit

Posted in Conservation, Ecotourism, Green Business, News | Leave a comment

Autumn 2014 Getaways – Wildlife, Nature & Great Food!

Fall wildlife and harvest drive October tours

When the weather cools, things heat up for Maple Leaf Adventures boutique tours in southern BC waters – from the Broughton Archipelago to the Gulf Islands.

Wildlife migrations to our coast and seasonal food are the themes of Maple Leaf’s fall cruises in October.

Their three boutique-style October adventures, available for booking now, are:

  • Whales & Totems & Discovery Islands – this 5 night cruise explores the humpback whales, orcas and other marine mammals of northern Vancouver Island and adjacent island groups. Oct 11-16, $2700 plus tax all inclusive (depart Port McNeill, return Nanaimo).
  • Gulf Islands National Park Reserve – this 4-night cruise explores the fall wildlife and nature of hard-to-reach parts of the  Gulf Islands. These are wild and peaceful small islands such as Cabbage, Tumbo and Prevost. Oct 21-25, $1850 plus tax all inclusive (depart and return Sidney).
  • Tall Sails & Alescraft beer, the fall harvest and food star in this cruise that features 50 top BC craft beers, brewing historian Greg Evans, exclusive meals with brewmasters and cruising the Gulf Islands. Oct 26-31, $2385 plus tax all inclusive (depart and return Sidney).

Maple Leaf’s award-winning trips have received the top level of certification for green tourism in Canada. Trips include a maximum of eight guests along with an expert crew of five including local naturalists.

For info or to book:, email us, or call 1-250-386-7245 (toll free in Canada and USA at 1-888-599-5323).

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Southeast Alaska: Whales & Glaciers on a Maple Leaf Adventure

Just received reports via satellite from Naturalist Mary Morris aboard SV Maple Leaf in Alaska.

We got going extra early today to make the trip into the head of Endicott Arm to see the Dawes glacier. We knew right away when we were in the inlet as there were lots of bergy bits and a few enormous icebergs too, going by.

We read up on glacial processes and why the ice front is blue, and were lucky enough to be in the zodiacs a safe distance (but we sure felt close!) away from the ice front in time to watch two huge pieces fall. Arctic terns circled overhead.

Most impressive were the large swells that rolled out from the fallen bergs to ride the inflatables up and down a good metre or so in the rolling concentric waves.

We all agreed that there’s been something (or four things!) totally incredible every day but seeing real calving glaciers today was a highlight of our trip for sure. We had the sense of going back in time as we threaded our way through the floating ice, up the fjord towards the glacier, along the vertical rock walls and U-shaped hanging valleys. Breathtaking.

Further spectacular daily events for us are the meals from the galley by Chef James. Every meal a delicious blend of flavours, including fresh halibut, caught while drifting in south Frederick Sound watching humpback whales .

Not sure which was more exciting, having two whales rise together to spout just off our stern, or the grinning face of the successful halibut fisherman, posing for photo next to the big flat fish…and all was unfolding before morning coffee break.

Tomorrow promises to be another incredible day as we are scheduled to visit the grizzly bear sanctuary at Pack Creek on north Admiralty Island.

What an amazing place, this vast landscape of Southeast Alaska.

Report by: Mary Morris (Maple Leaf Naturalist Extraordinaire)

Learn more about our Alaska Adventure Cruises!

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Canadian Geographic Great Bear Rainforest Expedition

Ursula channel, between Gribbel Island and mainland North America (Great Bear Rainforest) Monday, June 23, 2014, 9:22 am

By: Maureen Gordon

Mist rises from cedars and spruce on the hillsides, and an inky sea mirrors the blue-white sky and mountain rock faces. In this watery “valley”,  the SV Maple Leaf is the only ship to glide through the mirror.

Our guests, captain Kevin, and special guest naturalists Robert Bateman and Birgit Freybe Bateman linger in the galley after breakfast over coffee and stories. Our destination this morning is Hartley Bay, a small Gitga’at community tucked into a fold in the Great Bear Rainforest’s undulating coastline.

Yesterday morning, anchored in one of the coast’s most spectacular inlets, we zodiaced up the river, past a meadow of Lyngby’s sedge, lupins, paintbrush, buttercups and northern rice root. At a bank, next to the foot of a two thousand foot high mountainside, we met with the Kitasoo-Xai’Xais bear research team, who are working with Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s scientists to study the region’s bear population.

Near us, a mother grizzly bear carefully watches her triplet cubs. We move to a better viewing area after our chat with the researchers. A mother of three little grizzlies has to be extremely cautious – one cub exploring too far from cover and from mum’s side is an easy target for a predatory male bear. Last night, we had a short viewing of this group of four before the mother shooed her cubs up the mountainside to cover.

This morning, however, she rewards us with her trust. As her cubs climb and slide off fallen trees, dig in them for bugs and bat at each other, she is more concerned with keeping a watch out up river for the threat of a male bear.

She is a mother bear we know from previous years. Maybe she recognizes us. Maybe she just recognizes the opportunity that eco-tourists provide: a bit more safety for her cubs since the big males prefer not to be too close to us humans. As we sit for hours, taking thousands of photographs, she slowly moves herself and her cubs closer to us, eating sedges all the while.

She must eat these protein-rich sedges morning ’til night, to get enough sustenance for herself, and calories to produce milk for three active cubs. They are little bears, born this January in the den. The cubs of course provide a variety show of entertainment. In between mouthfuls of sedge, they climb everything in the vicinity, stand on their hind legs to look at us in the same way we are looking at them.

When we finally say goodbye and float downstream, we notice the mother bear shoos the cubs back toward the forest’s edge.

We cruise up Princess Royal  Channel, the main line of the Inside Passage, before turning off it into a side channel. At the end of  this channel: natural hot springs. A pre-dinner soak under the cedars is pure bliss before dinner.

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Adventure Travel Operations Manager – Position

Adventure Travel Operations Manager

This mid-level position is the ideal choice for someone with a love of soft adventure travel, and with solid project management, budgeting, field operations and customer service experience.

If you like managing and administering projects, orchestrating the movements of people and goods, and ensuring the expectations of guests are exceeded, this may be for you. If you’re ready for responsibility as key member in the growth of an exciting organization, we’d like to talk.

This is a management position. If you are the right candidate but need some training to become a manager, we will hire you at a senior coordinator level and expect that you will be able to rise to the manager level within 6 to 12 months.

The Company

Maple Leaf Adventures is an award-winning company with a long history of operation.

At Maple Leaf, you will be a key part of a small, dynamic team that is dedicated to providing exceptional experiences aligned with the values of ecotourism. You’ll be proud to work hard, with lots of attention to detail, and participate in the rewards of a high-calibre adventure travel company on our spectacular coast.

A small business requires people to “wear several hats” and sometimes do work on different professional levels. You will find this applies here. Your focus will change from season to season.

Position Summary

Reporting to the President, the Adventure Travel Operations role has three main (and related) areas of responsibility:

  • Administration of trips, permits and budgets
  • Logistics of operations
  • Guest services delivery

In order to fully understand these functions, the successful candidate will also be able to work as crew on several Maple Leaf wilderness cruises each year.

Areas of Responsibility

You will manage the following, as well as doing some of the work yourself and supervising another team member doing some of the work:

Government permitting, compliance and relations

The company’s applications for and compliance with all permits, agreements, and certifications required to operate our trips.

Trip operational management

You will facilitate the smooth functioning of our operating season. This includes budgeting, preparing the annual operating calendar, prepping the ship and crew for the season, coordinating the logistics of ship supplies and all pre- and post-trip movements of people and goods, creating public documents involving trip logistics, and creating crew resource materials, training on new systems. You’ll interface with third-party suppliers; you’ll recommend and make improvements; you’ll manage to a budget, ensure proper fiscal management of the trips, and report your status.

Guest services and satisfaction

You will help ensure that our trips are exceeding guest expectations at all times, which includes becoming familiar with the trips by working as a crew member from time to time, gathering and analyzing feedback, putting together and overseeing some assigned aspects of guest services delivery, and developing improvements.

Administration and office systems management

You’ll be responsible for some areas of company administration, including insurance, office suppliers, policies and some HR functions.

Other projects

You’ll perform management functions for complex projects, provide research, analysis, reports or other documents, and other duties as assigned.

Skills and Qualifications Required – The right attitude is everything!

Below are the qualifications that the perfect candidate would have; the world is not perfect, so if you believe you are ready for the challenge and responsibility, and you have the attitude of a great team player, we encourage you to apply and explain how you’ll kick this out of the park.

  • 5+ years professional experience, with a mix of operational and administrative functions, including people or project management and budget management.
  • Proven ability to work independently but as part of a close-knit team.
  • Ability to understand and improve systems, while keeping the details straight.
  • 4-year degree or equivalent education and critical thinking demonstrated.
  • Strong proficiency with office software including Excel, Word and calendars.
  • Tact and the ability to build good relationships, across geographic and cultural boundaries.
  • Proven leadership abilities.
  • Good written and verbal communication and good analytical skills.
  • Great attention to detail.
  • Love of multi-tasking, managing many details, and handling changes.
  • Understanding of small business.
  • Wilderness recreational or professional guiding experience.
  • Ability to work as crew on the ship in remote BC/Alaska locations.

Additional Desirable Qualifications

An individual with a “let’s make this happen” attitude will get most out of this position.

  • You thrive in a fast-paced, “whatever it takes to get it done” work environment.
  • Familiarity with boats, including passenger-carrying yachts/boats is a big plus.
  • Tourism-specific experience is a plus.
  • Familiarity with Transport Canada rules and regulations is a plus.
  • Knowledge of the remote BC coast is an asset.
  • Demonstrated commitment to sustainability.

Compensation and Location

  • This is a full-time position that pays a competitive salary with benefits package.
  • You’ll experience first-hand the magic of the adventures, rated the “Trip of a Lifetime” by Frommer’s and one of the “50 Tours of a Lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler.
  • This position is in beautiful Victoria, B.C., capital of B.C.’s vibrant tourism community, in an attractive office in old town. You will also be required to work on several trips in the BC or Alaska wilderness aboard our sailing ship.

How to Apply

  • Please send resume with cover letter to by Monday, June 30 at 4 p.m. No phone calls please.
  • Please do not send Microsoft Word documents. Please use either PDFs or paste your resume into an email message. Thank you!
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Trip Reports from the Haida Gwaii tours

View over the bowsprit, Haida Gwaii. Photo by James Warburton.

Both of Maple Leaf’s ships are operating in Haida Gwaii right now since May and June are the best times to be there!

The trips are staggered, so each ship is in a different part of Gwaii Haanas at different times.

Here are some highlights reported by the ships from their trips:

Humpback whale, flick feeding in Gwaii Haanas. Photo by James Warburton.

Not surprisingly, there have been amazing whales. Dozens of humpback whales, some orcas (killer whales) and even a “sociable” minke whale.

A bonus has been the sunny, relatively calm weather. As a result, we talked to Captain Russell as the Passing Cloud was rounding Cape St. James – a seabird and sea lion colony.

Cape St. James, in Haida Gwaii, on a flat-calm day. Photo by James Warburton.

This southernmost tip of Haida Gwaii, at the meeting point of the Pacific ocean, Queen Charlotte Sound and Hecate Strait, can be one of the roughest bodies of water on the coast. So to cruise around it while it’s flat calm, and then sail up the west coast of Kunghit Island in the long northern sunset, in the company of albatross, is very special.

Cape St. James, on the southern tip of Kunghit Island, Haida Gwaii

Happy World Oceans Day! We celebrate the abundance of marine life in Haida Gwaii and are thankful that Gwaii Haanas is protected from the mountain tops to ocean bottom — unique in the world!

From reports by Capt. Greg on the SV Maple Leaf and Capt. Russell on the SV Passing Cloud.

View more information about our Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) tours.

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Maple Leaf Adventures Introduces ‘SWELL’

A classic tug refit into an expedition yacht offers adventures in British Columbia and Alaska

MV Swell, Maple Leaf Adventures' new boutique expedition yacht for the BC and Alaska coast. Photo (c) Jason Bradley.

May 27, 2014, Victoria, BC – British Columbia-based Maple Leaf Adventures is adding a new ship to its fleet for 2015: Swell is an 88-foot, classic wooden tugboat which has been beautifully restored to offer boutique expedition cruises along the dramatic BC and Alaska coast.

Kevin Smith, president of Maple Leaf Adventures. Photo (c) Mark Hobson

Responding to the growing global demand for enriching, multi-day journeys aboard small ships, Maple Leaf Adventures has begun selling 2015 packages aboard Swell.

No more than 10 guests at a time will explore the coast’s wild fjords and archipelagos with resident experts as guides and crew. These boutique expeditions are very personalized trips.

The introduction of Swell extends the ability to take these live-aboard adventures to people who seek more privacy and space than these trips typically offer.

Guests will have unparalleled access to the bears, whales, glaciers, nature and culture of:

  • The Great Bear Rainforest
  • Canada and Alaska’s Inside Passage
  • Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands)
  • Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Vancouver Island

Click to view a PDF with photos

Swell is the perfect sister ship to our grand, 110-year old, schooner Maple Leaf,” says Captain Kevin Smith, founder and president of Maple Leaf Adventures.  “Like Maple Leaf, Swell has beautiful, classic lines and a history as a tough coastal ship.  What is different is that Swell offers a lot more room, comfort, and privacy for guests.”

Swell has five private staterooms – each with its own private ensuite – plus a salon, two deck lounges and a hot tub. All cabins open onto a covered promenade and have natural light and opening windows with views to sea and landscape.

Kayaks, rigid-hull inflatable boats, hydrophone and other gear ensure that Swell, as well as the Maple Leaf, continue to offer these remote-access trips with the spirit of discovery that the company is known for.

Click to view a PDF with photos

Most of the coast’s spectacular wildlife and scenery, and some of its greatest cultural sites, are hundreds of miles from roads, and accessible only by water.

Starting with a minimum of five day, four night packages, trips aboard Swell range from Cdn $1925 to Cdn $8000 per person and include all gourmet meals, snacks and beverages, shore excursions, expert local guides, interpretation on natural and cultural history; photography tips; wildlife viewing; taking part in local and nautical customs; wild food foraging; special access permits to off-limits areas; and the friendships and camaraderie that develop from full days exploring the natural world together.

To introduce Swell, guests who book 2015 trips before September 30, 2014 will receive free local flights or gear shop gift certificates.  More information on Swell`s coastal adventures may be found at, and on the ship page here.

Built in 1912, Swell worked the coast for 92 years as one of its most beloved large tugs, and recently underwent a $3.5 million refit to offer guest accommodation. Maple Leaf Adventures is planning upgrades to the staterooms and lounges, and, as befitting Maple Leaf Adventures` commitment to ecotourism, serious sustainability upgrades to Swell`s mechanical operations. A coastal company-through-and-through, one hundred percent of Maple Leaf Adventures’ revenues are reinvested into the communities who welcome the ships` small gatherings of guests. As a benefit, guests learn first-hand about life in BC`s remote coastal communities.

Swell’s 2015 trips are true voyages of discovery that are designed to take advantage of the coast’s natural rhythms – starting in spring, when flora and fauna flourish on the coast, and continuing into autumn, when salmon runs and wildlife migrations keep life pulsing along the shores.

For more information on Maple Leaf Adventures’ 2015 offerings aboard Swell and the Maple Leaf, visit or call 250-386-7245.

About Maple Leaf Adventures

Selected for Canada’s “Signature Experiences Collection” by the Canadian Tourism Commission, Maple Leaf Adventures has provided conservation-focused, big adventures aboard small ships since 1986. With a reputation as one of Canada’s top sustainable tour operators, its multi-day excursions give guests one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the most beautiful and rare places in the world, often in areas that were once under threat of destruction or in dire need of protection. In 2012, Maple Leaf was awarded the Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award, for promoting the appreciation of Canada’s natural, cultural and aesthetic heritage, while also protecting them. As a long time practitioner of ecotourism, Maple Leaf Adventures pioneered travel in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest and northwestern Vancouver Island and has made significant contributions to conservation. National Geographic Adventure has rated Maple Leaf Adventures one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”. For more information, visit


Note to editors: High resolution images available upon request

Media Contacts:

Maureen Gordon, Maple Leaf Adventures: 250 386-7245, 250-881-6143 (cell) or

Deirdre Campbell, Tartan Group: 250-592-3838, 250-882-9199 (cell) or

Posted in Ecotourism, News, Trip Insights & Experiences | Comments Off

Trip report: May is heaven in Gwaii Haanas

It’s probably one of the least-known things of many little-known things about Haida Gwaii: May in Gwaii Haanas can be wild heaven.

Reports from our first 2014 Haida Gwaii trip bear this out.

Starting in Masset on May 14 and finishing at Sandspit today, May 22, our guests travelled from north to south in Haida Gwaii and explored the rich, protected area, Gwaii Haanas, for 8 days.

Every trip is unique. On this one, highlights according to the crew included:

  • Dozens and dozens of humpback whales, some practising their spectacular flick-feeding technique
  • A pod of orcas
  • Other whale species: Fin, gray and minke
  • Finding a prized glass ball on a beach (these are hand-blown fishing floats from old Japanese fishing nets that have been circulating for decades in the North Pacific, occasionally breaking free of the gyre and getting blown toward land)
  • Visited all area village sites (including UNESCO World Heritage Site SGang Gwaay, Windy Bay and the new Legacy Pole, T’aanuu, K‘uuna (Skedans), and Cumshewa)
  • Great visit to the intertidal life of Burnaby Narrows where the sea stars look healthy (not suffering from wasting disease as some are further south)
  • Getting up to 8 knots under sail …a fantastic cruising speed achieved with the free power supplied by nature

All of this with plenty of the sunshine that – believe it or not – is most prevalent in May, as well as some wind and some rain, for good measure.

– with reports from Capt. Greg Shea on the Maple Leaf

Learn more about our Haida Gwaii tours here or ask us about them.

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Cabins Now Available on 2nd Ship – Bateman & Canadian Geographic Expedition

Great Bear Rainforest Expedition with Robert Bateman and Canadian Geographic, June 19-27, 2014

The second ship is now available for booking.

Enjoy your private cabin aboard the classic, coastal ship MV Columbia III.

The first ship, the SV Maple Leaf, is now full.

There are just 6 places available on the Columbia III.

Below you’ll find information about this beautiful vessel.

The Ship & Accommodations

Columbia III is a comfortable and beautiful ship.

The woodwork on her interior gleams, and her furnace and fireplace keep the ship cozy and warm.

In her main salon, two large settees provide spacious seating for reading and socializing, or just watching the velvety-green coast slide past the windows.

Her wheelhouse is a genial place to sit with the crew and and learn about the navigation and surroundings.

Her private cabins have either two comfortable beds or a comfortable double bed, plus a washstand. The three heads (washrooms) on board all have hot running water and two have showers.

Her indoor dining area is the perfect place to reflect on the day’s adventures over superb food freshly prepared in the galley and a glass of wine.

On deck, she has plenty of places to sit and enjoy the wildlife and scenery.

See more photos of the shipAsk about the trip |  Read about the trip Get brochure

About the Great Bear Rainforest Expedition Cruise Jun 19-27

This expedition cruise offers an up-close experience of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.

Your notable guides include Maple Leaf Adventures’ local crew, staff of Canadian Geographic, and special guest naturalists Robert Bateman and Birgit Freybe Bateman, who look forward to sharing their home coast with you.

Spaces are very limited: maximum 7 guests per ship. This gives you amazing access and personal attention.

In addition to the features below, this trip also includes local airfare and transfers and travel local travel arrangements as well as the sustainability fee. (These are extra on our other trips, but are included in this trip’s price, for your added convenience.)

Trip highlights include:

  • cruising fjords and channels aboard beautiful, historic, small, coastal ships;
  • bear and other wildlife viewing;
  • rainforest and wildflower ecosystem walks;
  • visiting small coastal communities;
  • cultural history;
  • visit with whale researchers to discuss recent discoveries;
  • whale watching;
  • exploring west coast islands and beaches;
  • warm care and attention from your expert and friendly local crew;
  • personalized guidance;
  • superb meals and camaraderie aboard small ships.

Proceeds from this trip support the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and coastal research and conservation.

Unlike other trips, the price for this trip includes local flights from and to Vancouver airport, the sustainability fee, flight booking and arrangements, a guide at the airport and other special-to-this-trip arrangements.

June 19-27, 9 days / 8 nights, $9995

Depart & return: Vancouver, BC

Inquire about this trip |  Read about this tripGet the brochure (pdf)

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Maple Leaf Chef Time Lapse

A fun time-lapse as Maple Leaf chef James Maine prepares dinner in the galley.
(30 seconds)

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