Glaciers, whales and the last frontier
Millions of people visit southeast Alaska for its grandeur and frontier history. But a tiny fraction of these people actually visit Alaska’s wilderness.
On this Alaska adventure, get close to wild Alaska’s tidewater glaciers, humpback whales and enter the ancient rainforests. This Alaska small ship cruise, sailing aboard the classic schooner Maple Leaf, is for the adventurous spirits who seek the road less travelled.
News: Maple Leaf Adventures is proud to have been awarded one of the very few high-season permits for Pack Creek bear viewing on our trips.
Trip Description: Alaska Adventure Small Ship Cruise
Southeast Alaska breathes majesty with every breath. It is a pristine wilderness of fjords, islands, rivers, and tidewater glaciers.
Touch, Taste and Smell the Landscape
On board a Maple Leaf Adventures small ship cruise, your exploration of this overpowering wilderness differs significantly from the typical cruise ship experience.
You will be part of a small, intimate group of only eight people who wish to experience the grandeur of Alaska by becoming a part of it, not by steaming past it at twenty knots.
You will explore remote islands and witness the silence of the grand Alaskan rain forests. You will see, hear, smell and feel the true wilderness, and learn about it from our experienced naturalist and crew.
Glaciers, Icebergs, Fjords
Cruising through sheer-sided glacial fjords, you will behold the powerful forces of nature at work as we experience intimately the tidewater glaciers of Alaska.
Picking our way past giant icebergs in unimaginable shades of blue and through floating pack ice, we will make our way to the face of the glacier itself.
From zodiacs or kayaks we will hear the great thunderous cracking as building-sized chunks of ice calve into the water. We’ll likely see seals and their newborn pups snoozing on the icebergs around us.
Islands and Passages with Abundant Wildlife
Humpback whales the size of school buses will rise from the ocean beside you. One of the benefits of an Alaska small ship cruise on the Maple Leaf is that you’ll be close enough to hear the whales breathing, to feel the spray as it drifts across the deck. With our naturalist at hand, you'll learn about these gentle giants as they feed and dive just feet away from you.
Our crew know the best places to find wildlife. Curious groups of sea lions at haul-outs; rafts of sea otters. On some trips, you’ll visit a seabird island that is home to thousands of colourful puffins.
Bears, Forests and Beaches
In quiet anchorages, you’ll explore the rich estuaries where land meets sea. Here, we see brown bears and black bears feeding on sedges, roots, crabs or salmon - and if we’re lucky, we’ll dine on fresh-caught crab and prawns ourselves.
Maple Leaf Adventures is one of the very few companies that are allowed to take guests to the Pack Creek bear viewing area at Admiralty Island. This special, restricted area is one of the best places on the planet to view brown bears.
In ancient temperate rainforests we’ll learn from our naturalist of the intricate relationship between forest and sea. We’ll also walk beaches of all kinds to experience Alaska’s wilderness from ground level.
Alaska’s Frontier Towns and Hot Springs
On your Alaska sail cruise, you’ll visit well known coastal towns and villages. They are populated by a few individuals who live in determined isolation, their spirit a legacy of the pioneers who first explored this last frontier.
The history of southeast Alaska native cultures (Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian), as well as of the Russians and Americans, is palpable in the villages and towns.
You’ll visit the islands of Baronof, Kruzof, and Chichagof, whose names echo the Russian period of Alaska’s history. Depending on the itinerary, you'll explore historic Sitka (the former Russian capital), Ketchikan (steeped in Gold Rush history) and Petersberg (with its strong Norwegian heritage). Some trips include a customized visit to Sitka, with historical tour, visits with raptors, meals and a stay in this fantastic Alaskan town, where Tlingit, Russian and American history converge.
On most trips we also visit a natural hot spring that bubbles up beside a roaring river. Here the tiny hamlet of Baranof boasts a store and bath houses to complement the natural rock pools.
This Alaska small ship cruise is for those who wish to explore the breadth and depth of southeast Alaska's wildlife, natural beauty, and culture in a personalized way, with expert guides.
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Our trips in Alaska are authorized with a special use permit from the US Forest Service. Maple Leaf Adventures is an equal opportunity provider.