Alaska’s Inside Passage: Small Ship Cruising with InnerSea Discoveries

by Chris on August 29, 2011

First look at our Alaska small ship cruise on the Wilderness Discoverer from InnerSea Discoveries

 Alaska small ship cruises, Wilderness Discoverer, InnerSea Discoveries

I’ll be continuing coverage this week of my Alaska small ship cruise on the Wilderness Discoverer, an expedition cruise run by InnerSea Discoveries.

Whales in Frederick Sound, Wilderness Discoverer, InnerSea Discoveries, Alaska small ship cruise

The company bills itself as “the Uncruise,” with the ability to adjust its itinerary depending on the weather and wildlife. I found that we enjoyed this flexibility, particularly when the captain took extra time to let us watch the humpback whales in Frederick Sound.

 laska small ship cruises, InnerSea Discoveries, WIlderness Discoverer

I had toured the Wilderness Discoverer in Seattle during an open house held by InnerSea Discoveries and their sister company, American Safari Cruises. At the time, I thought the ship to be a good size. I figured that 76 passengers would be just enough to make some friends, without feeling claustrophobic.

Alaska small ship cruises

As I wrote in my corporate profile of InnerSea Discoveries for CruiseCritic, the Wilderness Discoverer offers thoughtful touches on board. There’s a reasonably priced full bar, memory foam mattresses and a special kayak launching dock that makes it super easy to get out on the water.

 Alaska small ship cruises, Wilderness Discoverer

My favorite part of the ship were the above-deck cabins, all of which had windows that you could open and close. I kept ours open for most of the trip so I could enjoy the crisp morning and late sunsets. I took the photo above while I was sitting on my bed!

Alaska small ship cruises, Wilderness Discoverer, InnerSea Discoveries

You can’t really expect glamor on an expedition cruise. Case in point: the bathrooms. In most cabins, your shower shares a space with your toilet (a plastic shower curtain keeps the toilet and your towels dry while you bathe). Oh well. The ship conserves water so they don’t want you to linger in the shower too long anyway.

 Alaska small ship cruises, Wilderness Discoverer, InnerSea Discoveries

I had been worried that I was too lazy and out of shape for an expedition cruise. But I found that the ship’s crew made it easy to do as much as you could, without feeling stupid. I came to really enjoy kayaking, and tried to go paddling almost every day (I ended up getting so close to a seal that I accidentally almost beaned him with a paddle!).

Alaska small ship cruises, InnerSea Discoveries, Wilderness Discoverer

I had also worried that we wouldn’t like ship’s passengers. Seattle has more than its fair share of uptight outdoors people who look askance at others who don’t hard-core camp in the rain or regularly hike umpteen miles. But while REI was the dominant label, people weren’t as judge-y or high-minded as I feared. We had some good times lingering over meals (although the ship does not attract a party crowd; I don’t think we’ve ever had a bar bill so low as we did on this cruise).

Alaska small ship cruises, Wilderness Discoverer, InnerSea Discoveries

Above all, I loved the peace that we found on this cruise. I loved waking up in isolated bays surrounded by mountains and trees, instead of a noisy port. Instead of battling the crowds in Glacier Bay, we had Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm all to ourselves. And while the evenings on the ship were quiet, I enjoyed having so much uninterrupted reading time.

Alaska small ship cruises, InnerSea Discoveries, Wilderness Discoverer

More on the ship’s itinerary to come this week…



| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kent @ No Vacation Required August 29, 2011 at 8:50 am

OK… I’m reading this from a “tech catch up day” while in Alaska, and it’s making me want to run back out there to experience more (without taking a day off!).

Your pictures are incredible. Love the kayaks.

We’re very excited to swap stories.


Lauren Braden August 29, 2011 at 10:52 am

OH my goodness, I do love Alaska. Cannot wait to return. We need to start a West Seattle travel blogger fan club for Alaska! And your photos are beautiful. Even in my summer trips to Alaska, I’ve found there is a quality to summer there that still evokes another place, another season that is quite unlike our summer. I feel this in your photos.


Cailin August 29, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Sounds like you had a great time. So beautiful! I have yet to go on a cruise but I think I would definitely love to go on one no matter the size 🙂


Abby August 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Stunning photos! I love the colors of the kayaks, and the movement in the water one. And those boots are so great!


Jade August 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Okay- sign me up for a trip to Alaska!


Nan Stambler August 29, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I WILL be coming . . . Alaska is calling!
The photos are insprieing ~ Thank you Inner Sea Discoveries!


Angela August 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Wow, gorgeous views and photos.


Pete Heck August 30, 2011 at 12:18 am

Great photos, I love the clouds in the photo with all the kayakers in the water. That last photo is stunning and I’d love to be the only one on the water in a kayak at that point. For me nothing beats breaking glass in the early morning.


Don Faust August 30, 2011 at 10:17 am

Thanks for the photo comments, everyone! The water, mountains and wispy clouds were amazing. The mornings were mostly calm with the ship anchored in a big fog – this soon cleared up a bit to make some nice moody photos. It’s kind of like Seattle in a way, but when the fog starts clearing, the mountains are right there on both sides of the passage.

The small blog-sized photos don’t quite translate the same way as a frame at least twice as big, but I’m glad you liked them. The large high-res versions will be up on the PHOTOS sites within the week.


Carol Riebandt September 1, 2011 at 7:14 am

Took this same uncruise two weeks ago and it was the trip of a lifetime! If you go, take additional Bear Observatory trip to AnAn Creek. Unbelieveable! Crew was very knowledgeable & knew your name by the end of the first day. Good food, magnificent scenery and very relaxing. No stuffy folks on our week but shared friendships with people from all over the world. A great memory.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: