All Inclusive “un-cruise” offers a great opportunity to experience the wilderness of Alaska

DAY 4 ABOARD THE WILDERNESS DISCOVERER — WHALEAFORNIA…

Humpback going on a dive (James H. Long)

We are in Frederick Sound in Southeast Alaska where three water masses converge.

We don’t really care about that but the whales do. We’re surrounded by Humpback whales as they dive and spout water, some no more than a few hundred yards from our small ship, the InnerSea Discoveries  Wilderness Discoverer.

“We plan the itinerary so that we can stop like this,” says our captain, Dano Quinn, who has been piloting vessels in Alaska for the last 16 years.

“You can see Alaska from the big ships and they will take good care of you,” says Second Mate Mike Kellick. “But with us, you can touch Alaska.”

Literally. Because we can kayak from a landing dock on the back of our small ship (there are 64 passengers on board with a maximum of just 78 and a crew of 26) from the boat we can go out for a half hour or two and a half hours.  Last night a group camped so that they could experience camping in the Alaska wilderness. “It was fun,” 12 year old Miller Sinyard reported, even if the crew forgot the graham crackers for the s’mores. “We almost saw a bear,” he said.  “I kind of wish we had.”  I’m sure the adults along were glad they didn’t.

But certainly the whales this morning, as we cruise in Frederick Sound near Turnabout Island, make up for that.  There are dozens out there.  Here for the summer, eating 20 hours a day before they head to Hawaii for the winter.

One of Discoverer’s sister ships Safari Explorer passes by

“The best of Alaska is the wilderness,” Capt. Dano Quinn says, “Not in the towns and we provide the opportunities for that.”

Just as important to the guests, like Debbie Mulligan, traveling with her 28-year-old daughter Kerri, is the chance for the adventures.  “In the first three days, I got to go kayaking, spelunking, snorkeling and hiking,” said Keri, who lives in Boston.  “You can be as active as you like or sit and read a book and relax.”

“There are just too many people on the big ships,” said Debbie Mulligan, who lives on Long Island and has cruised big ships in the Caribbean.  “I don’t mind paying more for this experience.”

Of course by the time you figure out how much you would pay on the big ship for the excursions that we  do daily–the kayaking, the hiking, the skiff rides to see animals—there wouldn’t be much difference in cost, not to mention that we do it at our leisure in the wilderness without hordes of other people.

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