Unique small ship cruises in the sheltered inside passage of SE Alaska, British Columbia, and the San Juan Islands of Washington aboard the historic wooden vessel M/V Catalyst. A larger cruise ship alternative...smaller more intimate, active.
Cruising The Inside Passage - A week aboard the Pacific Catalyst II
-by Serine Halverson, Alaska Magazine
Down to a Science
-by Kristal Seeden , Sea Magazine
Warning, a Wooden Boat Can Change Your Life
-Amanda Neal, Galley Essentials, 48° North
Wild Blue Wander: Aboard the M/V Catalyst, Alaska's Inside Passage serves as spectacualr backdrop for the rustic adventure and fine food.
-Coastal Living Magazine
North to Alaska: Exploring Nature's Wonders by
Boat and Kayak
-Lisa Alpine, Pacific Sun
Alaska at eye level
-Christine Hemp, Boston Globe
The Last Frontier
- Neil Rabinowitz, Motorboat & Sailing
Pacific Catalyst offers small ship adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest. Our focus is to provide our guests a uniquely authentic experience that will provide a life time of memories. Our itineraries are carefully crafted to showcase the very best of each region in which we operate. We love being able to introduce our guests to places we have discovered over our years of exploration. On our classic vessel, a literal one of a kind, we are able to provide the perfect conveyance for a return to the age of exploration.
Our warm interior, with it's decades old varnished wood paneling, heavy beamed ceilings and glowing mahogany trim and furniture takes us back to a time when craftsmanship was the rule rather than the exception. The slow pulse of our original 1932 Washington Diesel engine, the only one like it in the world, makes Catalyst a living creature, with a strong iron heart. We use large battery banks that allow us to go for 12 hours without starting an engine to disrupt the quiet solitude that is at the core of a Pacific Catalyst trip. Why invest in a trip that feeds only a few of your senses? Why not spend what may be your one trip to Alaska being able to fully embrace; not just the sights that every guest on every big cruise ship will see, but also the cliff rimmed coves, the stunningly silent and calm anchorages where the only sounds are nesting Guillemots, or the explosive breaths of passing Humpback whales? Why not travel on a vessel that will stop for hours, engines off, drifting with an inquisitive Humpback who is intent on making eye contact with us? Instead of going off your diet for your vacation, why not find out how amazingly delicious healthy food can be?
Please join us, we would love to meet you, hear your stories and share ours. Our lives are about sharing with you the Pacific Northwest waters that we love so much. We are one of the very few boats operating in the PNW that are true family operations. We are totally and completely committed to making your vacation the best experience it can be.
A trip aboard the M/V Catalyst to wild Southeast Alaska reveals a world of dramatic landscapes and geological rawness, softened by the verdant temperate rainforest. From tiny island habitats...to sparkling glacial fjords and road less villages; they are all woven together by an intricate network of waterways. The myriad islands and imposing coastal mainland, still rising from the sea, form a natural invitation to exploration and adventure.
The largest old-growth forest in the nation, the Tongass, carpets more than a thousand off-shore islands. High peaks tower majestically near living ice fields just miles from shore. Thousands of miles of rivers and streams tumble down mountains and out from beneath glaciers. (Misty Fjords do not usually include a tidewater glacier). The highest densities of brown bears and bald eagles in the world are found here. Wolves, foxes, martens, beavers and even moose also make this pristine wilderness their home. The sea teems with life not often seen elsewhere. Humpback and orca whales abound, and playful Dall’s porpoises delight in games with visiting vessels. The roaring of sea lions can be heard for miles. Beneath the tides, bioluminescence beckons while colorful and bizarre creatures sway to its mysterious light. Inaccessible to most, the wonders of this vast wilderness are brought closely to hand for the Catalyst. Built in 1932 by the University of Washington for oceanic research, the 75 ft wooden vessel, with its original diesel engine, invites you into the past, where no roads intrude, to explore misty fjords carved by glaciers, to kayak into sheltered coves while bear watch from the shore, to eat dinner on the beach while listening to the sound of humpbacks breathing as their breath glistens in the setting sun, and to be amazed by the power and sound of glaciers calving.
Southeast Alaska: Glacier Bay: Springtime Emergence Glacier Bay (Juneau to Juneau) Even though the large cruise ship companies focus much of their advertising efforts on their visits to Glacier Bay, there exist many bays, inlets and coves from which no large ships can be seen. It seems ironic that the big guys spend so many thousands of dollars extolling the beauties of the area, and then come and go so quickly, spending only a few hours in what seems to be their keystone location. We take a different approach; we spend days rather than hours in Glacier Bay, we walk through meadows that aren't even visible from the decks of the big ships, where we add our footprints to those of bears, moose and wolves. We meander from cove to cove, seldom seeing another vessel, seldom sharing our quiet anchorages. However, the hyperbole used in cruise ship promotions is deserved; Glacier Bay is one of the most unique places in the world, and a visit should be on all of our life lists. No other place has the variety of animals that are so easily seen from our decks. Spring warmth brings bears out from hibernation, and they quickly seek the early growing grasses and sedges that fill the estuaries. Mountain Goats move to sea level to graze on the first alder and willow shoots that emerge from the cliff clinging shrubs. Moose add their presence to the valleys, and wolves patrol it all looking for food for the seasons pups. Of course we will still see the signature Glaciers themselves, and spend time watching as they yield their leading edges to the sea. All in all, Glacier Bay is not to be missed, and early spring is the best time to see it.
Southern Inside Passage: Voyage of Discovery: North Bound 14 Days: Friday Harbor WA to Juneau, AK /South Bound: Great Bear Rainforest 12 Days: Along the British Columbia Coastline between Ketchikan, AK and Friday Harbor, WA
Imagine a 1000-mile saltwater corridor that twists through narrow channels and wanders among countless thousands of islands from Puget Sound in the south to glacier fjords of Southeast Alaska in the north. A voyager could spend several lifetimes wandering from anchorage to anchorage, and never stay in the same one twice. The rich (and recent) history of the Inside Passage adds to its indescribable natural beauty. All of the early explorers, Russian, Spanish, English and American explorers were here in waves through the past three hundred years. Some found what they sought, some answered questions that had yet to be asked, and others failed utterly. The myths and lives of native people weave their magic through it all. The M/V Catalyst invites you to make your own voyage of discovery along this singular ocean pathway. Our historic vessel, with her original, slow-turning diesel engine, easily invokes those earlier ships. It is easy to imagine that John Muir occupies the adjacent cabin and that you are accompanying him on one of his trips north. Together you are traveling aboard one of the many small coastal steamers that plied these waters for 100 years, serving as the cords that tied the scattered settlements of the Northwest coast together even just 50 years ago. We will transit the narrow “back-roads” of the Southern Inside Passage and northbound we will also visit some our favorite places in SE Alaska before reaching Juneau. Tide and weather will set our itinerary, just as it did for those who went before. Traveling only during the daylight, and finding a different protected anchorage each evening, and moving at 7 1/2 knots, we will have time to "read along" with the many narratives from earlier explorers that we have in our ships library.
San Juan Islands: Island Reflections: Endless Discoveries Excursions Friday Harbor to Friday Harbor
Watching bald eagles soar overhead, observing pods of dolphins and orcas at close range, hiking on forested islands, relaxing on deck after a perfect day of sea kayaking--these are some of the delights of this journey by classic wooden vessel and sea kayak into the magnificent isles of the Pacific Northwest. We travel aboard the 75-foot M/V Catalyst, exploring on foot and by sea kayak each day and returning each evening to our “mother ship” for tasty Pacific Northwest cuisine and the comfort of a cozy cabin. Our journey begins in the Friday Harbor and traces a route through the idyllic San Juan Islands, a wildlife paradise nestled in the sheltered, sunny eastern side of mountainous Vancouver Island. With our inspiring naturalist and sea kayaker, we paddle through waterways used by fish, marine mammals and birds alike, examine kaleidoscopic tide pools, hike in mystical forests of fir, cedar, and sword ferns, and learn about the vibrant legends of the Coast Salish people who lived here for thousands of years as well as the history of the more recent explorers. Our voyages are set for the lovely autumn season, when the fall foliage is in its full glory or in the glories of spring time awakening when endless discoveries beckon us. We are also available for whole boat charter in spring and fall.
MV Catalyst is available for whole boat custom charters, as well as offering its itineraries as individual cabins and whole boat charters. We travel with no more than 12 passengers and a two to four person crew.
An alternative to Cruise West or other larger cruise ship experiences.
Pacific Catalyst II, Inc. is authorized to operate in the Tongass National Forest and Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve by special use permits from the USDA Forest Service and the National Park Service. We also have arranged protocol agreements with the First Nations in British Columbia.