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Alaska Small Ship Cruise

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Surpassed Expectations: Sitka to Petersburg on M/V Westward

A Guest’s Review on TripAdvisor

I’m chuckling as I write this. I just took a look at a mailing from one of those mega cruise lines in which they describe their Alaska and Inside Passage cruise for 930 people. No, thank you. I grew up in a community about that size and don’t consider traveling with a small town a vacation.

We’d been talking about taking an Alaskan cruise for over 4 years and finally did it this past August. Sitka to Petersburg. We wanted a cruise experience that would equal the small ship cruise we took on the Amazon a few years ago. The 8 days and 7 nights we spent on the M/V Westward surpassed all expectations. The crew, the places we visited, the chef-prepared meals, and the experiences we had are the reasons I’d recommend the M/V Westward to anyone who wants an intimate Alaskan travel adventure.

MV Westward and humpback whales feedingThe ship is a lovingly restored and beautifully maintained 86-foot motorized wooden yacht with a history dating back to the 1920s. I was concerned about the possibility of seasickness, but shouldn’t have been. The ship quietly glides through the inner waterways of Alaska guided by Captain Bill Bailey who has years of experience traveling the bays and crossings. More than once, we changed our course to avoid weather and waves. Our trip included 6 guests plus a crew of 3 with plenty of room for everyone to have their own space. The fireplace in the wood-paneled salon/library and the back deck for dining and taking in the sights were perfect for our boat full of travel and reading enthusiasts.

The cabins are cozy, yet comfy, and each has its own bathroom. Many of the vintage fixtures are true to the boat’s history. And the bed surprised me—though smaller than ours at home, it was every bit as comfortable.

Our crew of 3 included the ship’s Owner/Captain Bill, Chef/First Mate Tracie and Naturalist/Photographer Caroline. All are professional and very personable. They know their stuff and know how to make travelers feel at home.

Foodies, take note: the meals are extraordinary. Breakfast, lunch and a 3-course dinner (with wine pairings) are planned and prepared daily onboard by Chef Tracie using ingredients from her rooftop garden, a mid-trip produce rowboat delivery from an organic grower, and a bottomless pantry. Tasty. Creative. Healthy. We often stopped by the kitchen to visit with Tracie. We were told she happily adapts her menus to meet individual needs and wants—vegan, gluten-free, allergies, “I don’t like”—but we were easy to please.

The experience: We took this trip because we hoped to see Alaskan wildlife while kayaking and hiking. We were not disappointed and learned a lot. Naturalist Caroline is a walking encyclopedia of Alaskan flora, fauna and other interesting stuff. We visited two salmon hatcheries; cruised up to Le Conte Glacier; hiked through lush green rain forests; saw black bears, brown bears, salmon, Bald Eagles, humpback and Orca whales, seals and sea lions, otters and a mysterious mink. And they weren’t just specs on the horizon; we saw them without binoculars!

As a farewell souvenir, we received a thumb drive in a wooden case digitally documenting the trip. It features a custom slide show of Caroline’s trip photos and those of guests, our itinerary with an annotated map of the places visited and wildlife seen, 8 days of menus with food photos, plus other trip details. Thank you, Bill, Tracie and Caroline.

– pfwriterks | TripAdvisor