My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Cruise Adventure with InnerSea Discoveries

2010/09/23by Donna Hull

innersea-discoveries-kayakingBaby boomers who crave adventure will find all that and more on an InnerSea Discoveries cruise in Alaska’s Inside Passage. The hiking, kayaking, wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities live up to the company’s tag-line—Indulge Your Adventurous Side.

When InnerSea Discoveries invited us to sail on their un-cruise to experience the active excursions that will be offered on the Eastern Cove itinerary starting in late May 2011, Alan and I said, “Let’s go.”

So, how active was this small ship adventure cruise? Each day, two major excursions were offered along with opportunities to add in paddling around the ship in kayaks and paddle boards or embark on short skiff rides to explore the shoreline. The naturalists who accompanied us were knowledgeable, encouraging and always observant about safety conditions.

With three levels of difficulty for each excursion, InnerSea Discoveries offers opportunities for every active baby boomer to experience wild Alaska. Hardy adventurers push the limit while more moderate explorers, that would be us, find enough adventure to satisfy their inner explorer. Those who want an easier experience are accommodated too.

Are you planning a cruise? Use our Luxury Cruise Travel Planning Guide to begin your research.

innersea-discoveries-excursion-hikingEach night, the ship anchored in secluded pockets on Alaska’s Inside Passage like Windham Bay, Thomas Bay, Ideal Cove, Scenic Cove and Yes Bay. Waking up to the quiet as the early morning mist drifted over the water and through the trees was a photographic adventure in itself.

While more adventurous cruisers took multi- hour kayaking and hiking excursions, Alan and I found kayaking in the still waters of the coves just the right beginning for novice kayakers. In Wyndham Bay, Capt. Sean gave a few instructions then sent us out on our own with the warning, “Stay within sight of the ship.” We practiced paddling skills in between drifting in silence while scouting the shoreline for wildlife.

In Thomas Bay, we hiked above Cascade Creek Falls on a muddy and slightly slippery boardwalk trail. The advanced group attempted a level 3 hike on up the mountain to a lake, returning with tales that convinced me that level two was just where I needed to be. Flexibility to alter the experience was a key ingredient to the excursions. On a hike along the boardwalk of Three Lakes Loop Trail, part of the group turned back after reaching the first lake, while the rest of us continued for a couple of more miles.

innersea-discoveries-baird-glacier-excursionBut I found the glacier experiences the most exciting. We arrived at Baird Glacier by skiff. Walking along the shore provided a glimpse of land being reborn from the glacier’s retreat. Rocks littered the ground as we made our way onto the glacier’s icy surface. At Leconte Glacier, skiff rides took us right next to icebergs for photographic opportunities or to simply observe the giant pieces of ice as naturalists explained their complexity.

Although most of the excursions on InnerSea Discoveries are included, the float plane ride over Misty Fjords we experienced from Yes Bay is an added cost as is the fishing excursions that one of our group took. The sunset whale watching cruise through Frederick Sound? Included and well worth delaying dinner.

If you’re a baby boomer who loves the outdoors, there’s no better way to experience Alaska’s Inside Passage than with InnerSea Discoveries. However, the company’s two vessels—Wilderness Adventurer and Wilderness Discoverer—are adventure ships, which means the accommodations are comfortable but not comparable to mainline cruises. Our luxury-minded boomer readers might want to consider the company’s sister line, American Safari Cruises. The itinerary will be different and the excursions not quite as adventurous, but you’ll experience off-the-beaten path Alaska in luxury.

What would you like to know about our InnerSea Discoveries cruise? Post a question. Alan and I would be happy to tell you more.

Disclosure: The Un-Cruise company (previously American Safari and InnerSea Discoveries) provided this travel experience, but the opinions are our own.

As soon as Alan and I sort photos and produce videos, I’ll be writing more about our hikes and glacier experiences. In the meantime,photos of our InnerSea Discoveries excursions are posted at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook. And, while you’re there, be sure to click the like button.

A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie -Frugal Kiwi September 23, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Sounds fantastic and it is perfect that you can choose the level of adventure you want to experience.


Roxanne Hawn September 23, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Wow! My only question would be broader … like do you think the political climate has soured travel to Alaska or boosted it?


Donna Hull
September 23, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Roxanne, I’m not sure what you mean by political climate. However, cruise tourism plunged this year because several cruise lines pulled ships out of Alaska due to increased fees, taxes and regulations by the state of Alaska. Here’s a link to the story:


Christine September 23, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Sounds like it was a lot of fun! I like that it was a little more rugged and less luxurious.


Donna Hull
September 23, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Since the InnerSea Discoveries ship wasn’t ready yet, we sailed on the more upscale American Safari Quest. But, Capt. Marce of the Wilderness Adventurer sailed with us to explain more about the day to day operation of the InnerSea Discoveries Ships. Dining will be a buffet of healthy, hearty foods. Seating is family style in a room that will have a national park lodge feel to it. The first year, the ship will hold 49 passengers, increasing to 70+ in future years. Buffet meals requires less crew to serve. Capt. Marce was excited about the innovative chef she had just hired. Also, alcoholic beverages will not be inlcuded in the cost of the cruise. But Dan Blanchard, InnerSea Discoveries CEO stated that they would be sold at reasonable prices rather than the gouging that some cruise lines do when selling extras.


EarthGipsy September 24, 2010 at 4:24 am

Looks like a whole lot of fun – my Inner Explorer has put it on her bucket list – thanks!


Kristen September 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Wow, what a way to see Alaska. My mother grew up there so I’ve always wanted to visit. I can’t wait to read/see more.


Sheryl Kraft September 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Sounds like you had quite the adventure. We went a few years ago and I agree, the greatest thrill was standing atop a glacier. It felt absolutely other-wordly!


Anonymous September 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Are the accommodations markedly different on the two different cruises? Or don’t you know, since you were on the posher one? I love your explanation of the trip. I’ve always wanted to do a small ship cruise of Alaska–and as you know, it’s the ONLY cruise I want to do (except maybe the Galapagos.


Donna Hull
September 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Yes, there is a difference in accommodations between the two cruises, along with the price. On the InnerSea Discoveries, cabins are basic but comfortable. Most of the cabins have very small bathrooms with combination toilet/shower. The sink is in the bedroom for all cabins. However, flat panel tv’s, ipod docking stations and temper-Pedic-mattress are included.

On American Safari, you are sailing on yachts, an intimate experience. While they are very nice, I’m not sure that I would call them posh. The cabins are still smaller than mainline cruise ships. The bathrooms include a separate shower and heated floors – a nice touch. I dried my damp socks on the floor every night. On these ships, the sink is located in the bathroom.

Another difference you’ll see is in the food. On American Safari, the food is plated, well-presented and includes prime rib and other higher-end offerings. The alcohol is also included. There’s a low ratio of crew to passenger. Service is, “What do you need? Let me get it for you.” The crew oftentimes thinks of something you need before you do.

On InnerSea Discoveries, the food will be buffet style at every meal. According to Cat. Marce, dining selections will be hearty and healthy. I’m sure the crew will be offering the same friendly service, it seems to be a hallmark of this company. Also, alcohol will be a la carte.

We toured an InnerSea Discoveries ship under renovation. Here’s the post about it:

The photo of one of the cabins included in the post is of the top level cabin.


Stephanie - Wasabimon September 25, 2010 at 5:41 am

My god, Donna. You’ve been EVERYWHERE!


Donna Hull
September 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Not yet, but we’re trying.


Anonymous September 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Hi Donna: Don’t know if I ever told you this, but I’ve NEVER been on a cruise. Some of them just hold no interest for me, but the two that I’d really like to try are a smaller type ship on the Inside Passage, and a Mediterranean sail of Greece, Turkey, Jordan and Israel. Love to talk to these folks about their new smaller adventure ships, if you are willing to share their contact info :=)


Donna Hull
September 27, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Barbara, be looking for an email.


September 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm

glad to hear about smaller ships with more basic accomodations, Donna. I like the flexibility of excursion levels. I’m always up for the really demanding ones, but, thinking that might not hold for every situation, great they offer choices. sounds as though the staffs are welcoming and professional too.

I’m wondering, what is there that you wouldhave liked to be different on this trip? changes or improvements you’d like to see?


Donna Hull
September 27, 2010 at 7:12 pm

One good thing about levels of excursions is that you can go all out
for a day or two then pick something easier as a rest. After all, it
is a vacation :-).


Anonymous September 28, 2010 at 2:38 am

Loved reading about this. I’ve been invited on a similar adventure tour and wondered about just how “adventurous” it might be. Sounds like your trip offered plenty of options!


October 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I love the idea of all these adventurous activities by day and then returning to the comfort of the ship at night – best of all worlds


Donna Hull
October 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Yes, it is the best of both worlds. Plus you only have to unpack once.
My kind of trip.


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