Home THE JOURNEY Cruise A Supervoyage Rooted in Conservation: Southeast Alaska’s Longest Small Ship Expedition

A Supervoyage Rooted in Conservation: Southeast Alaska’s Longest Small Ship Expedition

If you go all the way to Alaska, some say, spend as much time in its grand nature as possible. If that’s your philosophy, then eco-expedition cruise operator Maple Leaf Adventures has the trip for you. They’ve just extended their Alaska Supervoyages for 2023, which are the region’s longest expeditions.

Big changes to these small-ship trips – aboard a heritage tugboat with a century of history on the coast – include an extra 24 hours in nature, from extra shore trips and wildlife viewing, plus one more night at anchor in a beautiful cove.

The 13-day itineraries maximize exploration of Alaska’s nature, culture and wildlife. Maple Leaf Adventures is a coastal ecotourism company that donates 1% of revenues to conservation, including to the Alaska Whale Foundation, its newest donation recipient. (Some trips visit with AWF researchers, too.)

“It’s astonishing to reflect that although millions of people visit Alaska, the tiniest percentage spends their trip in Alaska’s natural world,” said Maureen Gordon, one of Maple Leaf Adventures owners. “As a coast-owned and operated ecotourism company, we celebrate the ecosystems that give us such incredible natural abundance, and let people become part of that big natural world for their trip.”

In a world without roads, Maple Leaf guides just twelve guests through the breadth of the Inside Passage, from historic Ketchikan, to glacier-hewn fjords, to Admiralty Island’s rugged terrain and brown bears, the waterfall-fed Baranof Island, and the diverse ecology of Chichagof Island and the west-coast world of Sitka.

Typical wildlife sightings include brown bears, humpback whales and sea otters in their natural habitat. Shore trips include rainforest walks, iceberg boat rides, beach exploration, hot springs and wildlife viewing. Guests get exclusive access to Pack Creek, a remote sanctuary for brown bears. On land days in Sitka or Ketchikan, guests meet local guides, and visit cultural and culinary experiences such as Hump Island Oyster & Kelp Farm and locally owned cafes. Indigenous cultural guides also interpret their Tlingit culture that dates back to time immemorial.

Maple Leaf’s itineraries also ensure money supports the economies of local communities. Southeast Alaska’s vibrant port towns are building back after the pandemic; Maple Leaf proudly re-supplies its ships in these towns, with each trip injecting a large percentage of revenues directly into local organizations.

Guests travel aboard the 88-foot, converted tugboat Swell. With just six cozy cabins, guests are close to the action and even to the life-giving ocean itself. Built in 1912 from Pacific Northwest lumber, she spent her life as an icons of the coastal world, towing steel, log booms, goods, and barges through the channels of the Inside Passage. With a modest 12-foot draft, Swell is able to access areas where the big cruise ships dare not sail, anchor overnight and travel at just nine knots, suitable for slow travel.