When You Cruise – Are You Mainsteam or Are You Backstream?


M/V David B

The M/V David B Underway

I was thinking today, as I often do, about the trips we offer on the David B, and who is likely to book a cruise in Alaska on a cool old wooden boat that was built in 1929.  Hmmm, I thought to myself, I guess there are really just two kinds of people who go on a cruise. The Mainstream folks and the Backstream folks. “What do you mean by that?” you might ask. Well, we’re all familiar with Mainstream cruises. They’re the behemoth floating hotels with restaurants, bars, theater shows, and several thousand people hurrying from port to port, so that their passengers can buy more T-shirts at their company owned stores. But what about Backstream? What’s that? Simply put, the definition of backstream is: a current that runs against the main current of a stream.  And that’s how I like to think about the people who come cruising on the David B.

Iceburg on a Beach Walk

Iceburg on a Beach Walk

To me, the Backstream travelers are the kind of people who’s ideal cruise is something that few are willing to take the time to find. They like to buck the trends and go out-of-their-way for something that satisfies their curiosity. If you’re a Backstream traveler, we know you’ve already looked at all the glitzy mega-ship ads, and you were disappointed by how little time you got to spend in the wilderness, and how many other distractions the cruise ship companies offered. How do we know this? Well because, so many of our passengers have told us how much they appreciated that we anchor at night, and that we take them ashore so they can photograph flowers, track bears, touch sea lettuce and taste bull kelp. They love that I cook every meal for them on a wood-cook stove, and that I’ve worked with them long before they ever set foot on the David B so that when we do meet, we feel like old friends.

Mainstream Cruise Ship

Mainstream Cruise Ship in a Hurry

Our cruises, on the M/V David B are designed for the curious, the active, and the adventurous who share the desire to know more, do more, and see more in ways that can never be reproduced by the mainstream cruise ship companies. What we offer you, the Backstream traveler, is the hidden beauty of places like Tracy Arm/Fords Terror Wilderness and Admiralty National Monument. We flow against the mainstream by taking small groups of six, (not thousands) on a beautifully restored classic workboat, to some of the most beautiful places you can imagine. Instead of cruising from port to port while you sleep, we’ll bring you to the wild and scenic places where you’ll truly experience Alaska. On the David B, it’s what’s between the ports that’s important.  When you book an Alaskan adventure with us, you can immerse yourself in the solitude of nature while you wander along a beach that was built by a glacier, or explore endless shorelines by kayak in search of the famous Coastal Grizzlies.

Our cruises are not for everyone. They are active, adventurous, and for the curious. We don’t have a dance clubs, or a movie theaters, and the only shopping you’ll do is at the beginning or end of the trip. In fact the only thing we really have in common with the mainstream cruise lines, is that we hope you’ll by a T-shirt from us.  What we do offer to those who want to explore the backstreams, are unique experiences and amazing anchorages where you can enjoy the dramas of nature unfold as humpback whales spout, bald eagles soar, and brown bears forage; all this from the deck of the Motor Vessel David B.

Here’s a fun tongue-in-cheek video we did that highlights the difference between mainstream cruise lines and what we do on the David B. I hope you enjoy!


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5 Must See Out-of-the-Way Places in Southeast Alaska NYT and Sunset Magazine Love the San Juan Islands and Bellingham
5 Must See Out-of-the-Way Places in Southeast Alaska
NYT and Sunset Magazine Love the San Juan Islands and Bellingham

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