Canada’s Inside Passage Cruise: 12-Day Itinerary
A Small Ship Cruise through The Inside Passage
Cruise Canada’s Inside Passage aboard a 65 foot boat for an expedition-style adventure. Along the way you will be treated to extraordinary scenery and wildlife. From the deck of the David B, you will see a world where waterfalls cascade down the steep walls of fjords carved from long-ago glaciers. Observe orca whales and eagles as they forage for salmon. Life aboard the boat is relaxed. We cruise during daylight hours and anchor in a new location each night so you will be able to fully experience this magnificent landscape.
One of our favorite places to visit is Baker Inlet which has a narrow entrance and can have a lot of current. With careful planning, we enter Baker Inlet’s Watts Narrows at slack water. The video below shows us going through the narrows. You can also hear the distinctive sound of the David B’s original Washington Iron Works 3- Cylinder engine in the background.
Sample Itinerary for Canada’s Inside Passage Cruise – Northbound (Annually in May)
Please note that this is a sample Northbound itinerary from Bellingham, WA to Ketchikan, AK and subject to change.
Scroll down for Southbound Itinerary – Ketchikan, AK to Bellingham, WA.
Bellingham, WA to Sidney, BC (Clear Customs) to Montague Harbour
Your adventure begins in Bellingham around noon. From our dock, we’ll cruise through the San Juan Islands and into Canada. You will have some time to explore the busy custom’s port of Sidney after clearing through customs. Once we leave Sidney, the adventure continues as we will head to Montague Harbour, British Columbia’s first marine park. Hiking on nice trails, bird watching and kayaking are all popular activities. The hike to Active Pass (4 miles) gives a great view of vessel traffic going through one of B.C.’s most exciting marine passes. There is also a shuttle bus to the Hummingbird Pub from the park.
Montague Harbour to Lasqueti Island
From Montegue Harbour we’ll cruise to Lasqueti Island. Along the way we’ll pass through Dodd Narrows and cross the Straits of Georgia. It is a great day for reading books or playing games or just watching the scenery. At the end of the day you have time get out and stretch your legs with a beach walk or explore by kayak.
Lasqueti Island to Desolation Sound
The scenery surrounding Desolation Sound and the anchorage of Prideaux Haven is spectacular. This popular destination has some of the warmest water for swimming on the Canadian west coast. It is also a beautiful spot for kayaking or relaxing.
Desolation Sound to Cameleon Harbour
You’ll really feel like you’re on an expedition as we time our transit of Yucluta and Dent rapids. The slack between the ebb and flood tides is key to our passage to Cameleon Harbour. During a strong tidal current these areas are impassible for most boats with whirlpools and eddies, but during slack the cruise through makes you wonder what all the fuss is about. Once through the two rapids we’ll anchor at Cameleon Harbour. Hiking and kayaking are great ways to explore Cameleon harbour and Thruston Island.
Cameleon Harbour to Pearse Islands
Between Cameleon Harbour and The Pearse Islands you’ll be passing though some of the Northern Resident orca whale’s feeding grounds. We will be keeping an eye open for some of the 16 different pods of whales.
Pearse Islands Anchorage – Codville Lagoon
In the morning we will leave the Pearse Islands. This day is a good day for watching for orca whales and humpback whales. We often see humpbacks, pacific white-sided dolphins and numerous sea birds as we cruise past Cape Caution. In the evening we anchor in the quiet anchorage of Codville Lagoon. This park has a great hike to a wilderness lake that we can take in the morning.
Codville Lagoon to Shearwater
We leave Codville lagoon after our morning hike and lunch and cruise to the small town of Shearwater. Here you can go on a walk through a muskeg or spend time at the town only pub. We often like to spend the night at Shearwater and leave early the next morning.
Shearwater to Bottleneck Inlet
Bottleneck Inlet is the sort of place that is easy to miss. The narrow entrance is all but hidden in the dense forest. Once inside, it opens up and high forested walls that are filled with the haunting spiral calls of Swainson Thrushes and an occasional call of a Barred Owl. You can spend a couple of hours in a kayak paddling along the shore while the curious seals keep you company.
Bottleneck Inlet to Bishops Bay
This is a favorite stop. The hot Springs at Bishops Bay are set just near the shore and make your small ship adventure seem less adventurous. You can look out over the bay while in the outside pool to watch for birds and seals. On occasion humpback whales come into Bishops Bay to feed.
Bishops Bay to Baker Inlet
From Bishops Bay we’ll cruise to the narrow entrance to Baker Inlet is very scenic and the timing must be calculated to get there during slack water, but once inside, the inlet opens up and is a great spot for a long paddle and to watch for bears. Like so many places we visit on our expeditions, this is a place for small ships only. Inside and out-of-sight Baker Inlet is a treasure that few passengers on the big cruise ships even know about. You’ll enjoy knowing that as the ships with three thousand people go by in the main channel, you’re tucked inside a scenic inlet, with no other boats around.
Baker Inlet to Prince Rupert
In the morning we leave Baker Inlet at slack water and head to Prince Rupert. This is our last spot in Canada on your small ship cruise. After clearing customs you will have plenty of time to explore this Northern frontier town. You can visit museums or take a taxi out of town to Butze rapids. Here you can time your walk to be at these tidal rapids during maximum current and to see how much power water has as goes through this narrow opening.
Prince Rupert to Ketchikan
We leave Prince Rupert early in the morning to transit Dixon Entrance and head into Ketchikan. This is our longest day motoring, but we get to enjoying going past some beautiful lighthouses and spend time watching for whales. We arrive in Ketchikan around 5pm.
Sample Itinerary for Canada’s Inside Passage Cruise – Southbound (Annually in August)
Please note that this is a sample itinerary from Ketchikan, AK to Bellingham, WA and subject to change.
Ketchikan to Foggy Bay
Board in Ketchikan at 10:00am. We’ll leave the busy cruise-ship port and make our way to the secluded anchorage of Foggy Bay. Along the way we’ll watch for humpback whales.
Foggy Bay to Prince Rupert
From Foggy Bay we’ll cross Dixon Entrance and make our way to Canada’s Prince Rupert. Here we’ll clear Canada Customs and spend the night at the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club.
Prince Rupert to Lowe Inlet
Beautiful Grenville Channel is in store for you on this day. We’ll watch for bears along the shoreline and bald eagles in old growth forests. In July sockeye salmon begin their migration to their natal streams. Lowe Inlet is often a good place for bear viewing when the salmon are running.
Lowe Inlet to Bishops Bay Hot Springs
We’ll leave Lowe Inlet early and make our way to Bishops Bay Hot Springs via Veerny Passage and Ursula Passage. This scenic route shows high hanging valleys carved by ancient glaciers and impossibly high waterfalls that cascade down the steep fjord walls into deep ocean water
Bishops Bay Hot Springs to Jackson Narrows
After enjoying a soak in the hot springs we’ll get underway and spend the day cruising in Princess Royal Channel. The scenery is high mountains with ribbon-like of waterfalls cutting through exposed rock. Mid-day we’ll make a stop at the abandoned cannery known as Butedale. This unique stop lets you feel the past glory of the fishing industry while its machinery and buildings are being quietly reclaimed by the surrounding forest. In the evening we’ll tuck into a quiet cove near Jackson Narrows.
Jackson Narrows to Sea Otter Cove
Jackson Narrows is a shallow and scenic passage that begins our day. We’ll leave early and make out way to Shearwater for a mid-day stop. Here you can take a walk through the muskeg to marvel at the tiny carnivorous plant called sundew and stunted shore pines. After Shearwater, we’ll continue through Lama Pass and into Fitz Hugh Sound where we’ll spend the night at Sea Otter Cove.
Sea Otter Cove to Beaver Harbour
The day starts early with the crew raising anchor at dawn. We’ll be crossing Queen Charlotte Sound for the first part of the day where we’ll keep our eyes open for humpback whales, sea otters and numerous sea birds. Past Queen Charlotte Sound we’ll begin watching for orca whales. We’ll also be making a stop at Alert Bay where you can enjoy native culture at the U’mista Cultural Centre.
Beaver Harbour to Port Neville
Johnstone Strait is a favorite place for killer whales in the summer months. As we make our way to Port Neville, we’ll be watching for these icons of the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.
Port Neville to Desolation Sound
Our anchorage in Port Neville is a good spot for bear viewing. We’ll keep our eyes open for both grizzly bears and black bears that often come to the beach to feed. Our departure from Port Neville to Desolation Sound depends on time of slack water at Dent and Yuculta Rapids. Once past the rapids, we decide on our night’s anchorage. Von Donop Inlet or Squirrel Cove are both favorites.
We’ll spend another day and night in Desolation Sound. Our day will start with an easy forest walk and a stop at Refuge Cove. After that we’ll make the decision to anchor at either Prideaux Haven or Teneados Harbor.
Desolation Sound to Montegue Harbour
We’ll have breakfast underway as we leave Desolation Sound for the Gulf Islands. We’ll be watching for killer whales and porpoises as we make our way to our evening’s anchorage. If the tides and currents are right, there might even be time for a ride on the Hummingbird Pub Bus once we arrive in Montegue Harbour.
Montegue Harbour (Clear Customs) to Bellingham, WA
We’ll be leaving Canada and entering the US at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. After clearing customs, there will be time to explore Roche Harbor’s shops, gardens and outdoor sculpture garden. Once back on board we’ll make our way through the scenic San Juan Islands to Bellingham where we’ll arrive around 5pm at our dock in Squalicum Harbor.