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Bear viewing at Pack Creek - David B Small Ship CruisesWe have two available last-minute spaces on Trip # 376 – Alaska’s Inside Passage with Pack Creek Bear Viewing. This is an amazing trip filled with tidewater glaciers, whales, hiking, and kayaking. The highlight of the trip is a visit to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area, a special location on Admiralty Island, known as Kootsnoowoo  (meaning Fortress of the Bear) by the Tlingit. This area was set up by the US Forest Service for visitors to watch brown (grizzly) bears in the wild. It’s also one of our favorite places, and spring is one of the best times to watch bears do their bear things. Love is in the air and getting to watch brown bear courtship is better than any soap opera.

These spaces are open to anyone who is or will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the time of sailing.

Dates: May 18-25, 2021
Departs: Juneau, AK
Disembarks: Petersburg, AK
Available Cabin: Keta with 2 extra long twin bunks and private ensuite head
Cost: Regularly $6800. Now special price: $4760 per person

We hope to see you aboard the David B!

Christine

PS – If you have any questions about any of our trips in Alaska, the San Juan Islands, or the Inside Passage, send Sarah an email or give her a call at 360-474-7218.

PPS – Also, if you would like a private tour of the David B contact Sarah to schedule an appointment for our spring Open Boat is this weekend, April 10 or 11.  Each appointment will 30 minutes with a 15-minute gap between appointments. The maximum group size will be 5 and masks will be required.

Sign me up, Sarah!

Bear watching on Alaska CruiseSo, you hear about the once in a lifetime trip your friends took to Alaska on the David B… Or maybe you are searching about small ship cruises to Alaska and find our website… Or you are reading Outdoor Photography magazine and see one of our ads.

Eventually, you click on “Contact Us” and sign up for our newsletter to find out more about the David B and its crew.

Then one day, Christine’s photos of Alaska’s wilderness and a witty article about a previous trip from Jeffrey seals the deal and you get excited enough to book a trip.

What do you do next?
Say “Sign me up, Sarah!”

Here’s how it works. I’m Sarah, and let me take you through what you can expect in terms of making a reservation with us and what it’s like working with me, “shore support” for the David B.

I take the reservations (as well as serve as cat staff to Harriet and Oswald (Jeffrey and Christine’s cats,)Shore support David B Cruises while the David B is in Alaska during the summers.) It’s my pleasure to answer the questions you have about our trips. I’m even more delighted when someone I am communicating with signs up.

So when you say, “Sign me up, Sarah!” the first step is the deposit. I’ll send you an email invoice to pay. We take payments through QuickBooks online. This way I don’t have access to your credit card information and it’s all on their secure server.

Once we receive your reservation deposit, I’ll send you our Welcome Letter. It highlights all the details of your trip so you can start planning your flights and hotels. Of course, I am always happy to answer your questions with suggestions about side trips and what to do if you plan to stay a few extra days in port before or after your trip.

Shag Cove in Glacier Bay - David B CruisesThen things are pretty quiet after that for a while. I’ll probably do some knitting or play with Harriet.

When your trip is a little over 90 days away, I’ll contact you again with a reminder that your final payment is due. You can pay online again or send us a check if that’s more convenient. If you make your reservation less than 90 days before the trip sails, then you would have paid in full at that time.

Again 6 weeks out, I’ll be in touch to make sure we have all of your Health and Liability forms filled out. This is where you can tell us your food allergies, special diets or what interests you most about your upcoming trip so we can customize the adventure just for you.

As your trip approaches, the emails become more frequent with a trip reminder two weeks out making sure your flights are confirmed, and finally a few days beforehand to make sure you know how to find the boat on the day of your trip.

On the day of a trip, even though I’m not there, I’m just as excited as you are! However, my job isn’t finished yet. Merch for David B cruisesAfter I get a text from Jeffrey that everyone has arrived at the boat safely, boarded, and you are underway I usually don’t hear anything, but I am available to the crew throughout the trip – just in case.

After your trip, I’ll send you an invoice for any David B Gear you purchased to take home such as a book, coffee mug or sweatshirt. And finally, I’ll send a post-trip survey to find out how we did.

So if this has made you interested in signing up with us, don’t hesitate to contact me and say “Sign me up, Sarah!”

Stay safe and stay well,
Sarah

PS – If you have any questions about any of our trips in Alaska, the San Juan Islands, or the Inside Passage, send me an email or give me a call at 360-474-7218.

PPS – Also, if you would like a private tour of the David B contact me to schedule an appointment for our spring Open Boat on the afternoons of  April 10 or 11 from 2-6pm.  Each appointment will 30 minutes with a 15-minute gap between appointments. The maximum group size will be 5 and masks will be required.

How Will COVID-19 Affect My Trip?

As the calendar turned from 2020 to 2021 we started asking ourselves more often what the new seasonCovid Policy David B Cruises will look like in terms of COVID-19 precautions and policies. We feel that the virus is still a moving target and it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. Our hopes are that the vaccination rollout will gain momentum and the vast majority of us will be vaccinated soon. For now, we are keeping our COVID-19 policies in place. You can visit our COVID-19 policy page for more information. In the meantime, here’s what we’re working on making sure that travel aboard the David B, while the coronavirus is still an issue, is as safe as possible.

 

Here’s what travel will likely look like this summer:
Rescheduling: You may still reschedule a trip due to COVID without penalty, but only one more time for folks who scheduled in 2020 and just once for folks who schedule with us in 2021. We plan to return to our regular cancelation policy when vaccines become widespread. We anticipate this will happen in late summer or early fall.
Pre-Travel Preparations: We are still asking folks to take extreme caution prior to their trip through quarantine, mask-wearing, and proper hygiene. You will need to provide proof of a negative test that was taken no more than 72 hours prior to boarding. We are also looking into the possibility of requiring a second rapid test that will be administered just prior to boarding. Because it is still unknown if a vaccinated person can spread the virus we will be looking to the CDC guidelines to see if vaccinated people can skip testing or if we will need to require testing for those folks as well.
Vaccinations: Like many small and large businesses in tourism, we would like to require vaccinations for all of our passengers. However, there may be many legal implications, and there simply may not be enough vaccinations available until later spring or early summer.
Your crew, Jeffrey and Christine, will become eligible for their vaccinations in February or late March in Washington state according to the current vaccination timeline. It is our intention that the crew will be vaccinated prior to the season beginning.
Canada: Our north and southbound Learn to Cruise trips that run through Canada may have to be modified depending on when the border is open to non-essential travel. Last year Canada Customs had us stop and Alaska Scenerydo a health check. We were then given permission to anchor if needed due to any weather or mechanical issues. No one was allowed to get off the boat for any reason. If this continues to be the case, our plan is to cruise up the Inside Passage in 4-6 days possibly running 24/7 and anchoring only if necessary. Once we cross the border into Alaska, we will make up the remaining days by cruising in Misty Fjords National Monument. It’s a good time of year for bear viewing, and with the reduction of cruise ships, Misty Fjords will be quiet, remote, and stunningly beautiful. We will be monitoring this closely and will likely know in March if the border will be open in late April when we leave to go north.
Alaska: Alaska’s Health Mandate for interstate travel is still in effect and requires that all travelers arriving in Alaska must take a test at least 72 hours prior to arrival in Alaska, have proof of a negative test, and fill out a health declaration. For our Northbound Learn to Cruise trip that ends in Ketchikan, Alaska allows us to count our days underway as quarantine days after people board in Bellingham with their COVID-19 negative test.
Hotels/Taxis: Last season, in an effort to protect the communities from potential exposure we asked that passengers arrive at the David B on the day of the trip and we then picked everyone up at the airport with the exception of Petersburg where taxi service or walking was acceptable. We are still working out whether this will be necessary for 2021.
What ifs: If you or another guest arrives aboard the David B and begins showing symptoms of COVIDDavid B Small Cruise Ship in Fords Terror-19, you will be isolated in your cabin and the trip will end. We will return to the dock and you will be required to quarantine in a hotel at your own expense until you test negative.
Like you, we are so tired of the virus and can’t wait for it to be a memory, but while we wait for that day, we’ll continue to work hard to make sure we are doing everything we can to make your trip safe. We’ll continue to update you about changes. If you have any questions about travel this year aboard the David B, please call or email Sarah. She’s great at fielding your questions.
We look forward to seeing you on the David B!

Plotting a Course

Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship Cruises“So, what if…,” has been the beginning of most of our conversations as we search for signs of when we’ll be able to start our season. Since we operate in two US states and a Canadian province, we’re constantly monitoring the orders of Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia looking for news of when we can fire up the engine and get underway.

Over the last few days it feels like there are some encouraging signs. The cases of coronavirus in Washington state have plateaued. There are some cautious steps being taken to ease some of our restrictions. It’s also been encouraging to see that some airlines are requiring people to wear masks, which is something we hope will become widespread in the coming weeks and months. As each day passes, the smart people in labs are learning more and more about how this virus works. It’s good to hear that new treatments are being tried and possible vaccines being developed.

So, what if…

Until there’s a vaccine, we are all going to have to adapt to life with a new and dangerous disease. It means we’ll do things differently and more cautiously. How will that happen? Here are some of the things that we’re monitoring:

  • The lifting of travel restrictions in Alaska, Washington, and Alaska.
  • The lifting of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all people arriving in Alaska.
  • The possible seasonality of the virus.
  • The ability to perform more testing.
  • The need for pre-travel health screenings and waivers.
  • The requirement to wear masks on flights and in public spaces.
  • The continued social distancing rules.
Last week when our scheduled departure date came and went, my heart ached. I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes in the movie, Winged Migration, where a grandmotherly woman, wearing a scarf on her head, watches a flock of cranes in a field. As the birds take flight, she stands with her arms at her sides. However, her wrists flick involuntarily in a wing-like motion. It gets me every time. Like the old woman, I see the cranes carry my dreams on their wings. I want to fly with them. I want to go where they go.Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship Cruises
So what if we will be able to salvage the latter part of this season — either with the schedule we have or a modified schedule? However it works, we’re plotting a course for the future by working on safety protocols so we may still operate with passengers, who are comfortable traveling during this time. That way, if there is a chance to safely get underway and do what we love to do, we’ll be ready.

So, what if…?

Stay safe. Stay well,

Christine

In the Heart of the Storm

Sunset ClearningI thought about this story the other day and about its parallels with our current situation:

A little story about a Wild Wind Storm

We have a little saying about the weather forecasts along the border that the Canadians always seem to predict too much wind and the Americans are always late. Sadly it doesn’t fit into a nice rhyme like “red skies at night… “ but if the American forecast is for windy by lunch, you better be ready by breakfast.

We were on our way through the San Juan Islands on our way to Victoria, Canada on a September trip a few years ago. Our guests were a family that has done multiple trips with us over the years. We anchored at Orcas Island for the night, then planned to go on to Victoria the next day. The forecast: drizzle and calm overnight, then clearing and windy the following late afternoon.

“Perfect,” I thought. “We’d be into Vic by noon and tied up before it blows.”

We got up early. Still drizzle and low clouds and still the same forecast from both countries. We weighed anchor and headed west, still in the calm. I started to wonder if the forecasts were going to be wrong. The Canadians had predicted a gale for the afternoon, but everything was still glassy. The Americans had said “late afternoon.” Then it began to clear and that’s when the wind came up.

“It’s just barely 09:00” I remember thinking, “this wasn’t supposed to happen until late afternoon.”

It was behind us at a steady 30 with higher gusts and building. The white caps were getting blown off the tops of the waves. I remember thinking how I always love the look of the sea on brilliantly blue really windy days like this, even as it gets more and more uncomfortable.

Victoria wasn’t looking like such a good idea. If San Juan Channel already had this much wind, the Straits of Juan de Fuca where it’s much more open and exposed would be way worse. We tucked into Roche Harbor. As we turned into the harbor we came face to face with the wind, now easily well over 40 with higher gusts. We tried to anchor, but with the gusty winds, we couldn’t get the anchor to set. We finally had better luck in an out of the way shallow corner of the harbor. It was easily blowing 50 and it wasn’t even 10:00.

Then the fun began. As we sat safely anchored, we listened to the VHF radio while call after call was made to the Coast Guard for help. A barge broke loose from its towboat, a dock came loose from its pilings complete with all the boats tied to it and washed ashore, windsurfers were unaccounted for, and more, so much so that the Coast Guard radio operator even sounded at one point like he might break down and cry. It was pretty-much continuous mayhem until dinnertime, but like most fall weather in the San Juans, it only lasted that day, and the next morning we left on a bright, sunny, calm ride to Victoria.

We were tied up by noon.

With gratitude,
Jeffrey

Getting Underway From Kynoch Inlet

Every year on our way to Alaska, we do a 12-day cruise up the Inside Passage for people who are interested in learning how to cruise the Inside Passage. There’s so much to see and we really only scratch the surface of British Columbia’s coastal beauty.  Kynoch Inlet is one of our favorite destinations. It’s remote, wild and secluded. It’s a perfect place to find solitude. Here’s a short time-lapse of us getting underway from Kynoch Inlet in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. To learn more about this trip visit our Learn to Cruise Page.

Ice Spires of Lamplough Glacier

There’s a short walk next to Lamplough Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park where, if you take the time you’ll get to appreciate the slow march of glacial history written into the accumulated layers of ancient snowfalls.

This photo was from July 2019 on our Glacier Bay with AdventuresNW Magazine’s Photography Workshop. To learn more about this cruise in 2020, click here…

Time-Lapse into the Back of Fords Terror

Fords Terror is, hands-down, one of our favorite locations. We often anchor there in a bowl that is surrounded by 2000-3000 foot high sheer cliff walls with mature spruce and hemlock trees clinging to the seemingly soilless rock. It’s a place where the rain and waterfalls and icebergs create mystical scenes as ravens and eagles fly overhead. Our usual anchorage is amazing, but as always for us, there might be something more just around the corner. At Fords Terror that something more is just on the other side of a narrow constriction and some reversing tidal rapids.

On most trips, we take our guests through the narrows in the skiff. We plan to ride the current in before the tidal floodwater reaches it’s highest high for the day and becomes still before the current changes to an outgoing ebb. We typically spend a couple of hours skiffing around, looking at waterfalls, amazing geology, and sometimes even bears. Then, we’ve always come out on the ebbing current. Jeffrey had always wanted to take the David B into the back, and spend the night. He was curious to see and experience Fords Terror at both high tide and low tide and to see how the back of Fords Terror’s beauty changed over the course of a day. It was so magical that we did something we don’t often do, we decided to spend, not one night but two nights at anchor there. Below is a short time-lapse video of us going into Fords Terror. We hope you enjoy it.

Getting out with your images – Podcast with Photographer Matt Meisenheimer

Matt Meisenheimer photography workshop cruise and toursThe David B is a fantastic platform for photography, and some of our favorite cruises are our Photography Workshops in both Alaska and the San Juan Islands. As part of our Northwest Navigation Podcast, we interviewed photography instructor and nature photographer Matt Meisenheimer about what has shaped him as a photographer and some of his favorite photo adventures.

Matt will be leading our Alaska Fjords Photography Workshop this July – Trip #340. Be sure to check out our Schedule Page for dates, rates, availability, and discounts for this cruise and workshop.

 

Northwest Navigation Podcast - Pack Creek Bears Listen: Getting out with your images – Northwest Navigation Website

Listen: Getting our with your images – iTunes

Listen: Getting out with your images – Spotify

Listen: Getting out with your images – Google

About Matt: Matt is a Wisconsin based photographer. His artistry revolves around exploring the wilderness and constantly seeking new adventures. He strives to capture brief moments of dramatic light and weather. Matt loves the process of photography — from planning trips and scouting locations to taking the shots in-field, and post-processing the final image.

Scroll down to view some of Matt’s images:

 

Ice Cave - Matt Meisenheimer Photography

Two Bears Play Fighting - Matt Meisenheimer Photography

Matt Meisenheimer Photography - Alaska landdscape

Boots Off the Ground – Podcast

A small cruise ship at anchor in the Inside Passage
David B at anchor in the Inside Passage – May 2018.

One of the benefits of running the David B is getting to meet people and develop friendships with so many who have traveled with us. Some friendships are long-distance and we keep in touch through email or social media. Some of our David B friends are nearby. We see them in the neighborhood pub or grocery store in the off-season. Some of our David B friends encourage us to come and visit them at their homes in the winter and late fall when we are not operating the boat. That happened last week when we got to visit with Bill G., who came with us our Learn to Cruise trip last May. While we were enjoying Bill and Andi’s amazing hospitality we sat down to talk with Bill about his experience aboard the David B. You can listen to our conversation in the latest episode of our Podcast.

 

 

Northwest Navigation Podcast - Pack Creek BearsListen: Boots Off the Ground