Why Does Small Ship Cruising Cost So Much?

Back in March I posted a blog about our Weekend Getways in the San Juan Islands. It wasn’t long, just a couple of paragraphs about what you could see and do in the San Juans. I even tossed in a picture of some cupcakes in the hopes that a delicious chocolate cupcake would help encourage someone to pick up the phone and make a reservation.

I was really happy when I noticed that a friend of mine had posted my blog to her Facebook. What I wasn’t ready for was for one of the comments. The woman commenting said we had a nice tour, but couldn’t believe how much we charged ($695 per person for 3 days and 2 nights.)

Over the summer I’ve been thinking about that comment and the perception of  value. I’ve come to realize that many people base their decision on booking a cruise by how cheap it is. The large cruise ship companies have trained us into believing that cruising is cheap and they reinforce that notion with too-good-to-be-true, heart-stoppingly-low offers; one offer I received last week was for a 7-night cruise in the Caribbean for $399. A 7-night cruise in Alaska on the David B costs $4200.

“So, what do I get on a small ship cruise that’s worth so much more?” you might be asking yourself. Here are a few of the qualities that makes coming aboard the David B for your Alaska cruise worth the price.

Solitude – On the David B you’ll spend your vacation in quiet coves, on remotes beaches, and surrounded by beautiful forests. We stay away from the busy Ports of Call that have their waterfronts obscured with a line-up of  cruise ships each carrying up to 3000 people. On your cruise with us you won’t have that frustrating and crowded feeling of being part of a heard. Instead, you’ll feel immersed in nature with space to breathe and unwind.

Quiet Anchorage
A Quiet Anchoarge in Alaska

Flexible Itineraries – While we do have itineraries, we often make changes to them depending on the weather or new information about wildlife or other things. For instance, a few weeks ago we had a day where we’d planned to go on a hike, but we discovered that there was a pod of orca whales nearby. We asked our group if they wanted to continue on to the hike or head out to see the whales. It was no contest, the whales won. We had an amazing afternoon watching the whales. If we’d been on a fixed schedule, we would have had to ignore the nearby whales and our passengers wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see orcas up close.

More Time with Wildlife – Since we have a flexible schedule, we are able to spend as much time as we want watching wildlife. If we come across a pod of humpback whales bubble feeding, we can stop and watch. If we’re in a kayak cruising along the shore and a bear ambles down to the beach, we can take the time to observe it feeding. At anchor you can sit on deck or in the pilothouse and watch eagles, river otters, bears and deer.

Humpbacks at Admiralty Island
Humpbacks at Admiralty Island

Small Groups – We are limited to six passengers. This makes your cruise more intimate. You can charter the whole boat, or come on a mixed cruise where you’ll have a chance to meet interesting and adventurous people like yourself.

Individualized Attention – When you make your reservation for your cruise on the David B, you’ll be working with us, Christine and Jeffrey,  the owners and operators of the David B and Northwest Navigation Co. Because we do our own booking, we work with all of our passengers to make sure that when you come aboard the David B, it feels like you are coming home.

Gourmet Meals Cooked Especially for You – Each meal you have with us is cooked with you in mind. Every cruise’s menu is different. We also spend a lot of time between trips searching out quality ingredients to prepare our meals with. While we do have favorite meals to make and share with you, I talk with my passengers before they come aboard to get a feel for which of our meals they’ll like the best. To us knowing our passengers better helps us make menus that will keep people coming back year after year.

Loaf of Bread from the MV David B's Wood Cook Stove

Preserving History – By choosing to cruise on the David B, you’re helping to preserve a bit of Alaska’s fishing history. Your reservations makes it possible for us to keep the boat going. Owning and operating a wooden workboat from 1929 is a privileged and it costs us a lot to maintain.  Without passengers like you, the David B and it’s last-of-its kind Washington Iron Works engine would be lost.

Supporting Sustainable Tourism – When you choose to cruise with us, you are making a statement that shows you are committed to small footprint, sustainable tourism, where our goal is for you to have a quality experience.

I hope that when you are thinking of all the options that are available to you for a cruise to Alaska, you’ll keep in mind that, while you can go on a  cruise that is cheap, you could go on a cruise that is extraordinary.