- Photo Tours
- Carnival Breeze – Exotic Eastern Caribbean
- Carnival Freedom – Western Caribbean
- Carnival Miracle – Mexican Riviera
- Carnival Pride – Bahamas from Baltimore
- Coral Princess – Ultimate Alaska with Cruise Experts Travel
- Cuba Cruise Louis Cristal – Cuba
- MSC Divina – Eastern Caribbean
- Norwegian Breakaway – Christening
- Norwegian Epic – Eastern Caribbean
- Norwegian Pearl – Alaska RT Seattle
- Quantum of the Seas – Preview Cruise
- Zuiderdam – Alaska Inside Passage
- Hurtigruten FRAM – Antarctica
- Hurtigruten Midnatsol – North Cape
- Passing Cloud – BC’s Gulf Islands
- Passing Cloud – Haida Gwaii
- S.S. Legacy – Columbia & Snake Rivers
- Safari Endeavour – Alaska’s Glacier Country
- Safari Voyager – Mexico’s Sea of Cortes
- Schooner Zodiac – Brew Cruise 2013
- Schooner Zodiac – Wine Cruise
- Silver Discoverer – Australia to Indonesia
- Silver Explorer – Arctic Svalbard
- Silver Explorer – British Isles
- Silver Galapagos – Galapagos Islands
- Wind Spirit – Stockholm to Oslo
- Wind Star – Rome to Nice
- EUROPA 2 – Greece & Turkey
- Queen Mary 2 – Eastbound Transatlantic 2012
- Queen Mary 2 – Westbound Transatlantic 2015
- Silver Shadow – Exotic Alaska
- Silver Shadow – Southeast Asia & Myanmar
- Silver Spirit – Athens to Barcelona
- Silver Spirit- Eastbound Transatlantic
- Silver Wind – Mediterranean
- Silver Wind – Middle East
- Silver Wind – South Africa
- AmaLotus – Cambodia & Vietnam
- AmaLyra- Danube Christmas Markets
- American Empress on the Columbia
- Emerald Waterways Emerald Star – Danube Delights
- G Adventures – India’s Ganges
- S.S. Maria Theresa – Christening
- Tauck ms Inspire – Maiden Voyage
- Tauck Swiss Jewel – Blue Danube
- Viking Baldur – Danube Christmas
- Viking Baldur – Rhine Christmas
- Viking Forseti – Chateaux, Rivers & Wine
- Viking Freya – Danube Christmas
- Viking Longships Christening 2012
- Viking Longships Christening 2013
- Viking Longships Christening 2014
- Viking Longships Christening 2015
- Viking Vidar – Grand European Tour
- Upcoming Cruises
- About FTDC
Recapping Our Journey Through Gwaii Haanas with Outer Shores Expeditions
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
I have been back from my trip aboard Outer Shores Expeditions’ Passing Cloud through Haida Gwaii’s Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Sitefor over a week now. I’ve had friends and family call me up and ask how it was. I’ve had people emailing in. Yet when I explain the trip to them in detail, I feel as though I am still left hanging for words.
On Monday, August 11, I disembarked Passing Cloud along with my fellow guests. We enjoyed a morning of scenic cruising up to Moresby Camp, just south of Sandspit. When we’d dropped anchor, each of us took some time to say what the trip had meant to each of us. No one was bawling, but there was a substantial amount emotional tension in the air as each person – guest and crew alike – said there bit. The truth is, it’s impossible to take a cruise that’s this intimate and not form a bond with the destination, the ship, and the people.
Before I knew it, we were in the back of our taxi van – all of us – driving down a dirt logging road that would last for the next 90 minutes until we hit Aliford Bay where our journey began exactly one week prior. Captain Russ took us on one last hike before we did this, walking us to a place where we had seen bears on a previous journey.
We didn’t find bears. We found CAT’s.
Two enormous Caterpillar excavators were making their way across a narrow bridge perhaps 500 feet from us, heading up a narrow logging road to clear-cut more trees. A week ago, this sight wouldn’t have phased me at all. After being in the pristine, untouched and protected wilderness of Gwaii Haanas, it was horrifying. If there were birds, we didn’t hear them. If there was wildlife, it cowered deep in the shadows. Only the growl of the powerful diesel engines and the squealing of the metal tacks on each vehicle as they dug into the earth could be heard. It was loud, oppressive, and horrible.
In the van, more shocking sights: entire swaths of forest, much like we’d been exploring all week, entirely knocked down. This forest was not alive; this forest was dead and decaying, waiting to be turned into paper and cardboard coffee cups.
I didn’t realize it when I was on the Passing Cloud; it took driving down that dirt road to see that the week I’d spent with Russ and the Outer Shores crew had changed the entire way I view the world.
In Sandspit, I re-integrated with society with an overnight stay at the Inn at Sandspit. It has a website, but it no longer works, even though the hotel is open. That’s just the quirky way things work here. The town enjoys a large tourist influx of kayakers and backpackers during the summer months, but the local industry here – traditionally, forestry – has been decimated. Therein lies the great balance: we want to protect the environment, but stay employed. In Haida Gwaii, it’s tough to have your cake and eat it, too.
I have to say that I loved Sandspit for its friendliness and outright quirks. For example, I joined two of my fellow Passing Cloud guests for dinner at the second-best rated restaurant in all of Sandspit: a Chinese food establishment called –I am not kidding – Dicks’ Wok Inn. How was it? The most expensive Chinese food I’ve had in my life. But hey, you’re in a small town on an island – where are you going to go?
Despite the fact that I kind of wondered aloud – as I struggled to get Wi-Fi internet for the first time in a week at 10pm in a darkened hotel lobby – why I was there, I am very glad my travels took me to Sandspit. It was nice to re-integrate to society again after a week of near-solitude.
Another quirky word to the wise: tip your taxi driver. Ours also did double-duty as one of the security agents at Sandspit Airport.
So what did I think of Outer Shores? Here’s the rundown, followed by some reader questions:
Sail With Outer Shores If:
- You’re looking for a truly original experience.
- You love history, are keen to learn about other cultures, and can appreciate wildlife in all its various forms.
- You love the idea of sailing aboard a classically-styled schooner.
- The thought of big cruise ships makes your stomach churn.
Avoid Outer Shores If:
- You suffer from claustrophobia or seasickness. Small ships can cause both.
- You want a mindless vacation. This is an educational experience.
- You aren’t a social, outgoing person. The atmosphere onboard is social and convivial.
- The thought of small ships makes your stomach churn.
Final Verdict: Outer Shores’ Passing Cloud is among the top five cruise experiences I’ve ever taken.
Some readers (and, well, some family and friends) had some excellent questions for me:
Do you have to know a lot about Haida Gwaii and nature to enjoy yourself?
No! It helps to do a bit of research, like any place, but there’s absolutely no requirement to come onboard with a University degree in this stuff. That’s why Russ and his crew are there – to teach you about why this is so cool, and why you should care.
Did you ever feel confined?
Truthfully – yes – but just once, one afternoon, when the weather was miserable and we were all confined to the lounge. I read a book I’d brought along, but sometimes you just want a bit of quiet time. Still, the feeling passed after about an hour – and an hour out of a solid week isn’t bad.
Was it cold?
No – in fact, the first few days were quite warm, with temperatures hovering around 25°C (77F). The remainder of the days were slightly cooler. You definitely needed a coat, but bundled with a coat and a rain jacket, it’s easy to warm up – particularly as you’re always walking or hiking on-shore.
Was the floatplane flight extra?
Nope – the flight was included in the cost of the cruise. For 2015, Outer Shores will even be including a pre-cruise stay in Sandspit.
Where else does Outer Shores sail to?
Outer Shores sails to Haida Gwaii; Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island; Johnstone Strait & Blackfish Sound; and the Great Bear Rainforest that extends from Southeast Alaska to Vancouver Island on the mainland British Columbia coast. Interestingly, these sailings are already nearly sold out for 2015.
In the end, Haida Gwaii – and Gwaii Haanas – is nothing like I have ever seen before. I’m glad Outer Shores and the Passing Cloud took me there; I wouldn’t have wanted to have experienced this wonderful region of the world any other way.[table “57” not found /]
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009