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Canada: B.C.'s 'nook and cranny' cruises are selling out quickly

January 30, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • The Aurora Explorer approaches Stuart Island in British Columbia's rugged Inside Passage.
The Aurora Explorer approaches Stuart Island in British Columbia's… (Steve Harkies )

If small vessels are your thing, a tour aboard Aurora Explorer, which delivers freight to remote logging camps and villages in Canada's Inside Passage, may be for you. With the ability to handle only a dozen passengers, however, the journeys are selling out quickly.

As of late January, only a few staterooms were available on select sailings, said Jennine Chater, tour coordinator for Marine Link, the Campbell River-based company that operates the 135-foot vessel.

Prices can be significantly higher on the Aurora Explorer than those on big ships, which generally pass through but don’t stop in this rugged stretch on journeys to and from Alaska.

“The lure is that it’s not [you and] 1,500 to 2,500 other people scheduling their dinners,” Chater said. She noted that many of their cruisers are repeat customers, often retirees.

The itineraries vary, depending on the freight-hauling needs of the rural communities, which count on the boat for supplies. Most of the stops are accessible only by sea or air.

“We’re getting into nooks and crannies other people may never see,” Chater said.

Chater said the five-night sailings provide ample opportunities to interact with the six-person crew and with locals along the way. Most guests are accommodated in premium staterooms, which include two lower berths.

Meals are shared in the dining room. The vessel also has two lounges, a library and outside observation decks.

Peak season fares, for travel between May 20 and Sept. 14, are priced at $2,600 a person for premium accommodation. Lower-priced trips are available during the shoulder seasons.

Info: Visit Marine Link's website or call (250) 286-3347.

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