The Pacific Northwest is a diverse landscape with extensive opportunities for small ship and adventure cruises. The region is home to an astounding diversity of landscapes from high desert to coastal temperate rainforest. The Pacific Northwest is bordered by the Columbia River on the south, extending to the spectacular Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and British Columbia's Gulf Islands.
The Columbia and Snake Rivers are known for their history and dramatic landscape, which is best explored by small ship.
Lesser known are the hidden gems of the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands, which offer active adventure cruises exploring a rugged coast and rich wildlife that are easily accessed from Seattle, Washington. The Pacific Northwest is an excellent option for travelers seeking a diversity of small ship cruise options right in our own backyard.
Columbia River Cruises
Mountain ranges spanning the length of the continent rise from boundless, fertile plains. Rivers with their headwaters in the Canadian Rockies rush relentlessly to the spray of the Pacific Ocean. Canyons, valleys, volcanoes and glaciers punctuate this landscape. And weaving through it all are the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
The Columbia River is the grand gateway to the West, pioneered by Lewis and Clark. Our selection of comfortable small ships and yachts are designed for exploring these historic waterways in active comfort.
Beginning as a trickle in the high alpine meadows of western Canada, the Columbia River flows through great, forested mountains and down desert canyons. Joined by the Snake River, it rolls with increasing force through fertile farmlands, past snow-covered volcanoes and finally knifes through a mountain range to complete a 1,200-mile journey to the wide sea. This is the grand gateway to the West, pioneered by Lewis and Clark, was roamed by fur traders and traversed by courageous settlers as they forged their way over the Oregon Trail. Our comfortable, small ships and yachts are designed for exploring these historic waterways.
The Columbia River is also home to the Pacific Northwest wine country. As it's one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world, many wineries in Washington and Oregon’s Columbia Valley have become internationally recognized. The Columbia River wine country is visually stunning, full of outdoor adventure, wildlife and wildflowers with vineyards and boutique wineries all easily accessed by a Columbia River small ship cruise.
Olympic Peninsula & San Juan Island Cruises
The Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park is a land of diversity and beauty. Often described as three parks in one, the region is home to the glaciated Olympic Mountains, primeval temperate rainforest and rugged coastline. Established in 1938 to protect some of Washington’s quickly disappearing forests, the park now protects one of the largest remaining blocks of old-growth temperate rainforest in the lower 48.
An astounding history reaching back some 12,000 years weaves a rich tapestry from ancient peoples to eight modern Pacific Northwest tribes with traditional associations to lands now in Olympic National Park. Euro-American history is much shorter but dates back to 1592 with the search of a Northwest Passage and the first permanent settlement about 200 years ago. The Olympic Peninsula has become a popular tourist destination, but exploration by small ship offers unique access and opportunities to explore the quietest reaches of Puget Sound.
The San Juan Islands and Puget Sound are internationally known for whale watching. In particular, three pods of resident orca can be found in the area from April through October.
Located in the far northwest corner of the United States, this island chain is a landscape of sparkling blue waters, deep green forests and silence broken only by whale spouts and birdsong. Orcas Island, Lopez Island and San Juan Island are the largest and most well known of the archipelago. Each has its own distinct flavor and charm with quaint villages and small towns. The benefit of a San Juan Island cruise by small ship is the ability to reach the smaller, uninhabited islands, which are perfect for sea kayaking, shore walks and longer hikes into the interior.
The San Juan Islands and Puget Sound are internationally known for whale watching. In particular, three pods of resident orca, or killer whales, can be found in the area from April through October. Other whales such as gray whales, humpback whales and minke whales are also found in the San Juan Islands along with seals, porpoise, sea lions, sea otters, bald eagles and numerous seabirds. A small ship cruise to the San Juan Islands is an easy getaway exploring one of North America’s premier marine wildernesses that is within easy reach of travelers of all ages and abilities.