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  • The Columbia and Snake Rivers form a confluence of nature, history and unforgettable cuisine. read more

  • Go back in time aboard the Safari Legacy on the Columbia River. read more

Pacific Northwest

Cruise the Pacific Northwest including the majestic Columbia and Snake Rivers, the San Juan Islands, Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. Follow the path of Lewis and Clark through deep Columbia River gorges and scenic waterways, and actively explore in the solitude of wilderness easily accessed from Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. 

Pacific Northwest, San Juan Islands & Columbia River Cruises

We have curated the best of Pacific Northwest small ship cruising. Columbia River cruises by small ship explore nature, culture and history while the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Island cruises offer active adventure and wildlife. Our small ship experts know how to match your interests, ability and budget with the right Pacific Northwest cruise.

Columbia River Small Ship Cruises, History, Food & Wine

Columbia River small ship cruises actively explore the rich landscape by kayak, on foot and by inflatable launch. And experience the bounty of the region's famed fertile farmlands with locally sourced food and wine on board.

San Juan Island Adventure Cruises

Small ship and yacht cruises to the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands offer active explorations and wildlife easily accessed from Seattle. Enjoy incredible whale watching and the solitude of wilderness. 


Columbia and Snake Rivers Journey
From $4490
7 days
Travel Season
SepOct

Cruise

Columbia and Snake Rivers Journey

Sail through a dramatic gorge, dine aboard and ashore on local specialties, hike riverside trails to waterfalls, and through it all come to understand the history and contemporary character of the region. Whether its the tales of American adventure in the west or the quality of local wines that thrills you, you're certain to discover the harmony of history, harvests and landscapes.
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Legacy of Discovery
Special Offer Available
From $3195
8 days
Travel Season
AprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov

Cruise

Legacy of Discovery

Take an adventure cruise on the majestic Columbia and Snake rivers aboard the 88-guest S.S. Legacy replica steamer. Transit through the lock systems of eight mammoth dams as your ship navigates nearly 1,000 miles through the Columbia River Gorge over 8 days.
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Olympic Wilderness & San Juan Islands
Special Offer Available
From $1595
8 days
Travel Season
AprMaySepOctNov

Cruise

Olympic Wilderness & San Juan Islands

This 8-day expedition explores coastal Washington, round-trip from Seattle, with opportunities to kayak, paddleboard and utilize skiff for up-close wildlife viewing.
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Northwest Island Reflections
From $2250
6 days
Travel Season
SepOct

Cruise

Northwest Island Reflections

Watching bald eagles soar overhead, observing pods of dolphins and orcas at close range, hiking on forested islands, relaxing on deck after a perfect day of sea kayaking... these are some of the delights of this journey by classic wooden vessel and sea kayak into the magnificent isles of the Pacific Northwest.
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British Columbia's Yachter's Paradise
Special Offer Available
From $3695
8 days
Travel Season
AprMaySepOctNov

Cruise

British Columbia's Yachter's Paradise

On a British Columbia yacht cruise find orca whales in search of salmon, seals and sea lions lounging on rocky islets, and black bears and deer foraging in the deep, evergreen forests. Experience everything on this luxury yacht cruise, from the solitude of sandy beaches to the charming and welcoming towns and cities such as Friday Harbor in Washington's San Juan Islands, and Victoria, British Columbia.
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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. 

Columbia River Weather & Climate

The Columbia River basin is a complex tapestry of mountains, high plateaus, desert basins, river valleys, rolling uplands and deep gorges woven together by the Columbia River and its tributaries. Mountains are a major and dramatic presence in the Columbia River basin. There are a number of mountain ranges here, including the volcanic Cascades forming the western border and the Rocky Mountains on the basin's eastern border.

Much of the Columbia River basin experiences the rain-shadow effect of the north-south mountain ranges that block moist winds from the Pacific Ocean. As the air rises, it cools, losing ability to retain moisture. Rain and snow fall on the western side, while lands east of the mountains remain arid. Rain shadows are particularly evident where major mountain ranges are perpendicular to the direction of prevailing winds and storm tracks coming from the ocean, as with the Cascades. One of the most dramatic climate changes occurs here where the lush, moist old-growth forests on the western side give way to an arid shrub-steppe environment on the eastern side. Climate varies greatly throughout the basin, depending upon elevations ranging from just above sea level to over 3,900 m. Annual precipitation can vary from about 25 cm to 250 cm.

A common feature of the Columbia River basin is the shrub-steppe ecosystem where moisture is scarce (coming mostly from snow in winter), the wind is persistent and temperatures vary from 38C in summer to well below freezing in winter.

Columbia River Average Temperature & Rainfall

Columbia and Snake River

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High (°F) 34 40 46 54 62 70 78 78 70 57 42 35
Avg. Low (°F) 23 27 29 33 39 45 49 49 43 36 30 24
Rainfall (Inches) 6.6 3.8 3.4 1.7 1.3 .7 .2 .6 1.1 2.4 5.5 6.6

San Juan Islands Weather & Climate

The San Juan Islands have a temperate, mild maritime climate that does not vary greatly throughout the year.  The water temperature in the surrounding Strait of Juan de Fuca varies from 40-60 degrees, keeping the summertime temperatures cool and winter temperatures mild in the islands.  Mornings are often foggy and misty followed by partial clearing throughout the day.  Evenings can be warmed by sunshine with a light ocean breeze.  The San Juan Islands lie in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, causing them to receive significantly less rainfall than is typical for western Washington state.  The summertime months of July and August are the sunniest and driest months with spring and fall being relatively dry with occasional light showers and mist.

San Juan Island Average Temperature & Rainfall

San Juan Island

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High (°F) 45 48 52 57 62 66 70 70 66 58 50 45
Avg. Low (°F) 34 36 37 40 44 47 49 50 47 43 38 35
Rainfall (Inches) 3.9 2.8 2.3 1.9 1.7 1.4 1.0 1.1 1.3 2.4 4.4 4.0
National Geographic Sea Bird & Sea Lion

National Geographic Sea Bird & Sea Lion

Twin expedition ships National Geographic Sea Lion and Sea Bird accommodate 62 guests with special features including a hydrophone and Splash-Cam. Onboard experts from National Geographic make these ships unique. 
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Pacific Catalyst II

Pacific Catalyst II

Pacific Catalyst II is a historic 12-passenger yacht with a warm wood interior that takes guests back to a time when crafstmanship was the rule, not the exception. Her original 1932 Washington Diesel engine is the only one like it in the world.
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S.S. Legacy

S.S. Legacy

A replica turn-of-the-century coastal steamer, the 88-guest S.S. Legacy features a dance floor, full bar and old-world charm, a perfect complement to its history-steeped itineraries in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. 
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Safari Quest

Safari Quest

The 22-guest exclusive yacht Safari Quest cruises Alaska's Inside Passage and British Columbia. Unique among yachts, the Safari Quest’s four Captain staterooms feature sliding glass doors and French balconies.
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