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Vancouver is a major embarkation point for Alaska cruises, and virtually all Alaska-bound cruise ships call here; some also call at Victoria and Prince Rupert. After leaving Vancouver, however, most luxury liners make straight for Alaska, leaving the fjords and islands of B.C. to smaller vessels and expedition ships. Some operators lead sailing trips around B.C.'s islands; independent travelers can explore the coast on BC Ferries or on one of the coastal freighters serving remote outposts.
The small, expedition-style ships operated by American Safari Cruises and Cruise West explore the British Columbia coast on their way to Alaska; some offer cruises exclusively in B.C. Bluewater Adventures has 8- to 10-day sailing cruises of the B.C. coastline, including the Queen Charlotte Islands.
For less traditional experiences, check out the Aurora Explorer, a 15-passenger packet freighter operated by Marine Link Tours that weaves in and out of the Broughton Archipelago. Mothership Adventures operates a 10-passenger restored hospital ship dating from 1956 that offers guided kayak paddles to otherwise inaccessible coastal inlets.
American Safari Cruises (206/284–0300 or 888/862–8881. www.innerseadiscoveries.com.)
Bluewater Adventures (604/980–3800 or 604/980–3800. www.bluewateradventures.ca.)
Cruise West (888/862–8881. www.cruisewest.com.)
Marine Link Tours (250/286–3347. www.marinelinktours.com.)
Mothership Adventures (888/833–8887. www.mothershipadventures.com.)