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, farther north. Most luxury liners, though, make straight for Alaska, leaving the fjords and islands of BC to smaller vessels and expedition ships. Some operators lead sailing trips around BC'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 UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions explore the British Columbia coast on their way to Alaska; some offer cruises exclusively in BC. Bluewater Adventures has 8- to 10-day sailing cruises of the BC coastline, including the Queen Charlotte Islands.
For less traditional experiences, check out the MV 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.
Bluewater Adventures. British Columbia. 604/980–3800; 888/877–1770; www.bluewateradventures.ca.
Lindblad Expeditions. 800/397–3348; www.expeditions.com.
Marine Link Tours. British Columbia. 250/286–3347; www.marinelinktours.com.
Mothership Adventures. British Columbia. 888/833–8887; www.mothershipadventures.com.
UnCruise Adventures. 888/862–8881; www.uncruise.com.