Phillips Cruises and Tours Offers Discovery

Day cruises are a popular way to explore Prince William Sound. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Sponsored post on behalf of Phillips Cruises and Tours 

What does the word “discovery” mean to you? For some, it might translate into checking items off a list. For others, perhaps discovery is finding something not previously known. For me, it’s both those things, and in Alaska, both can be handily accomplished with Phillips Cruises and Tours. 

Operating from the heart of Southcentral Alaska’s deepwater harbor in Whittier, a day cruise around the lush landscape of Prince William Sound can bring more than a few smiles to your kids’ faces (not to mention everyone else’s, too). Operations are in full swing for the 2017 season, and according to crew, wildlife has been plentiful and glaciers, gorgeous. 

Pulling out of the Cliffside Marina in Whittier for a day on Prince William Sound with Phillips Cruises and Tours. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Phillips Cruises and Tours offers three distinct itineraries, two of which are suited perfectly for children. 

The 26 Glacier Cruise is most popular for those wanting to check off yes, 26 soaring glaciers from their discovery list. Departing at 12:30 p.m. each day, guests on board the M/V Klondike Express are treated to comfortable seating during a five-hour wander through Esther Passage, College Fjord, Harriman Fjord, and Port Wells. Look for humpback whales (I just heard today a whale was spotted slapping his pectoral fin on the water to draw small fish from the shoreline), otters, seals, Steller sea lions, orca whales, and land mammals like black bears or mountain goats. The Klondike Express is a comfortable, roomy catamaran featuring ample viewing room and upper decks; there are also USB ports at all tables so you can recharge and take even more amazing photos (attention, parents of tweens!). 

The Glacier Quest Cruise departs daily at 1 p.m. and is shorter, taking three hours, 45 minutes to cruise stunning Blackstone Bay, where a series of icy glaciers meet up with abundant wildlife. Lots of kayakers frequent the bay as well, so you may see some paddlers out and about. A highlight for many passengers is a stop in legendary Shotgun Cove to see a shipwreck (I’ll let you go on the trip to hear the story about it), and ogle over the sights and sounds of this peaceful little slice of Prince William Sound heaven. (The boat will also have USB ports installed for 2018.)

AK Kid shows off nature items to other passengers during a Phillips Cruises and Tours trip in 2014 with a USFS ranger. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Mealtimes on board both boats are complementary with tickets. Menu items include wild Alaska smoked salmon chowder, hearty vegetable chili, and a kids’ meal with an all-beef hot dog and fruit cup. I love it when tour companies know what kids want. Gluten-free meals are available upon request. Full kids are happy kids, and makes them much more likely to enjoy the experience. You are welcome to bring your own food/snacks on board (but no alcohol). 

And speaking of experiences, both Phillips Cruises and Tours itineraries include a guide for real-time narration about the land, animals, birds, and history of Prince William Sound. In a partnership with Chugach National Forest, the company is dialed in to even more chances for discovery, and not just for kids. Anyone can become a Junior Ranger, or feel an otter pelt, or peer through a pair of binoculars at a soaring bald eagle. The rangers are personable and knowledgable, and having their presence greatly adds to my memory bank every time we sail. 

A good-quality raincoat and rubber boots are great choices for an Alaska day cruise. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Kids and adults should always be prepared for a variety of weather conditions aboard Phillips Cruises and Tours vessels. Whittier and Prince William Sound can be a bit confusing, weather-wise, so layering is the best course of action. Make sure you have these items packed: 

  • Rain coat and pants, if able
  • Warm hat to cover ears
  • Light gloves
  • Sturdy, non-skid shoes to prevent slipping on decks
  • Fleece layer 

You may want to add sunscreen for cloudy-bright or sunny days; the reflection from the water can be strong. 

Ahoy! What’s that we spy up on yonder tree branch? USFS rangers are always on hand to help passengers look for wildlife. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Don’t forget a camera, smart phone or tablet, and binoculars if you have them. A number of binos can be rented on the vessels for $5/day.

~EK

 

 

 

 

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