How to make the most of an Alaskan flotilla | NW Explorations


How to make the most of an Alaskan flotilla

What is a Mother Goose Flotilla?

Our guided flotillas are luxury group cruises where vessels are chartered by our customers. Together they follow a lead boat on a pre-planned itinerary along the west coast of British Columbia through the Inside Passage to Southeast Alaska. This journey is divided into different “legs,” and customers fly in for a specific leg between one and three weeks long.  On every voyage, customers benefit from the expertise of a seasoned captain, trained mechanic and naturalist.

Of course, first, you need to decide which leg of the flotilla you desire to cruise (there are 8 in total, some already sold out this year). So, where does it start? Where does it end? Where is the closest airport and how will you get there and home? What do you need to bring? Where will you provision?

We all know luxury cruising is enhanced ten-fold when the food is sumptuous. Fresh, local ingredients make all the difference. So do unique flavors from out-of-the-way markets or boutique shops. Visiting the local stores enroute when you drop anchor makes for an amazing culinary journey.

Maybe it’s a visit to a local seafood market to stock up for a salmon or crab feast. Or perhaps you wander into town to find a quaint deli or a chocolatier. After all, who wants to be mid-ocean with an unsatisfied chocolate craving?

In the list below, we’ve outlined information about each leg of the flotilla we have available as Leg 1, Leg 3 and Leg 7 are already sold out.

For more information check out our flotilla FAQs.

Leg 2: Ketchinan, AK to Sitka, AK May 31 – June 10, 2019

This leg begins in Ketchikan, an once busting-at-the-seams town during Gold Rush days. Ketchikan airport is close by so there is easy access to where we depart.

On this leg, we go for almost a week with hardly any marina stops. It’s probable you will see an abundance of whales, grizzlies and sea otters. Visit small coastal towns and cruise past multiple islands.

Pre-departure in Ketchikan, get your provisions at a number of specialty food stores like Ketchikan Alaskan & Proud and the Salmon Market, selling vacuum-bagged salmon and more.

When we stop in at Craig on the island of Prince of Wales, the very friendly AC Thompson House is your go-to, being the only grocery store in town.

Sitka is our final jumping off point. The Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport is west of the central business district.

Leg 4: Ketchikan, AK to Juneau, AK June 21-June 29, 2019

This leg begins in Ketchikan, a once busting-at-the-seams town during its wild, gold rush days. Alaska Airlines has daily flights into Ketchikan airport making it easily accessible.  The airport is on an island serviced by a ferry that runs every 30 minutes.  The ferry drops you off just about a mile from the marina where your yacht will be waiting.  Cabs and rental cars are easy to come by.

On this leg, we’ll visit small coastal towns, cruise passed icebergs as we near the face of a tidewater glacier and see abundant wildlife.

Before departing Ketchikan, get your provisions at a number of specialty food stores like Ketchikan Alaskan & Proud and the Salmon Market, selling vacuum-bagged salmon and more.

During our stop in Wrangell on day 2, be sure to stock up on fresh produce, deli items and/or liquor supplies at the clean, friendly City Food Market.

You’ll have an opportunity on day 3 in Petersburg to grab groceries and a whole lot more at the 95-year old business, Hammer & Wikkan.

While we cruise, you’ll view stunning fjords, icebergs, and be on the lookout for whales, bears, wolves, seals and mountain goats.

Upon arrival to your final port, Juneau, consider spending an extra few days in Alaska’s capital. The airport is served multiple times a day by Alaska Airlines.

Leg 5: June 30 – July 9 Juneau, AK to Skagway, AK

Consider arriving a few days early to Juneau, Alaska’s capital – discovering art galleries, riding tramways and glacier-gazing.  There’s no driving to Juneau, the city is only accessible by boat or plane! The airport is served multiple times a day by Alaska Airlines, or you can travel to Juneau on the state’s ferry system, the Alaska Marine Highway.

Juneau presents many options for stocking up. Besides various grocery stores like Foodland IGA, Breeze-in Grocery, Safeway and others, try Jerry’s Meats & Seafood for the freshest and quality products in a warm and welcoming store. They will also ship products back home for you.

In the following days, we continue on to Elfin Cove (a fantastic spot for salmon and halibut fishing!), and onwards to Dundas Bay, Swanson Harbor and William Henry Bay.  Elfin Cove has a small general store and liquor store that are both well stocked for picking up forgotten items.  Fresh produce can be hit or miss in these small stores since it is typically delivered on a weekly basis.

We will also be stopping in at Haines, the adventure capital of Alaska! You may even see moose cruising around town. For provisions, Howsers IGA will supply all you’ll need, but try venturing into places like the small-town Olerud’s Market, which extends beyond groceries with clothing, marine and fishing supplies. Dejon Delights offers some of the town’s best smoked salmon, halibut and cod.

Skagway is our final port-of-call. This colorful town was the jumping off point for the historical Klondike gold rush of 1849. Steep hills and scenic valleys offer adventure opportunities galore. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot trail and offers far-reaching mountain views during its climb.

Skagway Airport has regular scheduled passenger service on Alaska Seaplanes.  The Seaplane will take you back to Juneau where our trip began.  Ferry services are also available on the Alaska State Ferry and Alaska Fjordlines.

Leg 6 Skagway, AK to Juneau, AK July 10 – July 22

This leg is very similar to Leg 5 just in the opposite direction.  We will start in Skagway and end in Juneau.  Guests will have ample time to gather some extra supplies in Elfin Cove since on this trip we’ll spend two days there.  This will give guests time to go on a guided fishing charter if they wish or explore the nearby George Islands.

After three nights at beautiful, secluded anchorages the town of Hoonah is a welcome change. Hoonah is a native Tlingit village, with a rich cultural heritage. For provisions here, try the cute and charming Colette’s Cupboard with grocery items, fresh produce, dairy, and meats. Or Hoonah Trading Company for a full complement of grocery items, including dairy, meats, cheeses and even a great selection of fresh coffee beans.

Next stop: Tenakee Springs, a small remote Alaskan Village, with a natural Therapeutic Hot Springs Bath. The Tenakee Springs Market is a sizeable fully-stocked grocery store, also with top shelf whiskeys, wines and beer.

We arrive in Juneau several days later and finish our trip.

Leg 8: August 5 – August 27 Ketchikan, AK to Bellingham, WA

We depart from Ketchikan on this leg. Fly in a day or two earlier to discover the rich cultural history here before we cruise the famed Inside Passage.

In Ketchikan, get your provisions at a number of specialty food stores like Ketchikan Alaskan & Proud and the Salmon Market, selling vacuum-bagged salmon and more.  Safeway and Walmart are also options here.  Be careful not to purchase too much alcohol or produce.  We will be clearing customs in Prince Rupert and these items are allowed across the border in limited quantities.

After mooring in Prince Rupert, choices are plentiful, but don’t miss Maverick Foods, the “corner store with more”. There you’ll find Rupert’s best stocked specialty Italian Food Section and ‘Maverick Cut Steaks.’

It will be seven days before our next major opportunity for provisioning in Port McNeill. Though our stop in the native village of Klemtu offers some opportunity to replenish supplies from a small general store.  Port McNeill has a Marketplace IGA which carries meats, has a deli, bakery and organic foods.

Pender Harbour, Montague Harbour and Friday Harbor in the gorgeous San Juan and Gulf Islands have various offerings. Quaint low-key grocery markets and island-grown organics meld with ice-cream shops and bakeries. You also don’t have to travel far to find fresh eggs for sale roadside on these charming rural islands.

Bellingham is our departure point for this final leg off the flotilla. If you’re flying in from out-of-town, the Bellingham International Airport is very close – a mere four miles from NW Explorations headquarters and marina.

It’s worthwhile to stay a few extra days and take in the sights. Bellingham offers seaside access to the San Juan Islands and is a stone’s throw from North Cascades National Park. It features museums and numerous local storefronts, and carries a youthful vibe, being home to Western Washington University.

Book your Alaska Flotilla leg today with us.


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