Q & A with Maureen Gordon, Co-Owner, Maple Leaf Adventures, Victoria, BC, Canada
Offers sailing trips along the Pacific coast of British Columbia and the Inner Passage in SW Alaska.
We currently operate two ships, a traditional schooner called Maple Leaf (built in 1904), and the oldest working tugboat on our coast, named Swell (built in 1912). We have just added a third vessel to our fleet, a steel-hulled catamaran called Cascadia, which was built for expeditions.
AND THESE ARE REPURPOSED SHIPS?
Yes, both our wooden vessels and Cascadia have had multi-million dollar refits in order to reach a modern high standard for both comfort and eco-tourism. These refits were done by our own crew or in some instances contracted out to local companies.
Maple Leaf has space for 8 passengers and Swell can take up to 12 passengers. Each of these ships comes with a 5-person crew. Cascadia can accept up to 24 passengers and has a 10-person crew.
IS IT USUALLY 2 PERSONS PER CABIN?
Yes. Our cabin rates are based on double occupancy. We do not charge for a single supplement on Maple Leaf, but there is a 50% additional single supplement fee for guests who wish to book a cabin for just themselves on either Swell or Cascadia.
We currently operate out of 13 different ports in British Columbia and in Alaska. Almost every trip has a different itinerary because we like to introduce our guests to a particular area and help them get to know more about it rather than just cruising by it.
WITH LIMITED SPACE, HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD GUESTS BOOK A TRIP WITH YOUR COMPANY?
We release our trip schedules over a year in advance. We have found that our most popular trips, to Haida Gwaii and to Great Bear Rainforest, become fully booked within just a few weeks upon release of the following year's schedule! Many of our 2018 trips are fully booked now though there is still space available for certain trips this year. Contact us right away to find out more.
Yes, it is fair to say that most of our guests do come from Canada, from our own province of British Columbia, as well as from the provinces of Alberta and Ontario. But we also welcome plenty of guests from other countries, namely the USA, the UK, Germany, and Australia.
DO YOU GET MANY REPEAT GUESTS?
Would you believe it if I told you that we have welcomed a few returning guests up to 7 times or more? For different trips of course. Sometimes a person will come back and bring along his or her friends or relatives.
We suggest to our guests to pack a 50 to 75 liter duffel bag. Storage is quite limited depending on which ship and which cabin you are in.
WHAT ARE GOOD ITEMS TO PACK?
We say bring lots of layers! The weather and temperatures can vary greatly here in the NW Pacific coast, so we suggest layers of clothes and rain jackets to stay warm and comfortable.
We suggest a baselayer of merino wool which feels good next to the skin and helps to wick away moisture. A mid layer can be a fleece or wool sweater or a vest. You can watch this video we made and posted to YouTube to help our guests plan their packing: Click HERE.
Our crew members become your friend and other passengers become like family. So when your gear is on board, these items are safe. If you like, you might bring a small waterproof bag to carry personal items with you when you leave the ship and go ashore for a day tour.
You will typically see seals, sea lions, and sea birds during our trips. We always feel lucky to witness humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, grizzly bears, coastal wolves and even the rare spirit bear. We are in a temperate weather zone, and that means the change of seasons will affect the behavior and chances of seeing many of the animals. For example, the fall is an excellent time for spotting grizzlies feeding in the rivers because that is the time of year the salmon head up stream to spawn. During the summer months, migratory humpback whales are back swimming just offshore, they will sometimes breach right around our ships!
THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES THAT OFFER CRUISE EXCURSIONS ALONG THE INNER PASSAGE OF ALASKA. WHAT MAKES YOUR TRIPS DIFFERENT?
Maple Leaf Adventures differs from many other cruise lines, not only for its small number of guests and local guides, but for our desire to show you the best parts of our home. We focus on smaller areas than most companies, meaning we travel less distance, but get to explore 2 or 3 times a day on shore with our guides, naturalists and connecting with locals.
In December 2017 a new law was passed which makes the hunting of grizzy bears illegal going forward. That was a huge win for local wildlife conservation! We do not take such matters lightly since our company has been heavily involved in conservation support for many years. We continue to support research organizations focused on other large carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest and also on the orcas whose populations are threatened by increasing tanker traffic and decreasing wild salmon supply.
They learn so much from our naturalists who serve as guides and from meeting the locals when they come ashore for nature walks or museum tours in certain ports. They come away with a new love for the land and a better understanding of the environmental struggles that result when an oil tanker spills offshore or when too many trees are cut at once due to logging. They begin to connect the dots on how these negative events affect not only the people and wild animals that live here, but also how they too are affected in due time, even though they live in far away places.
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