Small-ship voyages explore quiet harbors.

By Jacquelyne Froeber
April 17, 2006

Harbor hopping―traveling by water to variousports―gives passengers an intimate look at seaside culture,coastal towns, and sublime scenery. Small ships make the experienceeven cozier. Trips range from one day to more than two weeks, andcan include lodging, meals, recreation, shore tours, andtransportation. Passengers usually sleep aboard the vessel, or inplanned hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns along the way. (Inspiredby senior editor Steve Millburg's Harbor Hopping in Maine story, we compiled a list of notable excursions.)

West Coast
Adventure Smith Explorations: (Alaska) Glacier BayHighlights
After arriving in Juneau, guests board the 78-passenger Spirit of Alaska for a round-trip adventure to Skagway,Haines, and Glacier Bay National Park―home to more than 200species of birds and fish. Humpback whales, bald eagles, orcas, andsea lions may show up during the journey. Most meals are included,with four- and five-day excursions available. May cruise pricesbegin at $1,399. Call 800/728-2875 or visit

Sail Channel Islands: California
Travel by sailboat from Ventura, California, through theSanta Barbara Channel to Channel Islands National Park, known forsea lions, seals, whales, and unusual wildlife. These trips featureno pubs or shops. Instead, passengers can experience the nativestomping grounds of more than 2,000 plant and animal species.Captain Dan offers sailing lessons, and you can bring your kayak orsurfboard. Once off the boat, you're on your own. If you prefercity-to-city hopping, then inquire about stops at Twin Harbors,Long Beach, and San Diego. Extended-cruise prices start at $700 perday for a maximum of four passengers; provisions are extra. Call805/750-7828 or visit

Fantasy Cruises: San Juan Islands and British Columbia
This round-trip voyage on the 30-passenger MV Island Spirit begins in Seattle and travels up PugetSound to Coupeville, Friday Harbor, and Port Townsend inWashington, and Sidney and Nanaimo in British Columbia. Packagesinclude onboard meals and beverages. Cruises begin in May, andprices start at $2,349 for six nights. Call 800/234-3861 or visit

Atlantic and Gulf Coasts
American Canadian Caribbean Line: Florida
Beginning in Jacksonville, the 78-passenger Niagara Prince stops in St. Augustine, Titusville, and FortMyers, and winds up in St. Petersburg. Activities include historicsightseeing, a tour of the Kennedy Space Center, and plenty ofbeach time. Offered May 3-10 only; prices begin at $980. Call800/556-7450 or visit

Great Lakes
Traverse Tall Ship Company: Michigan
Manitou, one of the largest sailing vessels on the GreatLakes, provides a relaxed getaway. She sails out of Northport,Michigan, with no set itinerary. The anchor can drop atdestinations such as Cathead Bay, the Manitou Islands, and BeaverIsland, depending partly on wind and weather conditions. Most mealsare served onboard, and cabins accommodate 24 passengers. Beginningin September, two-night excursions start at $460. Call 800/678-0383or visit

East Coast
Atlantic Stars: New England
As the temperatures heat up, climb aboard 42-passengersailing ship Arabella for dinner in Newport, Rhode Island; shopping onMartha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; and a New England lobster boil.Additional destinations include Cuttyhunk and Nantucket islands inMassachusetts. Beginning late June, five-night cruise prices startat $999. Call 800/395-1343 or visit

Schooner American Eagle: Maine
Lobster bakes, hand-cranked ice cream, and haddock servedwith lemon-caper sauce are a few tasty reasons to hop aboard thetwo-masted schooner American Eagle. Itineraries are flexible and can includeevents ranging from a parade of sail to music festivals. The shipaccommodates 26 guests and offers three- to 10-day cruises.Starting in late May, prices begin at $445. Call 800/648-4544 orvisit

Sea Cloud Cruises
Enjoy the tranquil blue-green waters and coastal breezesaboard the luxurious four-masted barque Sea Cloud, which carries 64 passengers. This round-tripcruise from Bridgetown, Barbados, stops in Port of Spain, Trinidad;Charlotteville, Tobago; Port Elizabeth, Bequia; and St. George's,Grenada. Offered in December, seven-night cruises start at $4,160.Call 201/227-9404 or visit