Wilderness Explorer small ship with white upper decks & green hull cruises in calm water on a sunny day.
Woman in black pants & jacket looks through binoculars on side deck of Wilderness Explorer while cruising by a waterfall.
Dining room aboard Wilderness Explorer
Lounge seating area with padded light blue loveseats & purple & wood chairs by windows aboard Wilderness Explorer
Admiral cabin with queen wallbed in bed configuration aboard Wilderness Explorer
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Wilderness Explorer

year built
crew members
186 feet
38 feet
cruising speed
11 knots
United States

Please note that the Wilderness Explorer is not actively sailing any cruises listed with Adventuresmith Explorations. Contact us for current information on this ship and comparable options, or browse all of our small Alaska cruise ships to filter by ship size and ship type.

The original M/V Wilderness Explorer (under the direction of AdventureSmith founder Todd Smith) pioneered adventure cruising in Southeast Alaska in the 1990s. The former Spirit of Discovery was relaunched in 2012 as the new-generation Wilderness Explorer offering a level of service and comfort far superior to the original. Affectionately and appropriately called a “floating base camp,” the 74-guest Wilderness Explorer is perfectly designed for remote exploration of wild places.

Wilderness Explorer Review

AdventureSmith Explorations’ Wilderness Explorer review includes a detailed description of the small ship including deck plans and a photo gallery. Our founder, Todd Smith, directed activities and itineraries aboard the Wilderness Explorer for years. Please read our Wilderness Explorer review below then contact our experts to compare the Wilderness Explorer with other small cruise ships and yachts offering small ship Alaska cruises.

True to her name, the Wilderness Explorer is an adventure cruise ship designed to explore the wilderness up close and in style. She has been a strong sea boat since splashing the waters in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The ship’s heartiness shows in her winters spent in Southeast Alaska. Choose the Wilderness Explorer if you are seeking an affordable and active adventure cruise with a lively crew with over 40 years of experience cruising Alaska.

Common Areas Aboard Wilderness Explorer

The Wilderness Explorer is designed to maximize viewing areas, social spaces and amenities for active travelers. The Lounge Deck features a large hot tub for up-close wildlife viewing from its position on the open bow. The Sun Deck includes fitness equipment, a covered area and space for tables and chairs. The lounge features a full bar in the center with a Douglas fir bar top, and offers a selection of microbrews on tap and cask wine. The well-stocked resource library includes books, games and DVDs.

Dining Aboard Wilderness Explorer

The Wilderness Explorer offers guests a casual-style dining experience with open seating that can accommodate all passengers at once. Chefs create exceptional meals using locally sourced fresh ingredients to reflect the flavors of each destination. Each day includes an early-riser breakfast of fresh fruit, onboard-baked pastries and breads, and a full breakfast complete with specialty items. Lunches range from pasta salads and sandwiches to homemade soups and ethnic dishes. Dinners offer a choice of entrées, including fresh seafood and meats.

Breakfasts and lunches are served buffet-style, while dinners are elegantly plated. Buffet meals give guests the flexibility to enjoy healthy and delicious options on a flexible schedule between activities and wildlife sightings. Vegetarian dishes are available and special dietary needs can be accommodated with advance notice. Hors d’oeuvres for the cocktail hour feature a variety of appetizers, and desserts are varied and plentiful. Top-shelf liquors, wine and microbrews are complimentary.

Activities Aboard Wilderness Explorer

With an emphasis on exhilarating explorations in remote wilderness, the Wilderness Explorer features a fleet of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, a stern-mounted, state-of-the-art kayak launch platform and swim step (perfect for a polar plunge), and inflatable skiffs. Adventure gear is available for use, including hiking poles, and snorkel gear and wetsuits at an additional cost.

Other activities aboard the Wilderness Explorer include on-deck stretching classes with yoga mats offered each morning, whale watching and warm-ups in the hot tub and independent use of the fitness equipment. The open bridge policy encourages interaction with the captain and crew as they discuss navigation, logistics and flexible itinerary based around weather and maximizing wildlife viewings and off-boat activities.

Expert guides and jovial crew members both educate and foster camaraderie with their onboard programming. Engaging naturalist-led lectures are complemented by the underwater sights and sounds provided by the hydrophone and bow-mounted camera. Laughter fills the lounge nightly with lively gatherings for charades, trivia or a talent show.

Crew & Guides Aboard Wilderness Explorer

Wilderness Explorer’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable crew creates a casual and welcoming atmosphere, and offers exceptional service. The 28 crew members are known to be creative and willing to try the untried, whether it’s unexplored trails and anchorages in secluded bays or a new recipe with locally-foraged ingredients. On select departures, expert onboard naturalists and guides are complemented by guest hosts in the fields of ornithology, photography, marine biology, wine and wellness, among others.

Cabins & Deck Plan Aboard Wilderness Explorer

The Wilderness Explorer holds 74 guests and offers many bed configurations, including queen (some are wallbeds), twin, double and a fixed L-shaped twin configuration. Each cabin features a private bath with shower, hair dryer, conditioning shampoo and body wash; air conditioning; flat-screen TV with DVD player; iPod docking station; binoculars; reusable water bottles and a view window (no portholes).

Navigator cabin with queen bed aboard Wilderness Explorer

104, 215, 302. Main Deck, Lounge Deck & Sun Deck. Each cabin features a view window. Cabin 104 has fixed L-shaped twin beds (only available for double occupancy with 1 adult & 1 child). Cabin 215 has fixed twin beds. Cabin 302 has a fixed queen bed.

Trailblazer cabin aboard Wilderness Explorer

Each has a view window. Cabins 208, 210, 212 & 214 (92 sq ft) have a fixed queen bed. Cabins 207, 209, 211, 213, 303, 305-306 & 309-312 have fixed twin beds. Cabins 105-106 have a smaller, fixed double wallbed. Lounge Deck and Sun Deck cabins have an outside deck entry; Main Deck cabins have an interior entry.

Pathfinder cabin with twin beds aboard Wilderness Explorer

107-114 & 202-206. Main Deck & Lounge Deck. Each has queen or twin beds, a view window and interior hallway entry. Cabins 107-108 have fixed twin beds.

Admiral cabin with queen wallbed in bed configuration aboard Wilderness Explorer

301, 304 & 313-314. Sun Deck. Each features a queen wallbed, sitting area, refrigerator, large picture window and outside deck entry. Cabin 301’s wallbed is currently permanently in bed configuration and may not be used as a sofa.


104. Main Deck. View window. Cabin 104 has fixed L-shaped twin beds suitable for 1 adult (or 1 adult & 1 child-see Navigator pricing).

Deck plan of Wilderness Explorer showing 4 decks with color-coded cabin categories.
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