Several expedition ships sail into the Sea of Cortez each year to spend their winters hosting Baja small ship cruises. Starting in November, with routes running through April, these vessels explore remote coastlines and islands inaccessible to larger ships thanks to their small size and shallow drafts. Less set ports of call also equal more opportunity to take advantage wild places and wildlife: if whales are breaching, dolphins are bow riding or mobula rays are jumping, you’ll have the opportunity to stick around for the action. Here is a summary of the vessels sailing in Baja waters and how they compare:
True Expedition Vessels Fit for National Geographic
Twin sister ships National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion are tried and true expedition ships with capacity for 62 guests each. Their operations team has been sailing in the Sea of Cortez for more than 30 years, and onboard experts and naturalist guides from National Geographic make these vessels an unparalleled basecamp for learning.
In addition to a National Geographic certified photo instructor aboard each departure, you’ll benefit from an undersea specialist, who dives and shoots with high-intensity lights and an HD video camera. You’ll also have the chance to witness research, led by Dr. William Gilly, Chief Scientist at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University: Watch the ships’ crew lower scientific instruments that measure oxygen levels in the Sea of Cortez, with the goal of revealing changes in an ecologically important zone. On itineraries that include an excursion to whale lagoons on the Pacific, the National Geographic Sea Bird and Sea Lion are the only non-local vessels allowed to use their own expedition landing craft among the gray whales and their calves in Magdalena Bay.
In addition to a fleet of expedition landing craft, stand-up paddleboards and single and double kayaks traveling with you, other tools for exploration include snorkeling gear, a hydrophone for listening to whale communications, a bow-mounted camera with live feed into onboard TV screens for watching dolphins, whales and other marine mammals, and a video microscope. A daily stretch and yoga class on the Sun Deck sets the tone for mindful exploration. These expedition ships sail several Baja cruise routes, so view AdventureSmith’s Baja cruise page for more information.
Action Meets Luxury – the Safari Endeavour
The newly refurbished 84-guest Safari Endeavour offers the luxury and amenities of an Alaska yacht cruise with the price, efficiency and action-oriented itinerary of a small ship cruise. Extra touches you won’t find on other Baja ships: two hot tubs, a complimentary massage for each guest and an all-inclusive bar. Cabin categories are much more diverse than those aboard National Geographic Sea Bird and Sea Lion, with all staterooms featuring windows (no portholes) and suites highlighted by French-door balconies, separate living rooms, ensuite Jacuzzis and Tempur-Pedic mattresses.
The ambiance aboard is very much expedition style and casual despite luxury touches. A full complement of expedition gear—kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, snorkeling equipment, hydrophone and bow camera—keeps your focus on exploring wild places. Wellness is also a priority aboard Safari Endeavour, with guests able to partake in morning stretch classes or use yoga mats for their personal practice anytime. Guides are well versed in Baja flora, fauna, and history, and select themed departures bring aboard experts in the fields of photography, marine biology, and ornithology. Read more about the Safari Endeavour and her Baja itinerary: the 8-day Baja’s Bounty Cruise.
Sail Small with Captain Bill – the Westward
Westward is a historic 8-guest yacht that’s owner-operated by Captain Bill Bailey, who also sails this vessel and his Pacific Catalyst II in Alaska. The Westward, listed with the US National Register of Historic Places, remains dependably powered by her original Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine. For those who want the most intimate sailing experience, this is your ship! You and just 7 other passengers will be Captain Bill’s guests in the Sea of Cortez, with exceptional onboard dining and kayaks for exploring marine sanctuaries and remote islands. Note that while the Westward is the only small ship in Baja to operate without air conditioning, her season is scheduled during the coolest part of the year and there is ample shade available on deck. Read more about the Westward as well as her illustrious history of hosting guests like Bing Crosby and Walt Disney on AdventureSmith Explorations’ website. Her current cruise routes run 9 to 12 days: Westward Voyages in the Sea of Cortez.
For more information on Baja small ship cruises and vessels, visit AdventureSmith Explorations or contact one of our Adventure Specialists by phone: 1-877-620-2875.
Toll Free in the USA: 1-877-620-2875