Pacific Catalyst
Pacific Catalyst
5
Multi-day ToursBoat ToursEco ToursDolphin & Whale WatchingNature & Wildlife Tours
Monday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
About
Unique small ship cruises in the sheltered inside passage of SE Alaska, British Columbia, and the San Juan Islands of Washington as well as the Sea of Cortez, Baja California aboard the historic wooden vessels M/V Catalyst & M/V Westward. A larger cruise ship alternative...a smaller, more intimate, cruising experience.
Friday Harbor, Washington
Meets animal welfare guidelines

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Travelers talk about
(7 reviews)
(3 reviews)
(2 reviews)

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

5.0
5.0 of 5 bubbles29 reviews
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29
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Richard M
6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
We have just returned from our Baja cruise on the Westward with Wilderness Travel and Pacific Catalyst. Although our 11 days were shortened by 2 days due to the US State Department asking all Americans to return ASAP, this small boat cruise was the best of many we have experienced. The boat is a wonderful classic motor yacht built in 1924.
First, wildlife. We had an encounter with a 2 month old California Grey Whale that in itself would have made the trip worthwhile, Then saw several Blue Whales, snorkeled with sea lions, saw many turtles, diving pelicans, and "mats" of disappearing Grebes on the sea surface. We missed the Whale Shark Swim having to cut the cruise short due to Covid 19.
Second, the food. I can't say enough about Tracie's expertise. She regularly produces gourmet meals 3 times a day. If you are a foodie, the trip is worth it just for this experience.
Third, the crew. Bill, Carlos and Tracie are a joy, as well as a font of knowledge. The bottom line here is that you quickly feel like family, not passengers. Once we all decided we had to get back to the States, they were very good about helping with arrangements and getting us where we had to be. Bill even took us to the airport and stayed with us through checking in to make sure all was OK.
Written March 25, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Dear Richard, Thank you for taking the time to review Pacificcatalyst II, Inc. We appreciate your taking the time to do so. We are glad to hear that despite having to cut your trip short due to COVID-19, you enjoyed your time aboard Westward. It was a pleasure having you - and for me personally, to meet you and your spouse. Warmly, Gertrud
Written March 26, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Kelly H
Colorado46 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
Amazing!!! We took a 10-day trip with Bill and Tracie up to Glacier Bay aboard the Westward. Every day was a real treat - from kayaking around peaceful bays, to wandering through meadows, to exploring glaciers, activities were varied and there was always a wealth of beauty to immerse ourselves in. Since cruise ships are still absent from the landscape, we had the park nearly to ourselves, and had the opportunity to see a ton of wildlife (humpbacks, bears, a bazillion sea otters, sea lions, seals, martens, mountain goats, eagles, puffins, etc.). The naturalist, Caroline, was a fountain of information about the plants, animals, and landscapes that we encountered, and truly added a lot to the experience. A few of our days got rained out and kept us from straying too far from the salon, but we still had fun! Food was beyond fantastic - Tracie is a marvel in the kitchen and delighted in telling us the crazy ingredient lists for the meals she had concocted (the ingredient list was somehow never as expected). Bill, Tracie, and the rest of the crew were great, handling anything that came their way with grace and keeping things fun while doing it. And the Westward itself is wonderful, with comfortable cabins, private bathrooms, and ample space for both hanging out (dining room, salon, foredeck, etc.) and for storing your stuff. Amazing that it's almost a hundred years old!

Could not recommend this company enough for a truly unique Alaskan experience! Loved it!
Written July 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ellen M
Oregon, Wisconsin, United States4 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
We rarely write reviews but this is one of those times when an exceptional experience comes our way. We always wanted to go to Alaska, so we started searching the net and we saw the picture of the Westward on the AdventureSmith site. It was love at first sight. Our advisor, Arielle, was helpful and easy to work with.

Little did we know that a dream was about to come true. After arriving in Juneau we met both the boat and the crew. The Westward is on the historic register and built in 1924. Its old Diesel engine moves along at 9 knots which is perfect. The slow pace is all we needed. The crew of three was welcoming and made us feel like family immediately. Captain Bill is a renaissance man. From navigating to dealing with the old Diesel engine, he knew how to take care of everything. He was also a fountain of knowledge about the sea and the wildlife and glaciers and everything in between. And....how often does a Captain read humorous short stories after supper?

We were blown away by Tracie's talent. She created three meals a day in a small galley at a four star level. Every meal was a creation of her imagination and always delicious. How many chefs help do the dishes? My husband never stopped raving about her meals all the way home to Wisconsin. She also helped lowering the anchor and caring for a garden on the top of the boat. At the end of the trip she sent us a copy of the menus including photos!

Our naturalist and photographer, Caroline, was delightful and a pleasure to spend time with. She knew a lot about the wildlife and plants, the geology, the geography and the history of the area. She shared her photography and made an 18 minute slide show of our trip to send home with us. She also sent us home with an extensive list of all the wildlife including birds, whales, mountain goats, etc. and plants that we saw.

After raving about the crew, what about our fellow passengers? All five of them were marvelous. We were very thankful.

The 10 days we spent on the Westward were in Glacier Bay National Park. It is such a small part of Alaska but offered us so much...wildlife, mountains, ocean, glaciers.. that it felt like another universe. We had wonderful opportunities to explore both with kayaks and on shore with walks on beaches and meadows. How often do you get a chance to be next to a calving glacier? My husband was sure the glacier was speaking to him!

This journey will be with us for the rest of our lives.
Written June 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Hi Ellen, Thank you so much for your beautiful review! Your effort is very much appreciated! Kind regards, Gertrud
Written June 16, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Dave H
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
There are simply not enough superlatives in the English language to describe this trip from Juneau to Petersburg, Alaska!

• The entire crew was outstanding. They went way beyond the second mile to be helpful and friendly. Their knowledge and professionalism should be a source of great pride to the entire company.
• The maintenance and condition of this classic 1932 wooden boat were excellent.
• The meals were incredible.
• The presentation or plating of the supper meals was an unexpected surprise.
• Ditto the excellent wine selections and pairings with each course at supper.
• The numbers and variety of wildlife we saw were incredible. The ONLY way there could have been more whales in the area one day was to move the boat out of the water! We got close enough to give some whales breath mints; a few of the whales needed breath mints!
• Catalyst cabins are cozy but efficiently laid out and common areas have plenty of room plus beautiful wood paneling.
• The sea kayak excursions allowed even more close-up viewing of wildlife and scenery.
• As an experienced canoer with over a thousand days paddling on mostly Class 3 + whitewater, I was impressed by the way the crew got even non paddlers familiar with the kayaks AND with the emphasis on safety. For those who chose not to paddle on a given day, the crew typically offered to take people out on the zodiac.
• I would write more now but I need to go hike or bike to burn off some of the calories from the trip.

Dave Hiker from GA

NOTE:
If you like crowded mega-sized ships with casinos, etc., please do NOT book on this ship. Those of us who have been aboard the Catalyst want the cabins for ourselves!!!!!

The small village of Petersburg, Alaska has a couple of flights a day on full sized aircraft (737) to Juneau and on to Anchorage for convenient connections to the lower 48 states
Written August 30, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you so much for your kind review. We're glad that you enjoyed your trip so much and hope to see you again sometime in the future.
Written August 31, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

dlbrunda
The Woodlands, TX45 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2021
My wife and I took the Sea of Cortez, 10 day Baja California trip with Pacific Catalyst on the Westward in February. It was a fantastic trip full of amazing wild life. We started in Loreto, had a nice small group dinner and breakfast and then headed out by van to Laguna San Ignacio. We did two "panga" trips to see the gray whales. On one excursion, we saw babies with their mother. On the other, we had a young male come right up to the boat and float along beside us where we could touch him and look at him in detail. Just amazing. After spending the night there, we headed back to Loreto where we boarded the Westward. We only had one other couple on board so there was seven of us counting the crew - Bill, Tracy and Carlos.
Every day was an adventure. We saw many dolphins and whales - blue, humpback, grey and orcas. Some came very close to the boat. Bill and Carlos are always monitoring the situation and getting us in the best possible spot to view the whales without disturbing them. We saw other wild life like seals, sea turtles and birds. We especially enjoyed the pelicans diving for their dinner. some from great heights. We also kayaked and snorkeled but we mainly were on the Westward or were hiking on one of the many islands along the way.
Another highlight of this trip is swimming with the whale sharks. Unfortunately, we didn't get to do this as scheduled on the Westward agenda due to a closure of the La Paz bay to boats due to expected high winds. Fortunately, we were staying additional days in Los Cabos. We rented a car and drove back to La Paz and swam with the whale sharks separately. It added to the time and expense of the trip but this is definitely an A-plus experience and there are only a handful of locations around the world where you can do this. We highly recommend it.
As for the accommodations and the crew, we were very happy. The rooms on board are fairly large and comfortable. Carlos is an avid naturalist and his enthusiasm alone is contagious. He has been doing this for many years but he still loves it. His knowledge of the wildlife incredible. Bill is a solid captain and maintains the ship extremely well. Tracy is a gourmet chef and always has something different for you to try.
In summary, if you like nature, solitude, a family/friend and intimate small ship environment, you will love taking this trip.
Written July 24, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nancy
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021
I have taken two trips with Pacific Catalyst, one on the Catalyst along the inside passage from Juneau to Petersburg. Bill was our charming and capable skipper, Tracie our amazing chef, and Caroline our delightful and knowledgeable naturalist. My second trip, in May 2021, was on the Westward from Juneau to Glacier Bay. Our crew were the same people. I cannot imagine a better crew or better boats to see the detail that we saw. And we mostly saw everything without the company of other boats. All the guests on both trips were interesting people and we all got along fine.
I still rave about the food that Tracie prepared. She's very talented in the kitchen. The walks on shore and the kayak trips offered close up glimpses of the abundant nature around us.
I'd go again and again for all the trip and crew has to offer.
Written July 31, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Cami M
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022 • Couples
The absolute best way to see the natural beauty of Glacier Bay park in Alaska. The Captain, naturalist, chef and engineer/first mate were so knowledgeable and friendly! Our first trip to Alaska was way more amazing than we had anticipated. The chef was amazingly talented and the naturalist was extremely experienced and knowledgeable.
Written July 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you so much for your review. We're glad your Glacier Bay adventure was so wonderful.
Written August 31, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

lil h
Minneapolis, MN19 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2022
This is my second trip with this group. I went to Alaska 10 years ago and now the Sea of Cortez. The boat is beautiful and is an experience itself being 98 years old. The rooms were very comfortable with there own bathroom. The food would make gourmets weep with desire. Every meal was beyond good. We had activities everyday that responded to what was happening in terms of weather, fish migrations, and the groups interests. I was so inspired by my trip in the Sea of Cortez that I stayed on an extra week. Some one had canceled due to covid so I took their place. Oddly I felt safer on the boat due to very limited contact with anyone other then the small group on the boat.
We had two teen age girls with us. They had the time and trip of a life time. This is no ordinary vacation this is truly a life experience. I can not recommend it enough!
Written February 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you so much for your wonderful and heartfelt review. We love sailing with guests who have so much admiration for the beauty of nature!
Written August 31, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

roberttC3850RT
Central Point, OR6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
This year was the perfect time to board the Catalyst and leave issues, troubles and concerns behind for 10 days. The Catalyst is near perfect in the way she is setup and outfitted for a trip to Glacier Bay. The crew is every bit the equal of the Catalyst. They are a friendly, experienced, competent team dedicated to providing guests with a once in a lifetime outdoor & culinary adventure. While guests feast on gourmet meals, awesome landscapes, calving glaciers, whales, porpoise, bears, seals, otters, birds, wildflowers and more, the crew creates a family atmosphere among strangers!
Written August 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lee L
Lyme, NH21 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
A wonderful trip that exceeded our expectations in every way. Wonderful crew, food of a quality that we have never experienced before, the best possible naturalist, and a very comfortable ship. Waterfalls, glacier, icebergs, brown bears, sea lions and sea otters, whales, kayaking, walks in a variety of forests. What more could one want?
Written June 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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