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“Much more than we expected!”

Stan Stephens Glacier & Wildlife Cruises
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Columbia Glacier Cruise from Valdez
Ranked #1 of 14 Tours in Valdez
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Stan Stephens Glacier & Wildlife Cruises has been at home in Valdez and Prince William Sound since 1971. Known then as North Star Marine Charters, Stan and Mary Helen Stephens operated fishing and hunting charters on their first vessel the 26 foot m/v Mary Helen. Seven year later in 1978, the entire family joined the business as Stan, Mary Helen and their three daughters operated their first tour to Columbia Glacier on board the m/v Vince Peede. At this time the company changed it name to Stan Stephens Charters, Inc., and to Stan Stephens Glacier & Wildlife Cruises in 2003. Between 1987 and today Stan, Mary Helen, their daughters and extended family (also know as co-workers) have worked to develop their operations and increased awareness of Valdez and the Sound amongst travelers. During this time the company has operated a variety of tour boats between the three larger communities of Prince William Sound; Valdez, Whittier and Cordova. In addition to operating cruises, Stan Stephens Cruises also operated Growler Island Wilderness camp located just south of Columbia Glacier for 15 years. On Good Friday 1989, life for the residents of Prince William Sound changed when the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef. Stan's vessels were some of the first to carry response observers to the site. Due to the need for spill research, the Stephens's purchased two additional boats. It was the early days of the spill as Stan was observing the response that he dedicated the remainder of his life to working with industry to protect Prince William Sound. Today, the crew at Stan Stephens Cruises lives by Stan's example and works to share the corner of Alaska he worked so hard to protect. Since 1971 the vessels and tours that Stan Stephens Glacier & Wildlife Cruises have operated have changed, but the one thing that has not changed is their commitment to the customer and the company's long term dedication to the Valdez and Prince William Sound.
Williamsburg, Virginia
Level Contributor
18 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Much more than we expected!”
Reviewed August 3, 2013

Went on the Stan Stevens Columbia Glacier Excursion from 12:00 to 7:00. The captain and crew were great and we were able to see so much more than the glacier which was about 14 miles away from our closest observation area. The icebergs in the water were beautiful and plentiful and some were so blue. We were able to see Dall porpoises, Stellar sea lions, sea otters, humpback whales, orcas, seals, eagles, mountain goats and a black bear. At one point we were surrounded with what the captain coined a ‘trifecta’ because we were experiencing orca, humpback and porpoise all at the same time. They make certain to give their guests plenty of time to observe everything from the glacier to all the wildlife. The day and the excursion was certainly one of the best ever.

Visited May 2013
Thank Travelover820
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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237 reviews from our community

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Grass Valley, California
Level Contributor
43 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“A great experience”
Reviewed July 31, 2013

Aside from the fantastic beauty of the fjords and glaciers, the female captain of our ship (regrettably, I didn't her name) was a great presenter of information and a total professional. The young crew members were great also; well mannered and great on service.

Visited July 2013
Thank DJSwift
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cary, Illinois
Level Contributor
21 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed July 29, 2013 via mobile

Wow!! Loved this cruise. Excellent narration. Got to see whales, otters, sea lions, puffins, glaciers and much more. The scenery is breath taking. Staff is great and knowledgable. Would highly recommend.

Visited July 2013
Thank CorLen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ohio, USA
Level Contributor
26 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Highlight of our Alaska summer”
Reviewed July 27, 2013

Our day on the Spirit of Valdez was an amazing experience, one that will remain, I'm sure, a highlight of our summer in Alaska. We boarded promptly at 9:30 after the crew had assisted guests in wheelchairs. After safety instructions, the boat left the dock at 10 while the harbor was still foggy. As the boat ventured into the Valdez Arm the fog gave way to clearer skies, and we were treated to the most amazing views of mountains, water, ice, and wildlife. The captain stopped whenever wildlife was spotted, giving us plenty of time to watch and take pictures. Viewing from inside was great -- the seats were comfy, the windows were large and clean. Viewing from outside was even better -- comfy seats, freedom to move about, and both covered and uncovered decks. We saw orcas, humpbacks, sea lions, otters, puffins, an eagle, and the most playful Dall's porpoises. The captain gave information about each animal and a bit of local history throughout the day. The boat came within about a quarter mile of Meares Glacier and we heard the thunder of the calving. It was almost surreal to be in a boat surround by floating chunks of ice. Lunch was chicken breast alfredo over rice with green beans & a breadstick -- pretty good. Late afternoon snack was wonderful clam chowder. Coffee, herbal teas, and water were available all day. Sodas, candy bars, & chips for purchase. Clean restrooms. If you go, dress in layers and consider bringing gloves or mittens to wear as you handle chunks of ice from the ocean. We've enjoyed several other boat tours in Alaska this summer --- this one is the best of all! Amazing views, great staff, comfort,and wildlife. Was it really 9 1/2 hours? -- I didn't look at my watch once!

Visited July 2013
Thank MissRumphius-Ohio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, MN
Level Contributor
26 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Hey your all ready here, this is the tour to go on.”
Reviewed July 26, 2013

This was our 4th wildlife / glacier outing in Alaska and probable the best one yet. Captain Randy did his best in finding us plenty of wildlife. We took the Meares Glacier Tour and we were not disappointed. The Meares Glacier is HUGE!!!!! We were given plenty of time at the Glacier for pictures and an opportunity to see the glacier calve (large pieces of the glacier falling off in to the water) The 26 Glacier cruise out of Whittier is very good and you see plenty of glaciers, but when you compare it to seeing the Meares Glacier- this one is a whole different animal.
We also saw a pod of orca's, a humpback whale, plenty of sea lions and harbor seals.

Visited July 2013
Thank t76500
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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