Mist Cove Overview
The Mist Cove is an intimate eco-adventure cruise ship owned and operated by The Boat Company, which was incorporated in Alaska in 1979 by the McIntosh Foundation as a non-profit educational organization.
For nature lovers and outdoorsmen, it is a perfect way to experience Southeast Alaska. During the Alaska cruise season, the Mist Cove sails the waterways of the Tongass National Forest on 7-day cruises between Juneau and Sitka, with days spent exploring the hidden waterways, mystical rain forests, and undeveloped islands of Southeast Alaska, and nights anchored in quiet coves.
The heavy-duty aluminum, 24-passenger Mist Cove is 157 feet long and 33 feet wide, with a draft of almost 9 feet. The interior is classic, comfortable, and plush, with marvelous mahogany accents throughout. The Mist Cove looks similar to her older sister ship the M/V Liseron. However, she is slightly larger (24 versus 20 passengers) and has two cranes and five, 20-foot skiffs (rather than the one crane and four skiffs on the Liseron).
With 13 crew and 7 days dedicated to covering only 90+ miles between Juneau and Sitka, the ship can adjust its schedule according to the interests of the passengers. The first evening, passengers are given a survey to rank their preferences for the week. Choices include hiking, kayaking, fishing, exploring by boat, lectures by the onboard naturalist, relaxing on board, or sleeping the entire week with no disruptions (except for meals).
Although a few passengers might take a little time off here and there to stay onboard and read or rest, most are off the ship, maximizing their time to learn and see as much as possible about this marvelous slice of the world - Southeast Alaska.
The Boat Company shore staff do an excellent job of booking just adults on some cruises, and families on others. For example, one couple on the Mist Cove were celebrating their anniversary the next week after our cruise and had originally wanted to book for that week. However, when the Mist Cove shore staff pointed out that family groups with children were already booked to sail during their anniversary week, they chose our week instead.
Although it is difficult to imagine that some travelers might not enjoy a week on the Mist Cove, those who prefer indoor activities or love a Las Vegas-type cruise, with gambling, musical entertainment, professional shows, multiple dining venues, and a more formal experience should look elsewhere.
Let's take a tour of the Mist Cove.
Cabins and Packing
The 12 cabins on the Mist Cove are much larger and more nicely furnished than on many other very small ships (those with less than 100 passengers). The Mist Cove cabins are still not as large as on ocean-going ships but are very comfortable. Ten of the cabins have a queen-sized bed with an additional twin bunk, two of the cabins on the main deck have side by side twin beds.
Each cabin has two doors--a screen door and a wooden door--and a screened window. All passenger cabins open to the outside perimeter deck and are found either on the skiff deck or the main deck. Although the ship has both heat and air conditioning, it is great to leave the door or window open and sleep in the fresh, clean Alaska air!
Entering the cabin, the first things you might notice are the lovely mahogany wooden vanity and wardrobe closet. Mahogany also trims the beds. The closet has plenty of room to hang up some clothes and three large drawers. Another large drawer is under the bed. The vanity has a mirror and four drawers. A large shelf next to the bed can be used to store cameras, computer, etc. All cabins have a set of binoculars available for the passengers to use during the week.
The bath is surprisingly large, especially the shower. The bath has two bright lights--one overhead and a strip of others over the mirror. The water pressure is excellent, with plenty of hot water. The tap water is potable and there is some storage under the sink.
The bathroom has a hairdryer and luxury toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, and lotion). There is no room to store suitcases, so duffel bags work best. Towels are changed only on Wednesday, and sheets are changed once a week, so don't throw your towels on the floor of the bathroom!
Packing for Mist Cove Cruise
After you have booked your cruise on the Mist Cove, The Boat Company sends out a packet with an excellent list of FAQs, including packing suggestions. Calf- or knee-high rubber boots are a must when going ashore, and you will need to bring your own.
Cheap ones can be purchased at a local farm store or online, and they work fine. Hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes will also be needed. Those who want to fly fish may want to bring waders, although you can fish in some of the small rivers from the shore.
The ship is very casual, and dressing in blue jeans and layers seemed to be the daily attire. It can be cold when riding in the skiffs. A zip-up, hooded sweatshirt is perfect for cool weather conditions. A warm jacket, hat, long underwear, and sunglasses are needed for glacier day. (It's cold near the glacier!) Since Southeast Alaska is a rain forest, rain gear is a must. The Mist Cove does not have laundry service but does have clothes drying locker that dries wet gear very quickly.
Simply put, the food on the Mist Cove is excellent. The two chefs prepare three delicious meals each day. Most meals feature homemade bread or pastries, fresh fruits and vegetables, and even fresh halibut, caught by the passengers.
You won't have the numerous diverse choices found on larger ships, but those with special diets or allergies are accommodated. All meals are served by the two friendly stewardesses/waitresses, with extras served family style.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are leisurely and taken in the Eisenglass-enclosed heated fantail dining room off the salon. The guests can share one large table that can accommodate up to 24. The ship has a marvelous family atmosphere.
The Mist Cove has an open bar, with liquor, wine, beer, soft drinks, fruit juices, and bottled water always available. Coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, snack bars, and fresh fruit are also always available out on the fantail.
Large glass jars in the salon are kept stocked with nuts, M&M's, candy bars, homemade cookies, and snack mix. The chefs also serve pre-dinner snacks in the salon. Passengers are certainly in no danger of going hungry!
The timing of meals is adjusted based on the daily schedule, but breakfast is about 8 am lunch at 1 pm, and dinner at 7 or 7:30 pm. The chefs and crew have to be flexible. For example, a meal might be delayed on glacier day if the glacier is calving so much no one wants to leave.
Another day, orcas frolicking in the straits could cause the captain to put off dinner. Here are some of the menu items on the Mist Cove. The menu changes with the produce available and at the whim of the chefs.
Various cold cereals are always offered. In addition, other days feature the following --
- Fresh fruit, rhubarb-boysenberry pancakes, apple bacon, scrambled eggs, blueberry muffins
- Smoked salmon eggs Benedict topped with fried capers, sweet pepper hash, blueberry streusel coffee cake, fresh fruit
- Tomato basil mini-frittatas, cranberry orange scones, sausage, hash browns, fresh fruit
- Chocolate and sour cherry French toast, banana bread, pepper bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit
- Breakfast burritos with egg, bacon, and peppers; croissants, fresh fruit
- French waffles, bacon, cream cheese danish, fresh fruit
- Tomato basil soup, Caesar salad, focaccia bread, and dessert bars
- Quinoa tabouli salad, lamb and pancetta grilled skewers, dill bread, lemon tart, lemonade
- Halibut burgers, watermelon, potato salad, blackberry cobbler, fresh fruit, raspberry iced tea
- Grilled flank steak sandwich with sprouts, pickled ginger, wasabi aioli, and scallions; toasted sesame snap pea salad; sum dum dessert; peach mango green tea
- Chopped salad topped with grilled chicken, oatmeal bread, vanilla ice cream with berries and balsamic reduction, strawberry kiwi punch
- Make-your-own box lunch with sandwich wraps, chips, fruit, trail mix, and cookies
- Fiesta salad, grilled salmon with chimichurri sauce, and angel food cake topped with fresh berries
- Bourbon seafood chowder, filet mignon with red wine sauce, whipped butternut squash, roasted beets, chocolate birthday cakes
- Potstickers, seared ahi tuna topped with ginger butter, wasabi mashed potatoes, Asian vegetable medley, sesame flour bread, ginger creme brulee
- Curried butternut squash soup, Alaska ale beer bread, chicken chasseur with savory bread pudding, roasted asparagus, baklava
- Dolcetto salad, freshly baked halibut topped with a champagne buerre blanc, wild rice pilaf, roasted broccoli, cheesecake with blueberry compote
- Garden salad, Cajun-rubbed ribeye topped with bayou butter, chipotle mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, chocolate mousse
Common Areas and Conclusion
In addition to the fantail dining room, the Mist Cove has a lovely salon aft on the main deck. This room has soft, comfortable sofas, a library, open bar, refrigerator, ice machine, and enough chairs for everyone to sit down and enjoy getting to know each other better. Passengers are found in this room most days, reading, napping, having a drink, or studying the maps or list of wildlife seen on the cruise.
Forward on the skiff deck is the observation room, which has glass windows for viewing when the weather is inclement. This small room has a classic nautical look, with its maps and interior stairway leading to the bridge. Unlike most ships, the Mist Cove has an open bridge, with nice seating and good views. The forward main deck and skiff decks are outdoors, and with such a small ship, there's a 360-degree view for everyone!
The skiff deck aft is used to store the kayaks and the five 20-foot skiffs. It is off limits to passengers, as are the galley and crew lounge forward on the main deck. The crew sleeps one deck down from the main deck, near the engine room.
The Mist Cove is a marvelous little ship, filled with a family-like atmosphere, excellent food, and diverse activities. The scenery and wildlife viewed on a 7-day Southeast Alaska cruise are memorable in many ways, and guests love the opportunities for outdoor fun like fishing, hiking, and kayaking.
Like other luxury cruises, fares on the Mist Cove are expensive, but (other than tips) it is the most all-inclusive cruise you will ever see. All shore adventures and fishing trips are included in the fare. Although The Boat Company does not impose an automatic gratuity/service charge, the recommended tips are higher than on most other cruise lines and are paid in cash or check to the captain at the end of the trip.
However, the level of service provided is outstanding, and some of the crew have unusual additional tasks different than the regular chores of housekeeping, cooking, serving, and navigating. They serve as skiff drivers, hiking guides, fishing guides, and fish cleaners.
If you were traveling independently in Alaska and paying for excursions and tipping fishing guides, you would spend at least that much additional. Another bonus is that everyone on the ship takes halibut home (if the fishing is good), and the crew cleans, vacuum-packs, freeze, and box the fish for carrying home at no extra charge.
A cruise with The Boat Company on either the Mist Cove or the Liseron is well-designed for those who enjoy outdoor activities and casual vacations in a small group environment. The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is one of the few unspoiled wilderness areas of the United States.
Organizations like The Boat Company and the McIntosh Foundation are doing a marvelous job of working to conserve this region by sharing it with travelers, who they know will learn to love it as much as they do. Family groups or couples who love the outdoors will find an intimate cruise on the small ship Mist Cove to be a perfect way to see the meadows, forests, islands, and waterways of Southeast Alaska.