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 years 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 its 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 Valdez and Prince William Sound.
What we'll do
If your time or budget is more limited, you will want to consider our 6 hour Columbia Glacier Cruise.
This 6 hour journey through Prince William Sound will feature a visit to the Columbia Glacier area where you have a chance to view history in the making as Columbia Glacier retreats back into the Chugach Mountains. In addition to the amazing ice in Columbia Bay, you will see a variety of wildlife and have the opportunity to learn about the mining, oil shipping, earthquake, and fishing history of the area. On board a light meal is served.
What to expect / what's provided
Check-In: Please check-in with our office at 100 North Harbor Drive (behind the Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn) one hour prior to departure. Our office is open daily from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM.
Boarding: We will begin the boarding process at 8:30 AM.
Driving Directions: As you drive into Valdez you will be on Egan Drive. Turn left onto Meals Avenue and travel for 2 blocks. Turn left onto North Harbor Drive and we are located directly beside the Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn. Parking is free all day on North Harbor Drive. Please do not park in the Best Western parking lot.
What To Wear: We recommend that all guests dress in warm layers, as the temperature at the glaciers will average 40°F (4.5°C) Rain jackets are recommended as well as comfortable shoes.
Don’t forget your camera, batteries with chargers and binoculars!
There are limited items for sale on our vessels, including snacks and merchandise. Once on board our vessels we can only accept cash for payment of these items.
Meals: Dietary needs are life needs and we understand that. However due to the lack of galley space we are very limited on what we can store and serve. We do have limited options for vegetarians on both of our cruises. All other dietary needs we cannot meet. However, we do have microwaves and boiling water on board, with limited refrigeration and freezer space. Please bring items to eat if you are concerned about dietary needs. We will be happy to help prepare it for you.
Physical Disabilities/Limitations: We are able to accommodate travelers with physical disabilities/limitations. However in the case of extreme tidal swings, there may be limitations in regard to boarding the vessel. Please notify us in advance so we can be sure to accommodate you and your traveling companions.
• Cancellations made 16 or more days in advance will receive a full refund.
• Cancellations made 8-15 days in advance will receive a 50% refund.
• Cancellations made 7 or fewer days in advance will receive no refund.