Not your Typical Cruise

Explore the “Working Coast” with Marine Link Tours onboard the MV Aurora Explorer.

When passengers board the MV Aurora Explorer each Tuesday afternoon, they aren’t in for Las Vegas-style shows, casinos and spa services with 2,500 other passengers. What they are about to embark on is the chance to explore the remote coastline of the Inside Passage, between Mainland British Columbia and Eastern Vancouver Island. Sailing through Johnstone Strait, Queen Charlotte Strait and in and among the many inlets and surrounding islands, the Aurora will go where no large cruise ship will ever go.

The 135-foot landing craft, originally built in 1967 for seismic exploration in Northern Canada, now services small communities, aquaculture sites, private residences, resorts and logging camps. She transports cargo that ranges from the standard heavy equipment, construction materials, boom gear, wire rope and other general freight to the more unique freight such as live pigs, palm trees and totem poles.

Along with the freight, the Aurora takes up to 12 passengers along for the ride. The onboard steward will ensure that all creature comforts are met while the chef prepares phenomenal meals, baking and other treats. Wheelhouse visits are encouraged, and the master and mate are more than willing to share the many tales of their years at sea. Passengers are berthed in 6 double occupancy staterooms, all equipped with en-suite washrooms.

While freight and tides dictate where and when the Aurora will sail, recreational stops are made where passengers can go ashore and stretch their legs. Some of the stops may include remote communities, historical sites and short hikes. Sit back on the upper deck and let the coastline sail past as the Aurora cruises along at a steady 7 knots (13 kph or 8 mph). Keep your eye out for marine life, including humpback whales, orcas, pacific white-sided dolphins, seals, sea lions, or look to land for deer, grizzly or black bear. And if the schedule allows, the crew may assist in dropping a fishing line, crab or prawn trap.

Trips depart Tuesdays from Menzies Bay, approximately 15 km (10 miles) north of Campbell River, British Columbia. All sailings are six-day/five-night round-trip tours running from mid-March to late-October. The 2022 season is filling up quickly and the 2023 season will become available for booking in mid-December. For more information, head to or call 250-286-3347.


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