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 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 Valdez and Prince William Sound.