Marine Mammals of the Pacific Northwest Cruise

J.E. Ross
Travelers watch an Orca come to the surface
Meghan Kelly
A ribbon seal cools himself on the sea ice
J.E. Ross
A group of Stellar Sea Lions swim past the boat
A. Riley
Visit a Sea Otter hangout on your Marine Mammal voyage
Photos provided by Heritage Expeditions
Spirit of Enderby, Russian Far East
Top deck of the Spirit of Enderby.
Spirit of Enderby's lounge and bar.
You are invited to join this 15-day cruise as it embarks on the ultimate whale-and marine mammal-watching expedition in the Russian Far East. This part of the world is amazingly rich in marine live and is a major feeding ground for numerous migratory whale species. This Russia cruise visits the best sites for cetaceans and other marine mammals, including Kamchatka, the Commander Islands, and the Northern Kuril Islands. Come along in search of species such as Gray whales, Orcas, Russian Sea Otters, Habour Seals, or even the reclusive Ribbon Seal.

Day 1

    Embark in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

    Arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and transfer to your vessel. You are welcome on the bridge as there is a possibility of seeing Orcas and Sperm Whales as the ship sails out of Avacha Bay on its way to Olga Bay in the north.

    Day 2

      Olga Bay

      Olga Bay is a shallow cove on the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula and a well documented feeding ground for Gray Whales. Plan to launch Zodiacs to get a closer look at some of the animals who frequent the area. Plan to make a landing on a sandy beach near the forest to look for the iconic Kamchatka Brown Bear and amazing Steller’s Sea Eagles.

      Days 3-4

        Commander Islands

        The Commander Islands are a unique and majestic place with one of the highest cetacean diversities in the Russian Far East. Plan to visit the village of Nikolskoye and learn about the region's human history, then move on to the North West Bay to discover its rookery of Northern Fur Seals. Visit the deep oceanic trench that comes close to the shore on the western coast of Bering Island in search of various species of whales, including Humpback, Minke, Fin, Orca, Dall’s Porpoise, Sperm and Baird’s Beaked Whales. There are also several recorded sightings of Northern Right Whales as recently as 2013 in this area.

        Day 5

          Kukhta Russkaya, Kamchatka

          Russkaya Bay is a beautiful fjord near the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula. During your landing, hope to see Steller’s Sea Eagles and possibly brown bears. Depending on weather conditions, take a Zodiac cruise to the fjord's entrance, where a resident Orca pod has been frequently spotted. There is also a Steller Sea Lion haul out nearby and some Sea Otters around the rocks.

          Day 6

            Second Kuril Strait

            Zodiac cruise at Ptich’i rocks, which hold an amazing concentration of Sea Otters, Harbour and Largha Seals as well as sea birds. Make a landing on Atlasova Island, on which is situated Alaid – the tallest volcano in the Kuril chain. The island is inhabited by Red Foxes, and Sea Otters frequent the surrounding ocean.

            Day 7

              Kambal'naya Bay, Kamchatka

              There have been several recent records of Northern Right Whale sightings, the rarest baleen whale species in the world, in this bay on the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Plan to check the area and possibly make a landing if conditions are suitable.

              Days 8-9

                At Sea

                As the ship crosses the Sea of Okhotsk, catch up on some lectures from the on-board specialists or help keep observations on the bridge. This area can be quite productive for Orcas and baleen whales.

                Days 10-11

                  Shantar Archipelago

                  The Shantar Islands are synonymous with wilderness and wildlife, but few people have had the opportunity to visit. For much of the year the islands are icebound, but this expedition has been scheduled at a time that gives the best opportunity to sail through and around the many islands in the group. The shallow waters around the islands are home to a known population of Bowhead Whales and Belugas. There are also records of Northern Right Whales and regular Orca sightings. Explore the islands and surrounding waters by ship and Zodiac as well as make some expedition landings.

                  Day 12

                    Pil'tun Bay, Sakhalin Island

                    Embark on a Zodiac cruise near the entrance to the lagoon in Pil’tun Bay to look for the endangered ‘Western’ Gray Whales population and possibly make a landing at the lighthouse situated at the entrance to the lagoon. Steller’s Sea Eagles and Largha Seals can regularly be seen nearby.

                    Day 13

                      At Sea

                      Cruise along the coastline of Sakhalin Islan and spend some time attending lectures and observing the area from the bridge.

                      Day 14

                        Tyuleniy Island

                        If sea conditions are suitable, Tyuleniy Island is your last landing of the expedition. At the height of the season it is a major breeding rookery for Northern Fur Seals and Steller Sea Lions as well as numerous guillemots. Although in September the breeding season is pretty much over, there are still animals around. There is a research station on the island that was built in the 1960s in the course of an international fur seal research program. Fences and walkways provide access to well-placed viewing platforms and lookouts.

                        Day 15

                          Sakhalin Island

                          The expedition finishes today at the Port of Korsakov. Transfer to a central hotel and the airport in the town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

                          - Travel Insurance is mandatory for all passengers aboard the Spirit of Enderby.
                          - Single clients are matched with a sharer of the same sex in a twin-share cabin. Payment of a single supplement guarantees a single cabin. The single supplement is 1.8 times the price of the voyage with the exception of the suites which are double the single rate.

                          During the course of this expedition an on-bard team strives to collect valuable scientific data on marine mammals. Constant observations on the bridge and records all the sightings are to be kept for the duration of the voyage, as well as taking pictures for photo-ID and collecting some biopsy samples upon obtaining necessary permits. Hopefully, the team can collect enough data to publish a paper at the conclusion of the trip which can contribute to other research projects. You are more than welcome to participate in data collection and recording.

                          Trip Includes: Pre/Post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation, meals and all expedition shore excursions.

                          Trip Cost Does not Include: All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.
                          Asia, Arctic, North America, Europe, Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Russia, Canada, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Commander Islands, Bukhta Russkaya, Second Kuril Strait, Sakhalin Island, Tyuleniy Island, Piltun Bay, Shantar Archipelago, Kambal'naya Bay, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Russian Far East
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