Known for their striking designs, the Metlakatla and Tsimshian totem poles are gravity-defying works of art like no other. The imprint of the tribes is everywhere, and their native art carvings on everything. Yet the historic past is dwarfed by the natural majesty of the region – from the vast Hubbard Glacier to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary, this is where the elements shine in full force. Cruise past the six-mile-wide Hubbard Glacier and the incredible Misty Fjords in search of bears, seals, sea otters and rivers running with salmon. Trace winding fjords to hear the crackle of Holgate Glacier as it calves new icebergs. Nature lovers will delight not just in sweeping mountain and fjord views but also sightings of Bald Eagles, humpback whales, orca whales, Stellar sea lions and harbor seals.
Experience the Tsimshian indigenous culture in Metlakatla
Visit Juneau and tour the Tongass National Forest by land and sea
Cruise along Hubbard Glacier, the largest glacier in North America
Observe native cultural presentations and ceremonies
Vancouver is a delightful juxtaposition of urban sophistication and on-your-doorstep wilderness adventure. The mountains and seascape make the city an outdoor playground for hiking, skiing, kayaking, cycling, and sailing—and so much more—while the cuisine and arts scenes are equally diverse, reflecting the makeup of Vancouver's ethnic (predominantly Asian) mosaic. Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the world's most livable cities, and it's easy for visitors to see why.
Day 2: Cruising Johnstone Strait | Seymour Narrows
Johnstone Strait is the main route through the maze of islands between, Vancouver Island and the mainland coasts of British Columbia and Washington State. Captain George Vancouver first charted this area in 1792 and named the strait in honor of James Johnstone, the Master of the accompanying survey ship the HMS Chatham. The scenery is of a rugged beauty with steep walls, tumbling waterfalls and snow-capped mountain. There are only a few scattered settlements, but an abundant amount of marine and bird wildlife.
Sailing through the Seymour Narrows is an exciting adventure. This five-kilometer long passage is notorious for strong, turbulent tidal currents that can reach speeds of 15 knots and have dangerous conditions such as whirlpools and overfalls. For most of its length, the channel is only about 750 m wide. Captain George Vancouver, an English officer of the Royal Navy who explored this region of the northwestern North America Pacific Coast during his 1791–95 expedition, described the Seymour Narrows as "one of the vilest stretches of water in the world."
Since the late 19th century, Metlakatla has been the major settlement of the Metlakatla Indian Community of the federally recognized Annette Islands Reserve, the only remaining reservation in Alaska. It is located on Annette Island, and in 2010 had 1,405 residents. Membership in the community is primarily by lineage and is comprised primarily of Tsimshian people.
Rudyerd Bay is one of the highlights of the Misty Fiords, 40 miles east of Ketchikan, along the Inside Passage. This fjord cuts through steep-sided mountainous terrain and extends far into the mainland. The scenery is stunning, with dramatic thousand-foot waterfalls plunging down rainforest covered cliffs to the water below.
Walker Cove, located just 41.8 miles from Ketchikan, extends about 8.5 miles into the mainland. The scenery is stunning with towering rock walls on both side and hundreds of waterfalls plunging down into the fjord. There is always the possibility of seeing bears, harbor seals, and bald eagles along the shoreline. The British explorer George Vancouver noted this bay on his chart in 1793, although there was no mention of it in his log. It was named after Dr. William Walker, the physician on board the HMS Chatham.
Ketchikan is famous for its colorful totem poles, rainy skies, steep–as–San Francisco streets, and lush island setting. Some 13,500 people call Ketchikan home, and, in the summer, cruise ships crowd the shoreline, floatplanes depart noisily for Misty Fiords National Monument, and salmon-laden commercial fishing boats motor through Tongass Narrows. In the last decade Ketchikan's rowdy, blue-collar heritage of logging and fishing has been softened by the loss of many timber-industry jobs and the dramatic rise of cruise-ship tourism.
Day 6: Wrangell Narrows | Petersburg | Sail Island, Alaska
The Wrangell Narrows is one of the most scenic and well-known ‘Narrows’ in Alaska. It is a winding 22 mile (35 km) long channel between Mitlof Island and Kupreanof Island in Southeast Alaska. There are about 60 lights and buoys to mark it because of its navigation hazards. It was originally named in 1838 by G. Lindenberg to honor Admiral Baron Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangell, a Baltic German explorer who was the chief manager of the Russian-American Company and governor of the Russian settlements in Alaska.
Petersburg lies on the northern end of Mitkof Island, in the Inside Passage, on the banks of Frederick Sound where it joins the Wrangell Narrows. It is halfway between Juneau, 120 mi to the north, and Ketchikan 110 mi to the south. Remnants of fish traps and ancient petroglyphs indicate that this area was used by the Tlingit people as a summer fish camp. For more than 1,000 years In 1897 Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant settled here. The place was named Petersburg after him and was incorporated as a town in 1910.
Sail Island is one of the many small, narrow islands located in Frederick Sound, in the inside passage of Alaska. It is home to the largest of all sea lions, the Stellar Sea Lions, and they are often seen hauled out on the rocky shores, lazing around in the sun. The waters surrounding Sail Island are well known as a place where the magnificent humpback whales congregate to feed.
Day 7: Stephen’s Passage | Endicott Arm | Juneau, Alaska
Stephen’s Passage is an important shortcut for ships traveling south from Juneau, Alaska. It is bordered by Admiralty Island to the west and the mainland to the east and runs about 105 miles. It was named in 1794 by Captain George Vancouver, an English officer of the Royal Navy known for his 1791–95 expedition, of North America's northwestern Pacific Coast, in honor of Sir Philip Stephens, Lord Commissioner of the British Admiralty. It’s not only ships that use the passage – many whales migrate through these calm waters.
Endicott Arm is a long fjord branching off Stephen’s Passage, the major inner passage heading southeast from Juneau. The easternmost tip of Endicott Arm nearly reaches the Canadian border. Like all the fords in this region, it was carved by glaciers during the last Ice Age which ended about 11,000 years ago. One either side of the fjord the steep, nearly vertical walls, rise to a height of about 370 meters or 1,200 feet. Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees manage to cling to the rock faces, adding to the breath-taking beauty of the landscape.
Juneau, Alaska's capital, and the third-largest city is on the North American mainland but can't be reached by road. The city owes its origins to two colorful sourdoughs (Alaskan pioneers)—Joe Juneau and Richard Harris—and to a Tlingit chief named Kowee, who led the two men to rich reserves of gold at Snow Slide Gulch, the drainage of Gold Creek around which the town was eventually built. That was in 1880, and shortly thereafter a modest stampede resulted in the formation of a mining camp, which quickly grew to become the Alaska district government capital in 1906.
The Inian Islands are a group of scenic islands located in the frigid waters of Icy Strait. They lie between the northern tip of Chichagof Island and Glacier Bay National Park. They are included as part of the Tongass National Forest and are renowned for the forest of stunted trees that are the result of extreme ocean weather. In 1990, the federal government recognized the islands’ pristine condition and ecological, geological, and scenic, values, by declaring them a Wilderness area under the federal Wilderness Act, and is managed by the Forest Service.
The southeast Alaska community of Elfin Cove lies on the northern shore of Chichagof Island, 70 miles west of Juneau and 33 miles west of Hoonah, and is only accessible by small seaplane or boat. IT has a total area of 10.7 square miles of land and 0.1 square miles of water. Historical accounts suggest the well-protected, flask-shaped harbor was originally called "Gunkhole" by local fishermen seeking anchorage. Its safe anchorage and close proximity to Fair-weather fishing grounds made this natural harbor an optimal location for fish buyers and supplies.
Hubbard Glacier, off the coast of Yakutat, Alaska, is the largest glacier in North America, with a calving front that is more than six miles wide. One of the main sources for Hubbard Glacier originates 76 mi inland. It has been a very active glacier, experiencing two major surges in the past 30 years. This glacier was named after Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a U.S. lawyer, financier, and philanthropist. He was the first president of the National Geographic Society.
Enjoy wine tastings, designer boutiques, language and dance classes onboard. Take in a matinee movie, check the market or your e-mail in the Internet Point, slip away with a novel from the library to a sunny chaise or with a movie to your suite. Or just take in the sun poolside. The choice is yours.
Katmai National Park is on the top of many “Best of Alaska” lists because of its otherworldly landscape, including 15 active volcanoes. In Kukak Bay it is possible to view the abundant wildlife and raw beauty of this magnificent scenery. Kukak Bay is well known for its concentration of bears and the salmon on which they feed, and this is one of the prime areas in this region for bear viewing.
Geographic Harbor is at the head of Amalik Bay in the Katmai National Park, and the brown bears here are ubiquitous. Bears can be spotted digging for clams on the low tide, munching on berries, roots, and grasses ashore or, most famously, fishing for salmon in the rapids of clear mountain streams. Not only the bears enjoy fishing in Geographic Harbor – keen anglers journey great distances to catch halibut, ling cod and rockfish in the bay. The waters around the harbor are also known to be fishing grounds for seals, otters, countless seabirds, and whales.
Today, commercial fishing is king in Kodiak. Despite its small population—about 6,475 people scattered among the several islands in the Kodiak group—the city is among the busiest fishing ports in the United States. The harbor is also an important supply point for small communities on the Aleutian Islands and the Alaska Peninsula.Visitors to the island tend to follow one of two agendas: either immediately fly out to a remote lodge for fishing, kayaking, or bear viewing; or stay in town and access whatever pursuits they can reach from the limited road system.
The Triplets are a cluster of islands tucked into Marmot Bay just north of the great Kodiak Island. These small islands are appreciated for their picturesque beauty. The Triplets appear out of the water like great rocks topped with lush greenery, with the view of the beautiful mountain-lined bay behind them. Lucky visitors will likely spot Tufted Puffins, which can be seen in flocks of hundreds depending on the season.
Day 13: Chiswell Islands | Holgate Glacier, Alaska
The Chiswell Islands are part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and deservedly so. Small bays, inlets, and sea cliffs are populated by innumerable seabirds including Black-legged Kittiwakes, Pelagic Cormorants, Horned and Tufted Puffins, as wells as guillemots, auklets, and murrelets. The Chiswell Islands are blessed with towering cliffs and sea caves offering up spectacular scenery and a Steller sea lion rookery that bustles as the marine mammals commute to feeding grounds, socialize, and care for their pups.
Kenai Fjords National Park’s famous Holgate Glacier is a spectacularly active river of ice. The surrounding glaciated landscape paints a dramatic portrait of the rugged mountains in contrast to the cold blue ice of the glacier. On approach, the waters leading up to Holgate Glacier may be peppered with bits of ice and the crackling noise of ancient air bubbles being released from small bergs. Periodically loud cannon-like blasts emanate from the glacier, and some are accompanied by calving events off the ice front. Gulls frequently sit on the small icebergs while harbor seals ply the icy waters
Day 14: Seward, Alaska | Disembark
It is hard to believe that a place as beautiful as Seward exists. Surrounded on all sides by Kenai Fjords National Park, Chugach National Forest, and Resurrection Bay, Seward offers all the quaint realities of a small railroad town with the bonus of jaw-dropping scenery. This little town of about 2,750 citizens was founded in 1903 when survey crews arrived at the ice-free port and began planning a railroad to the Interior. Since its inception, Seward has relied heavily on tourism and commercial fishing.
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6 cabins on Deck 3, 180 sq. feet, Twin or Queen beds, 2 portholes.
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4 cabins on Deck 4, Twin or Queen beds, 180 sq. feet with view window.
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16 suites on Deck 4, 194 - 230 sq. feet with large window, Twin or Queen beds.
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12 suites on Deck 3, 230 sq. feet with view window, Twin or Queen beds.
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8 suites on Deck 5, 215 sq. feet with French balcony, Twin or Queen beds.
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2 suites on Deck 7, 358 sq. feet with private veranda, Twin or Queen beds.
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6 suites on Deck 5, 430 sq. feet with 2 French balconies, Twin or Queen beds.
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2 suites on Deck 7, 650 sq. feet with large private veranda, Twin or Queen beds.
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2 suites on Deck 7, 540 sq. feet with large private veranda, Twin or Queen beds.
Included in your cruise fare:
Personalized service – the best crew-to-guest ratio in expedition cruising
Butler service in every suite and stateroom – all guests are pampered equally
Open-seating dining options – dine when and with whomever you please
Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship – select wines, premium spirits, specialty coffees and soft drinks, plus your own tailored mini-bar
In-suite dining and room service
Enrichment lectures by a highly qualified Expeditions Team
Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
Gratuities always included in your fare
One hour free Wifi per day for all guests. Unlimited free Wifi for guests sailing on select suite categories
Not included in your cruise fare:
Optional hotel accommodation,
Transfers and luggage handling,
Optional shore excursions
Accommodation while ashore
Any item or service of a personal nature such as casino gaming, laundry or valet services, purchases from the ship boutiques, childcare services aboard ship, massages, spa treatments, private fitness instruction, hair styling and manicures.
Some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars are not included in your fare.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!