Summary : The coastline of southeast Alaska and British Columbia is a rare and special place, blending spectacular natural beauty with distinctive cultural influences. It is an incredible maze of fjords, channels, rivers and glaciers that glide towards the sea. Speckled here and there are small hamlets inhabited by proud, independent people, blending a myriad of traditions from Native American to Russian and Scandinavian. This majestic region of narrow-protected waterways is ideally suited for your nimble 70-guest expedition ship. Enjoy an in-depth exploration of the coastal wilderness between Sitka, Alaska and Seattle, Washington. All departures will have a certified photo instructor and select departures will have a National Geographic photographer onboard.
Activities : Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography
Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
Free Subscription: Complimentary 1-year subscription to National Geographic Magazine (one per booking).
$999,999,999 to $0
In the native Tlingit language, Sitka means the village behind the island, and it has been home to various cultures for thousands of years. Sitka has a strong Russian heritage, which is readily apparent as you visit St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church with its onion domes right in the middle of town. Gaze up at the grand totem poles throughout Sitka National Historic Park. At the Raptor Rehabilitation Center, you have views of species normally seen in the wild — bald eagles, hawks, falcons and owls. Sitka’s oceanfront setting is framed by the volcanic peak of Mount Edgecumbe and a string of small islands. The crystalline waters of Sitka Bay abound with sea stars and translucent moon jellyfish.
Today is a day with the luxury of no specific plan. There are many options for landings on islands such as Baranof and Chichagof, where bald eagles nest and brown bears make themselves at home. If you’re a beachcomber, the shoreline is rich with treasures. The forest trails are dense and beautiful, whether you choose the long walk option or a short stroll, accompanied by one of your Naturalists familiar with the local terrain. Hemlock and spruce abound in the old-growth forest. When kayaking, there are always choices. If you’re looking for exercise and excitement, choose a more strenuous course. If you want scenery and relaxation, you’ll have the option to paddle slowly — exploring, poking into little inlets and relishing the quiet and up-close, personal view.
Spend the entire day amidst the coves, fjords, tidewater glaciers, freshwater lakes and majestic mountains of Glacier Bay National Park. You’ll see glaciers that end abruptly at the water’s edge and observe them “calving” — tons of ice crashing into the sea — accompanied by an exhilaratingly thunderous sound. Mountain goats scaling the peaks as well as harbor seals and Steller sea lions are some of the creatures we may observe. You may have the opportunity to see not only one, but two kinds of puffins: the tufted and the horned puffin. A visit to Tidal Inlet may bring the sight of brown bears lumbering up the hillside. If the timing is right, a bear and her cub may be playing in the water. Watch their interactions, knowing the cub will be on its own next year. Plus, a native Tlingit interpreter will share the lore and legend of the area.
Visit Juneau, Alaska's state capital. Explore the Alaska State Museum, viewing its fascinating permanent collection with an emphasis on Alaska's native peoples and natural history. Also, visit Mendenhall Glacier and observe the stunning, ice-carved valley up close.
Voyage into Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm, both spectacular fjords, with waterfalls cascading from glacially carved walls. See the soaring Dawes or South Sawyer Glacier up close and take a Zodiac cruise for an unbeatable view of sculpted icebergs. Keep an eye out for harbor seals and porpoises, Arctic terns and Bonaparte gulls.
Join naturalists on deck to search for orca whales, humpback whales, and Steller sea lions. Go ashore for a walk along a quiet forest trail and visit the fishing village of Petersburg, known as “Alaska’s Little Norway.”
Misty Fiords National Monument, often referred to as "Yosemite of the sea" for its sheer majesty, is 2.3 million acres of pristine wilderness that will leave you with exquisite memories of your stay in Alaska. Head out on a personal kayak reconnaissance or take a Zodiac cruise beneath glacier-carved cliffs with saw-tooth tops. Float past sheer cliffs and icy waterfalls, easily navigating in and out of areas the “big white boats” that ply Alaska’s waters can't get near.
You'll feel like a true explorer as you continue northward looking for whales, dolphins, bears, deer and other wildlife. This is an area where vast sections of untouched coastal rain forest still exist — and where an expedition ship proves to be the perfect vessel. Without a specific plan, open to spontaneity and adventure, you’ll freely rove within the near-limitless expanse of pristine wildness — to explore any intriguing bay or inlet you happen upon, or reverse course to follow a sighted whale pod. Your small ship gives you this freedom. Your onboard kayaks and Zodiacs can be lowered swiftly to bring it all closer. Wherever you stop and explore, you’re certain to be the only human life, accompanied by spectacular birds and animals. In such a populated and busy world, these opportunities are tonic for the mind, body and soul.
Johnstone Strait is one of the foremost viewing areas for orca whales in the entire Northern Hemisphere and since nineteen whale pods are known to spend part of the year here, there is a chance of exciting whale watching.
Arrive in Queen Charlotte Sound on course for Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. Once the ship is secured, make your way to the U'Mista Cultural Center, home to a stunning collection of potlatch masks created by the Kwakwaka'wakw peoples. At the Center, anyone related to any member of this tribe is able to trace their ancestry. Then walk or ride to the Big House, just a short distance away where the Tsasala Cultural Group puts on a dance and the performers explain the story of the dance movements.
The San Juan Islands are the gems of northern Washington State and today you explore them with the freedom of no specific plan. You explore this archipelago of some 170 idyllic forested islands with varied coastlines offering wonderful opportunities to observe seals, sea lions, river otters, bald eagles and orcas as sea birds form patterns in the sky overhead.
Disembark the ship in the heart of Seattle, with the Olympic Mountains, majestic Mount Rainier and the Seattle skyline as the backdrop.
Reverse Itinerary: 4/30/2013, 5/1/2013 (These departures travel from Seattle to Sitka)
Certified Photo Instructor: Every Alaska expedition aboard the Sea Lion/Sea Bird will offer a certified photo instructor. Guests of any interest or skill level can rely on assistance with their camera model, instruction on elements of composition and more, plus useful shooting tips—in the field, where it counts! On select departures, a National Geographic Photographer will join you: Kim Heacox (4/30/2013), Flip Nicklin (5/1/2013 or 9/1/2013) and Rich Reid (8/31/2013).
Accommodations, meals and non-alcoholic beverages on board the ship; shore excursions and sightseeing (flightseeing is optional); special access permits; tips (except to ship's crew), taxes and service charges; services of expedition staff.
Air transportation; flightseeing; extension; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; fuel surcharge may apply.