Summary : Over the course of your cruise, you will get up close to the most active volcanoes in the world and you’ll be able to see for yourself the exceptional diversity of wildlife that reigns in these parts. Surrounded by waters that are particularly rich in nutrients, the string of Aleutian Islands is home to an incredibly rich fauna. It is common to see whales, orcas, and seabirds here. Le Soleal will then continue to sail eastward to reach the sublime landscapes of Alaska, including glaciers, old-growth forest, luxuriant vegetation, and superb bays where grizzlies roam.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Fly from South Korea to Petropavlovsk. Transfer to the pier to board the ship. Embark the vessel in the afternoon for introductions to crew and fellow travelers. Settle in to life on board as your voyage begins.
During your cruise, discover an exceptional site: Unalaska Island and its port, Dutch Harbor. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, on the Aleutian Islands, Dutch Harbor is the only deep water port in the archipelago. As for the island itself, it offers you unique landscapes: volcanic summits swept by the wind and surrounded by the sea, lush green valleys, sometimes covered with bright summer flowers, sometimes with deep winter snow… Unalaska is not only an island with astonishing nature and very varied wildlife, it is also rich in history, where ancient indigenous cultures and remains from World War II can be seen and their tales be told.
After a short Zodiac journey between the rocks in the company of your naturalist-guides, you will land in this former village of which many vestiges remain. Originally called Ougnagok by the Aleuts, this small hamlet, which was home to some 100 inhabitants in the 19th century, was renamed Delarof, after Evstratii Ivanovich Delarov. While working for the Shelikhov-Golikov Company, he was the first Greek mariner to discover the Aleutian Islands. These days, this small ghost-village now overrun by willowherb is called Unga. When your cruise calls here, you will have the opportunity to visit the Aleutian Islands’ forest and perhaps explore the former gold mine.
Here you are in the heart of Katmai National Park and Preserve. Here, the rocky cliffs are punctuated with white marks. These are the remains of ash deposits that accumulated following a volcanic eruption in the past. Board your Zodiac and, a little further south, explore every part of Geographic Harbor and its tall cliffs covered in vegetation and plunging into the sea. Along the sandy beach, grizzly bears improvise hunting sessions, in search of fish and clams. In the thickets, these omnivores eat berries, roots, and grasses. Brown bears are at home here and the presence of humans doesn’t seem to disturb them. This makes for a fascinating and unforgettable show.
In the heart of the stunning Katmai nature reserve, renowned for its bewitching landscapes of rivers and lakes, discover Kinak Bay. This bay is more sheltered than Geographic Harbor. At the end of a narrow passage where strong currents flow, it leads to a few small beaches that are each more charming than the next. You have arrived at Hidden Harbor. Stay alert: a large colony of brown bears reigns here. They love to wander along the coast and dip their paws in the clear currents in the hope of catching a salmon. As for the bear cubs, they prefer to catch seabirds on the beach. Look up and you might spot two or three bald eagles, proudly perched on the cliffs.
Exceptional scenery surrounds you. You are in Aialik Bay, in the heart of a gigantic fjord located in Kenai Fjords National Park. Your ship is heading towards the vertiginous slopes of Holgate Glacier, which is still very active. Regularly, blocks of ice break free from its snout and crash into the water. This phenomenon, called calving, is magnificent to witness. During your Zodiac outing, you will get closer to this ever-fascinating world of ice. In this mineral setting, sea otters and spotted seals will observe you as they bask in the golden rays of sunshine, while gulls and seagulls feast on fish trapped by the ebbing tide.
Disembark the vessel after breakfast. Transfer to the airport for you flight to Seattle.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.
One-way flight from Seoul to Petropavlosvk; one-way flight from Juneau to Seattle; transfer from Petropavlosvk airport to ship; transfer from ship to Juneau airport; Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner; coffee, juice, soft drinks and open bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands); gratuities; parka; boot rental; luggage transfer from pier to the ship and vice versa; 24-hour room service (special selection); butler service is included for guests staying on Deck 6. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare not mentioned as included; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones included; passport and visa fees; travel and medical insurances; personal expenses such as onboard medical consultations and drug prescriptions, spa, internet, laundry and hair salon; other drinks not included in open bar; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Wolfgang Kaehler, © Laure Patricot, © Ponant