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Alaska and Russian Far East

Alaska Cruise

Summary : Join a journey around the Kuril and Aleutian Islands—an incredible opportunity to witness the people and wildlife that thrive in this remote and wild part of the world. Experience distinctive cultural presentations in Korsakov on Sakhalin Island and in Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Take Zodiac cruises to find whales, seals, and brown bears. Observe Bald Eagles up close in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Hike the side of Yankicha Island to see the magnificent caldera. Enjoy landscapes that have barely been touched by human hands and take in springs and fumaroles that will remind you of just how active the ground is beneath your feet. Throughout the voyage, learn about the geology, wildlife and botany of this spectacular area from lecture presentations offered by your knowledgeable on board Expedition Team.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Otaru, Japan

Embark the vessel and be introduced to important members of the crew and Expedition Team. Familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travelers and in the evening enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.

Day 2
Korsakov

Korsakov is used as a technical stop for ships clearing in and out of Russia. In addition to being a port of call for these formalities, the city was once home to an Ainu fishing village frequented by regional traders and early Russian expeditions. History also suggests that there may have been a significant Japanese population here at one time with reports of a Japanese religious temple on record.

Day 3
Tyuleniy Island

Thousands of Northern fur seals and Steller sea lions call Tyuleniy Island their home. The island is appropriately named, as the word tyuleniy means “seal” in Russian. During the summer months, tens of thousands of seals and sea lions haul ashore here during the breeding season. The cacophony of their barks, belches, grunts and groans is difficult to imagine. Bulls, their harems, and many thousands of young pups all jostle for space on the crowded beaches that flank the small rocky island. Alongside the marine mammals, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Slaty-backed Gulls, and Tufted Puffins can be seen.

Day 4
At Sea

While you're at sea, enjoy wine tastings, designer boutiques, language and dance classes. 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 pool side. The choice is yours.

Day 5
Yankicha Island

Any articles published about the Kuril Islands are likely to linger over the impressive Yankicha Island. It is the southernmost of two islets forming Ushishir Island. Yankicha is distinct in having at its center a caldera that is accessible by small boat only during high tide. Inside this extraordinary lagoon are fumaroles and hot springs, both traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago. Fortunate visitors may encounter an Arctic fox or the rare Whiskered Auklet. Ashore it is also possible to see Arctic Warblers and Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warblers.

Day 6
Atlasova Island

The near-perfect cone of Alaid volcano dominates Atlasova Island with its 6,500-foot peak. It is the highest volcano in the Kuril Islands and over time generated the black lava beaches and the eroding Taketomi tufa limestone cone near the landing site. At one time a women’s prison, or gulag, was located on Atlasova. The women, many of them political prisoners during the Soviet rule, were sent here to raise foxes for fur. Peregrine Falcons can sometimes be spotted flying above the beach, while buzzards, Eurasian Wigeons, and Tufted Ducks have all been observed on the island.

Day 7
Petropavlovsk

The Kamchatka Peninsula is part of the Eastern frontier of Russia. Due to its close proximity to the United States, the region has played a strategic role in the defense of Russian territory throughout modern history. As a result, the territory was closed for many years to foreigners and Russians alike. Fortunately, the region's isolated position played a significant role in preserving and protecting its unique wilderness and rich biodiversity. With few roads, most regional transportation is by plane, boat, or helicopter.

Cross the date line and gain a day.

Day 8
Attu Island

On a world map Attu Island marks the westernmost point of the United States. It is also the site of the only WWII battle fought on North American soil. Over two thousand Japanese soldiers lost their lives at the aptly named Massacre Bay on Attu’s southeastern coast. Today the island is an ornithologist’s paradise visited by an array of birds migrating through as they come or go to Asia with the seasons. Peregrine Falcons, Lapland Longspur and Aleutian Canada Goose might be spotted in the summer months.

Day 9
Kiska Harbor

Russian traders led by Vitus Bering in the mid-1700s would have been some of the first non-native explorers to visit Kiska Harbor on Kiska Island in the Aleutian chain. The Japanese occupied the island during WWII and relics of war have been left behind in the harbor including a Japanese two-man submarine. The occupying force of 6,000 soldiers also left a Shinto shrine behind whose remains can still be visited today. Ashore there are ptarmigans, Lapland Longspurs and Bald Eagles. At a distance, the cliffs of Sirius Point can only be described as “magical”.

Day 10
At Sea

While you're at sea, enjoy wine tastings, designer boutiques, language and dance classes. 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 pool side. The choice is yours.

Day 11
Seguam Island

Seguam Island is made up of several stratovolcanoes in the Andreanof Islands group in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. The island contains two calderas, one of them having erupted as recently as 1993. The mountainous oval-shaped island covers an area of just over 80 square miles. The stark beauty of this remote island is offset by the chilly surrounding waters known for occasional whale sightings.

Day 12
Dutch Harbour, Unalaska / Baby Islands

The crumpled peaks, and tranquil scenery, of Dutch Harbor belies its history as one of the few places on American soil to have been directly attacked by the Japanese - who bombed the significant US military base here during the Second World War. Located on a string of islands, which loops down into the Pacific from Alaska, a visit to this Aleutian Island destination offers comprehensive military history, and extraordinary ocean scenery. Hike the volcanic, gloriously green landscapes, and look out for wonderful wildlife, like bald eagles, as they survey the surroundings.

The Baby Islands are a group of small volcanic islands that are part of the Fox Islands grouping of the Aleutian Islands, located 1.2 miles northeast of Unalga Island. While surrounding waters can be challenging to navigate, the Baby Islands are worth the visit, especially for birders as the small islands (ranging from 980 to 3,280 feet long) are important nesting grounds for some species that are rarely seen elsewhere. Birders may be most excited to see the small black and white Whiskered Auklets. On the island, one can also find puffins, petrels, guillemots, murrelets, and more.

Day 13
Unga Village / The Haystacks, Alaska

The Aleutian island of Unga holds an ancient petrified wood forest and a more recent ghost town that was the site of a small gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The village was eventually abandoned in the 1960s and now has a somewhat somber appearance. Many of the houses have collapsed and are overgrown with brilliant fuchsia fireweed wildflowers. From a distance the church looks intact, but up closer it is apparent that the roof is standing on the ground, and the walls have completely collapsed. Great Horned Owls nest near the church and in the bay you can see kittiwakes.

Day 14
Chignik / Aghiyuk Island

Chignik is a fishing village on the Alaskan Peninsula and home for just under 100 year-round inhabitants. Most of the houses in the community are connected by a boardwalk that fringes a local stream and neighborhood kids can be seen riding their bicycles back and forth on its length. In the summer months the population doubles, as the fishing gets better and the town supports a couple of fish-processing plants. Chignik is a remote outpost at the doorstep of the Aleutian Island chain and offers up a true taste of Alaskan outback life.

The dramatic rock formations of Aghiyuk Island jut out of the water as one of the dramatic Semedi Islands. The Semedi Islands are part of Kodiak Island Borough and are located southwest of Kodiak Island, about half way between the Alaska Peninsula mainland and Chirikof Island. Along with Choiet Island, Aghiyuk is one of the largest islands of the group, all of which are uninhabited. Part of the Alaska Peninsula unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, Aghiyuk is a great destination for spotting the beautiful black and white Horned Puffins.

Day 15
Uyak Bay

Uyak Bay embodies the quintessential Alaskan experience, with tree-lined mountains coming directly to the waterline in picturesque perfection. Uyak Bay is located on Kodiak Island’s western side, where beautiful waterfront lodges host visitors interested in accessing some of the best fishing in the Kodiak archipelago. In addition to fishing, the diverse wildlife nearby attracts visitors wanting to see the Kodiak brown bear, as well as sea lions, eagles, puffins, seals, and fox in their natural habitat. Visitors take in the wilderness to fully experience the beauty of this region.

Day 16
Geographic Harbor / Kukak Bay

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.

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.

Day 17
Kodiak Island

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.

Day 18
Seward, Alaska

After breakfast, disembark the vessel.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. 

Travel Insurance:
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Included:
Ship accommodation; onboard meals; butler service; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of complimentary wines, champagne and spirits); parka and backpack; all onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suite. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa options, fuel surcharge may apply.

Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises

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