Summary : Alaska offers amazing landscapes and experiences: gigantic glaciers, steep mountains, waterfalls, giant sequoias, and infinite tundra. Watch wildlife such as elks, black bear, caribous, sea otters, orcas, humpback whales, and bald eagles. You'll explore the Pribilof Islands and discover Tlingit Indian traditions, and Alaskan towns rich with historical vestiges from the time of the Gold Rush. Intersperse ports of calls with navigation aboard the elegant Le Soleal and excursions by Zodiacs to the heart of fjords and landscapes that are out of this world.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Fly from Seattle to Nome. Transfer to the pier to board the ship. Embark the vessel in the early evening for introductions to crew and fellow travelers. Settle in to life on board as your voyage begins.
Part of the earth’s history was written between Alaska and Russia. Aboard your ship, discover the origins of the world, a unique environment that seems to stretch out to infinity. Lost in the middle of the Bering Sea, the Pribilof archipelago is made up of four volcanic islands where nature has crafted exquisitely beautiful landscapes. Here, on the islands, you will find majestic volcanoes, lava deserts and crater lakes, offering travelers a magnificent vantage point from which to observe a fauna composed almost exclusively of fur seals.
Located in the middle of the Bering sea, Saint-George Island is the second biggest island of the Pribilof archipelago. A special atmosphere emanates from this landscape of volcanic craters and tundra: wild lands surrounded by a sumptuous coastline of majestic cliffs. You may very well spot some migratory birds that come and settle here all year round, making this a perfect place for observing many different species. Fur seas, also called Pribilof seals, have made this haven of peace their home with its rich biodiversity.
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.
Formerly a Russian colony located on Baranof Island, to the west of the Alexander archipelago, Sitka is brimming with history. The historical national park of Sitka shelters totems carved out of red cedar, a tree that is omnipresent in the region. These totems are testimonials of the former presence of Tlingit Indians. This place is full of natural wonders too. You just have to look up to admire the mountain range around the port. In the distance, the snow-peaked Edgecumbe volcano stands majestic. Numerous islands scattered around Sitka stretch out before you in a vision of preserved Alaska.
Situated on Baranof Island, Hoggatt Bay’s landscapes are exactly what most people expect to see on a picture-postcard of Alaska. Surrounded by mountains, it is home to very dense forests where the evapo-transpiration phenomenon is clearly visible (emission of water vapor resulting from evaporation and plant transpiration). In this enchanting setting, some grizzly bears feast on seaweed, shellfish, and even grass that they find along the beaches, while others prefer simply to fish for salmon in the river.
Wild and extraordinary, Prince Rupert is a dynamic town where the open spaces are “larger than nature”. Located on the remote Kaien Island, off the coast of British Columbia, this little town founded in 1910 witnessed the history of the North West Pacific with the birth of American Indian nations, such as the Haida and Gitksan. During this port of call, make a point of admiring its grandiose landscapes where more than 300 pairs of bald eagles have made a home here; its picturesque residential districts where the sea mist often lingers; and its famous Museum of Northern British Columbia, home to a large collection of ancient totems.
Right near the north coast of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, hides the small wooded island of Cormorant. Surrounded by pebble beaches, it offers wonderful opportunities for hikes and for whale watching. The surrounding waters are also home to harbor seals, orcas, Steller sea lions, dolphins, and a multitude of seabirds. When your ship calls at Alert Bay, a small sheltered fishing port located in the island’s south, set off to discover the indigenous culture and its traditions. The ‘Namgis community, which is part of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations, lives here in harmony with the other village inhabitants.
Your ship will sail along Discovery Passage, between Vancouver Island and Quadra Island. As the channel tapers, you will arrive at Seymour Narrows, which in the past posed a significant challenge for sailors. But in 1955, the decision was made to blow up Ripple Rock, and this historic explosion made access to this passage much safer.
Disembark the vessel after breakfast.
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 in economy class Seattle to Nome; transfer from Nome airport to ship; meals on board the ship; 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