By Meg Rand
Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of traveling with my girlfriend’s family aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion to Alaska’s Inside Passage, from Juneau to Sitka. This breathtaking destination not only touched each of as individuals (in a way that only the humbling beauty of Alaska can do), but it was a truly magical experience to share as a family.
Converging from three different cities in the U.S., Robin and I met her parents, her brother, and their 7-year old niece in Juneau, and embarked together for a 7-day voyage of marvel and discovery – beholding hours of dramatic calving glaciers, sitting in the mist of sky-high waterfalls, watching the uninhibited movement of wildlife, sea kayaking through glacier-carved fjords, hiking on bear trails, absorbing every moment of exhilarating Zodiac trips around pristine coastline, and raving about the three incredible meals served each day (which somehow managed to cater to our wide variety of tastes). And the list goes on!
We had up-close experiences with humpback whales, harbor seals (with their pups!), bald eagles, barking sea lions, puffins, mountain goats, brown bears, owls, and so many more amazing creatures. We took over 2,000 photographs, which we are still sharing and talking about nearly a year later. Seven year-old Miri loved the opportunity to spend quality time with her grandparents, ‘Mimi’ and ‘PopPop’. She delighted in playing the Native American flute in duet, taking a sea plane ride over the LeConte glacier area with her Uncle ‘D’, and learning how to sea kayak and use binoculars like a pro with her Aunt Robin. She is growing up so very fast, and all five grown-ups treasured the chance to spend time with her, and draw pictures of the animals we had seen each day. Watching the sheer enchantment she expressed at each new activity and sight afforded us the brief opportunity to see the world through the wonder-filled eyes of a kid again.
Reflecting on this amazing experience, I asked the others what our family expedition meant to them…
"Living across the country from my family ever since college has often meant having to choose between using my limited vacation time to travel to a new place I've always wanted to see, or getting to spend time with the people I care about back home. Our expedition to Alaska last summer was a perfect way to get to do both at the same time. And talk about unforgettable family photos!"Robin G.
"Traveling with Lindblad/National Geographic has always been special to my husband and me. It was a joy for us to be able to share such an experience in Alaska last summer with our grown children as well as our seven-year-old granddaughter. Our ship, the Sea Lion was just the right size for us to be together at times but also free to engage in our own preferred activities. I particularly enjoyed the Zodiac rides when our family was together. Special memories were made and will be reinforced with the many photos and videos that we continue to enjoy.""Mimi" G.
"I loved to travel with my family because they are someone I can trust and I love them. I had lots of fun. With PopPop I had fun looking at the animals a lot. With Mimi I had fun playing games inside her cabin. With Uncle D I had fun making videos. With Aunt Robin I had fun kayaking. With Meg I had fun lounging. The whole trip was my favorite memory. But to choose one, I guess it was the sights. Especially when a whale jumped up and landed on its back. I also liked the mountain goats, eagles and bears a lot."Miri L.
"It was a joy to be with Miri immersed in all this wonderment. She can now handle binoculars and a spotting scope. She can kayak and get off a Zodiac for a wet landing. It was also great spending time with our adult children, whom we don’t see all that often. My wife and I couldn’t be happier.""Pop Pop" G.
Expedition travel to a place like Alaska presents an incredible opportunity for families to not only enjoy the fun and memorable sights, sounds and adventures in real time as they’re happening – but to keep them alive forever after through recounting stories of these unforgettable shared moments. In fact, we found that we were such good traveling partners, that the six of us are together again on the Sea Lion, this time in Costa Rica and the Panama Canal!