Summary : Travel with a team of highly qualified expedition experts from Seward, Alaska, down along the Southeast Alaskan coastline to Vancouver, British Columbia. From searching for the tiny hummingbird to the mighty Bald Eagle, a wide and varied program is promised. Expert lecturers take you on thrilling excursions to show you the remarkable wildlife, indigenous cultures and magnificent landscapes of these remote lands. As mighty glaciers rise up from the frigid waters and Orcas breach for your camera, experience an Alaskan adventure as never before.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Explorer and settle in. You will attend a safety briefing and be introduced to your Expedition Team. Weather permitting have a sail-away cocktail on deck. Familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travelers and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
During the morning Silver Explorer will enter Prince William Sound and will be heading for an area first visited by the Harriman Expedition in 1899 and named by the participants for prominent East Coast Colleges. Although the expedition was predominantly male it had been decided to name the tidewater and valley glaciers in a specific way: men’s colleges on the eastern side, women’s colleges on the western side.
On your way out of College Fjord you might take a Zodiac cruise in through Esther Passage. On your portside see mainland Alaska, while on starboard will be Esther Island.
After cruising the Gulf of Alaska, Silver Explorer will approach Kayak Island, a historical landmark as this was the only island in Alaska where Georg Steller landed during the Bering Expedition of 1740.
Cape Elias, on its southern tip, not only has an automated lighthouse and a log-strewn shore, but during a Zodiac cruise a few haul-outs of Steller sea lions on the flat rocks might be spotted. Some of the island’s haul-outs are quite large, containing several huge males and their harems of females. On the water rafts of Short-tailed Shearwaters and Red-necked Phalaropes are not uncommon.
During the afternoon at sea lectures will prepare you for the upcoming experiences. Perhaps you would like to know about the different expeditions that have chartered Alaska or want to find out what birds and mammals call this part of the world their home — attend one of the lectures by your experts and specialists on board.
Cruise the Gulf of Alaska, take the opportunity to scan the waters for whales from the outer decks. You will be getting closer and closer to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve to which Malaspina Glacier and Hubbard Glacier belong. In the evening the Captain will take Silver Explorer into Icy Bay, a large scenic fjord that only opened up in the last hundred years after significant glacial reduction. Mount St. Elias should make a perfect backdrop for photographs of this bay.
Shortly after breakfast, the ship will be in front of Hubbard Glacier and depending on conditions will either cruise with Zodiacs or Silver Explorer will be taken along the front of the Hubbard Glacier and while cruising hope to see some glacier calvings.
During the afternoon visit the community of Yakutat and have the opportunity to see the indigenous St. Elias dance performance at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, listening to traditional songs by the Tlingit tribe.
This morning visit the small community of Elfin Cove where you will have good opportunities to go for a walk on wooden boardwalks, exploring the unusual set-up of the village. At Inian Island you will be going on a spectacular Zodiac cruise, searching for some of the emblematic animals of Alaska: Bald Eagles, Steller sea lions, and humpback whales. The Zodiac cruise will permit you to be up close to the wildlife.
During the evening Silver Explorer will be near Point Adolphus, a well-known area for whale watching. Enjoy an aperitif while you are on the outer decks, looking for humpback whales as well as orcas, or simply enjoying the landscape.
Today be prepared for a very early wake-up call if you want to see the Sergius Narrows which separate Chichagof and Catherine Islands.
In the late morning Silver Explorer will arrive in Sitka, one of Alaska’s major fishing ports and communities. Sitka’s past has seen Tlingit settle the area thousands of years ago, Russians coming to trade in the late 18th century and the United States taking over through the Alaska purchase in 1867.
Apart from exploring the town itself, there are trails within the Sitka National Historic Park/Totem Park that will permit you to see some of the emblematic totem poles and the Russian Bishop’s House, a National Historic Landmark.
Otherwise join a Jet-Cat wildlife viewing adventure aboard a deluxe expedition catamaran, and step ashore on a remote island to explore the rugged coast. Your expert naturalists will accompany you on your quest for whales, sea otters, puffins, Bald Eagles or even brown bears in pristine Sitka Sound. Depending on tides and weather you might also be beachcombing, looking for tide pools and tracing wildlife tracks.
Silver Explorer will be at Sail Island before breakfast to scan the area surrounding the island for whales. Humpback whales like this area and you might see them from Zodiacs. The Marine Biologist and other experts will be looking for these leviathans during the morning and therefore be prepared to join all those interested on a Zodiac cruise at a moment’s notice.
During the morning Silver Explorer will be at anchor in front of Annette Island, Alaska. The Tsimshian of Metlakatla are famous for their Totem Poles. During the visit of the town see at least 12 of these emblematic pieces of art and experience a dance performance at their longhouse. Apart from the ceremony, see the William Duncan Memorial Museum to understand their culture and history, specifically why and when they moved to Annette Island. You can also take one of the many trails around Skaters Lake getting an insight into the different plants used by the Tsimshian.
During lunchtime Silver Explorer will sail to reach Ketchikan. Ketchikan is one of the larger towns of the area and will offer a variety of exciting options. Today you may choose to participate in a truly unique “Wilderness Exploration & Crab Feast” that will bring you by boat right to the heart of Southeast Alaska and the awe inspiring Tongass National Forest, ending in a crab feast you will remember.
You may also choose to participate in a truly unique “Alaskan Wilderness Survival” program. Travel by local boat with a wilderness skills instructor to a remote island where he will lead your small group through an old-growth rainforest and show you a few tricks of the survivalist’s trade. This hands-on experience engages all in tasks like building a shelter, collecting wild edibles, and signalling from the beach. Back aboard the vessel, you will haul sampling pots in search of the elusive (and invasive) green crab and other fascinating creatures that inhabit the ocean floor.
Alternatively depart the pier for the scenic, eight-mile (13-kilometer) coastal drive en route to the private Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary, an exclusive reserve located in the forested mountains at rustic Herring Cove. Enjoy a guided rainforest walk where your guide will bring to life the local flora and fauna and provide you an in depth look at the Tongass National Rainforest.
Located within the Tongass National Forest is the wilderness area and Misty Fjords National Monument. Extending over 2.3 million acres it is the largest wilderness area in Alaska’s forests and the second largest in the nation. It has been described as an almost untouched coastal ecosystem with outstanding geological features, and Misty Fjords National Monument is sometimes called “The Yosemite of the North” so be prepared for a broad spectrum of wildlife during the early morning in and around Walker Cove. During your Zodiac explorations be looking in the air for Marbled Murrelets, which unlike most members of the auk family nest in trees, and Bald Eagles, brown and black bears on the ground, and harbor seals and sea otters in the water.
Another destination this afternoon will be Rudyerd Bay, promising interesting Zodiac cruises looking for marine mammals and birds.
Before breakfast, Silver Explorer will arrive in Prince Rupert, the “City of Rainbows”, your point of entry into Canada — and Canada’s “Gateway to the North”.
Prince Rupert’s port is the deepest natural harbor in North America and ice-free all year round, making it an ideal port for cargo between Asia and North America since it is connected to the Canadian Railway, too. Fishing and lumber were once dominant, but tourism is becoming an important factor.
In Prince Rupert coaches will meet you at the dock to take you to tour the North Pacific Cannery, the longest running cannery in British Columbia (and now a museum), to better understand part of Prince Rupert’s economy. The North Pacific Historic Fishing Village is a National Historic Site and is the most complete cannery that remains of these remote villages that once dotted the West Coast.
While Silver Explorer sails south through Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, you might attend a workshop by the Photographer to edit the many photos taken so far, or join one of your experts for final lectures regarding Alaska and British Columbia. Or simply relax on the Sun Deck and enjoy being at sea.
Located near the northern entrance of Johnstone Strait, Alert Bay is a small but culturally and historically very rich village on Cormorant Island (named after HMS Cormorant). The Kwakwaka’wakw are well known for their art, and especially their carvings. Not only were totem poles of importance, masks were/are central to the representation of the different characters of their dances and feature prominently.
Spend the morning in Alert and see a cultural presentation and walk to the Memorial Totem Poles at the Namgis Burial Ground, one of the few places were the Totem Poles have not been disturbed nor removed. At the U’mista Cultural Centre take a walk into the past and hear about the potlatch system and the ancient way of life. The museum holds a precious collection of masks and artifacts previously confiscated during the potlatch ban from 1884 to 1951. At the Big House experience traditional First Nations songs and dances. The most important of the sacred dances is the Hamat’sa or cannibal dance. This dance is the re-enactment of a young man’s possession by a cannibal spirit living at the North End of the world.
During the afternoon cruise the Johnstone Strait. This spectacular waterway invites you to take in the scenery from the outer decks of Silver Explorer. The strait that is between 2.5 km and 5 km wide, 110 kilometers in length and is home to large numbers of orcas during the summer months. The largest member of the dolphin family, orcas (also known as killer whales) can measure nearly ten meters in length and weigh up to six tons.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
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.
Ship accommodation; Wi-Fi aboard ship; 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. Subject to change without notice.
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.
Photos: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Richard Sidey (bear cub), © Daniela Plaza (orcas)