Summary : Known for their striking designs, the Metlakatla and Tsimshian totem poles are gravity defying works of art like no other. The imprint of the tribes is everywhere, and their native art carvings are prolific. The historic past is enhanced by the natural majesty of the region—from the vast Hubbard Glacier to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary where the elements shine in full force. Trace winding fjords to hear the crackle of Holgate Glacier as it calves new icebergs. Visit Alaska’s capital city of Juneau and tour the Tongass National Forest by land and sea. Nature lovers will delight not just in sweeping mountain and fjord views but also sightings of bald eagles, humpback whales, orca whales, Stellar sea lions and harbor seals. Throughout the voyage, learn about the geology, wildlife and botany of these locations from lecture presentations offered by your knowledgeable on board Expedition Team.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark ship and settle in. 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.
Johnstone Strait is the main route through the maze of islands between, Vancouver Island and the mainland coasts of British Columbia and Washington State. Captain George Vancouver first charted this area in 1792 and named the strait in honor of James Johnstone, the Master of the accompanying survey ship the HMS Chatham. The scenery is of a rugged beauty with steep walls, tumbling waterfalls, and snow-capped mountain. There are only a few scattered settlements, but there is abundant marine and bird wildlife.
Since the late 19th century, Metlakatla has been the major settlement of the Metlakatla Indian Community of the federally recognized Annette Islands Reserve, the only remaining reservation in Alaska. It is located on Annette Island, and in 2010 had 1,405 residents. Membership in the community is primarily by lineage and is comprised primarily of Tsimshian people. Metlakatla comes from a Tsimshian word meaning "Salt Water Passage."
Rudyerd Bay is one of the highlights of the Misty Fiords, 40 miles east of Ketchikan, along the Inside Passage. This fjord cuts through steep-sided mountainous terrain and extends far into the mainland. The scenery is stunning with dramatic thousand-foot waterfalls plunging down rainforest covered cliffs to the water below.
Walker Cove, located just 41.8 miles from Ketchikan, extends about 8.5 miles into the mainland. The scenery is stunning with towering rock walls on both side and hundreds of waterfalls plunging down into the fjord. There is always the possibility of seeing bears, harbor seals, and Bald Eagles along the shoreline. The British explorer George Vancouver noted this bay on his chart in 1793, although there was no mention of it in his log. It was named after Dr. William Walker, the physician on board the HMS Chatham.
Ketchikan is famous for its colorful totem poles, rainy skies, steep–as–San Francisco streets, and lush island setting. Some 13,500 people call the town home, and, in the summer, cruise ships crowd the shoreline, floatplanes depart for Misty Fiords National Monument, and salmon-laden commercial fishing boats motor through Tongass Narrows. In the last decade Ketchikan's rowdy, blue-collar heritage of logging and fishing has been softened by the loss of many timber-industry jobs and the dramatic rise of cruise-ship tourism.
The Wrangell Narrows is one of the most scenic and well-known ‘Narrows’ in Alaska. It is a winding 22 mile long channel between Mitlof Island and Kupreanof Island in Southeast Alaska. There are about 60 lights and buoys to mark it because of its navigation hazards. It was originally named in 1838 by G. Lindenberg to honor Admiral Baron Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangell, a Baltic German explorer who was the chief manager of the Russian-American Company and governor of the Russian settlements in Alaska. For the past 150 years it has been a principal marine thoroughfare to Alaska.
Petersburg lies on the northern end of Mitkof Island, in the Inside Passage, on the banks of Frederick Sound where it joins the Wrangell Narrows. It is halfway between Juneau, 120 miles to the north, and Ketchikan 110 miles to the south. Remnants of fish traps and ancient petroglyphs indicate that this area was used by the Tlingit people as a summer fish camp. In 1897 Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant, settled here. The place was named Petersburg after him, and was incorporated as a town in 1910.
Sail Island is one of the many small, narrow islands located in Frederick Sound, in the inside passage of Alaska. It is home to the largest of all sea lions, the Stellar Sea Lions, and they are often seen hauled out on the rocky shores, lazing around in the sun. The waters surrounding Sail Island are well known as a place where the magnificent humpback whales congregate to feed.
Stephen’s Passage is an important short cut for ships traveling south from Juneau, Alaska. It is bordered by Admiralty Island to the west and the mainland to the east and runs about 105 miles. It was named in 1794 by Captain George Vancouver, an English officer of the Royal Navy known for his 1791–1795 expedition, of North America's north-western Pacific Coast, in honor of Sir Philip Stephens, Lord Commissioner of the British Admiralty. It’s not only ships that use the passage—many whales migrate through these calm waters.
Endicott Arm is a long fjord branching off Stephen’s Passage, the major inner passage heading southeast from Juneau. The easternmost tip of Endicott Arm nearly reaches the Canadian border. Like all the fords in this region, it was carved by glaciers during the last Ice Age which ended about 11,000 years ago. On either side of the fjord the steep, nearly vertical walls, rise to a height of about 1,200 feet. Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees manage to cling onto the rock faces, adding to the breath-taking beauty of the landscape.
Juneau, Alaska's capital and third-largest city, is on the North American mainland but can't be reached by road. The city owes its origins to two colorful sourdoughs (Alaskan pioneers)—Joe Juneau and Richard Harris—and to a Tlingit chief named Kowee, who led the two men to rich reserves of gold at Snow Slide Gulch, the drainage of Gold Creek around which the town was eventually built. That was in 1880, and shortly thereafter a modest stampede resulted in the formation of a mining camp, which quickly grew to become the Alaska district government capital in 1906.
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.
The Inian Islands are a group of scenic islands located in the frigid waters of Icy Strait. They lie between the northern tip of Chichagof Island and Glacier Bay National Park. They are included as part of the Tongass National Forest and are renowned for the forest of stunted trees that are the result of extreme ocean weather. In 1990, the federal government recognized the islands’ pristine condition and ecological, geological, and scenic, values, by declaring them a Wilderness area under the federal Wilderness Act, and is managed by the Forest Service.
The southeast Alaska community of Elfin Cove lies on the northern shore of Chichagof Island, 70 miles west of Juneau and 33 miles west of Hoonah, and is only accessible by small seaplane or boat. It has a total area of 10.7 square miles of land and 0.1 square miles of water. Historical accounts suggest the well-protected, flask-shaped harbor was originally called "Gunkhole" by local fishermen seeking anchorage. Its safe anchorage and close proximity to fair-weather fishing grounds made this natural harbor an optimal location for fish buyers and supplies.
Hubbard Glacier, off the coast of Yakutat, Alaska, is the largest glacier in North America, with a calving front that is more than six miles wide. One of the main sources for Hubbard Glacier originates 76 miles inland. It has been a very active glacier, experiencing two major surges in the past 30 years. This glacier was named after Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a U.S. lawyer, financier, and philanthropist. He was the first president of the National Geographic Society.
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.
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.
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. The bears are the only ones who 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.
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.
The Triplets are a cluster of islands tucked into Marmot Bay just north of the great Kodiak Island. These small islands are appreciated for their picturesque beauty. The Triplets appear out of the water like great rocks topped in lush greenery, with the view of the beautiful mountain-lined bay behind them. Lucky visitors will likely spot Tufted Puffins, which can be seen in flocks of hundreds depending on the season.
The Chiswell Islands are part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and deservedly so. Small bays, inlets and sea cliffs are populated by innumerable seabirds including Black-legged Kittiwakes, Pelagic Cormorants, Horned and Tufted Puffins, as wells as guillemots, auklets and murrelets. The Chiswell Islands are blessed with towering cliffs and sea caves offering up spectacular scenery and a Steller sea lion rookery that bustles as the marine mammals commute to feeding grounds, socialize, and care for their pups.
Kenai Fjords National Park’s famous Holgate Glacier is a spectacularly active river of ice. The surrounding glaciated landscape paints a dramatic portrait of the rugged mountains in contrast to the cold blue ice of the glacier. On approach, the waters leading up to Holgate Glacier may be peppered with bits of ice and the crackling noise of ancient air bubbles being released from small bergs. Periodically loud cannon-like blasts emanate from the glacier, and some are accompanied by calving events off the ice front. Gulls frequently sit on the small icebergs while harbor seals ply the icy waters.
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 accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship; onboard meals; butler service onboard ship; 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.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Richard Sidey (bear cub), © Daniela Plaza (orcas)