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Alaska, Wrangel Island, and the Russian Arctic

Alaska Cruise

Summary : You’ll first reach Geographic Harbor, situated in the heart of the stunning Katmai National Park and Reserve. There is a strong chance you’ll be able to observe grizzlies, as they reign supreme here. Le Soleal will then make its way along the Alaska Peninsula, an emerged part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Here, each island is a volcano crowned with ice. The Aleutian Islands form a barrier between the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean, so the marine wildlife here is particularly abundant. Listed with UNESCO, the nature reserve on Wrangel Island is a unique ecosystem where the greatest biodiversity in the Arctic can be found. It is home to a large population of walruses, countless sea birds, and of course the polar bear.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Seattle, Washington / Anchorage / Seward, Alaska

Board your flight from Seattle to Anchorage. Transfer to the pier in Seward to board the ship.

Day 2
Geographic Harbor, Alaska

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. A little further south, you will explore every part of Geographic Harbor and its tall cliffs covered in vegetation and plunging into the sea.

Day 3
Chankliut Island, Alaska

Off the Alaska Peninsula hides the small gem of Chankliut. From mountainous terrain to flowery moors and valleys covered in sea lyme-grass, this island, which is part of the Aleutian archipelago, offers landscapes with a unique charm. During your walk around a lake, you will cross a sumptuous meadow where beautiful aconite and willowherb vie for attention. The more courageous will venture onward to the neighboring valley and its ancient calderas to admire the splendor of the scenery. This totally uninhabited island bears no trace of any past settlement. Small, curious heads will catch your attention, however: crested puffins and horned puffins bask on the water near spotted seals.

Day 4
Dutch Harbor, Unalaska

During your cruise, discover the exceptional site of 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.

Day 5
Saint Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

Part of the Earth’s History was written between Alaska and Russia. We invite you to discover 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 of Saint Paul and Saint George, 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. The archipelago is also renowned as a paradise for birds, especially on Saint Paul, as more than 240 different species of seabirds take flight from the top of its majestic cliff.

Day 6
St Matthew Island

Saint Matthew island is right in the middle of the Bering Sea, between Siberia and Alaska. Classified as a National Wildlife Refuge by the United States, this island covered in wet tundra corresponds to the northern boundary of the polar bear’s range during winter. It is home to many birds, including the McKay's bunting, an endemic species whose population is estimated at 6,000 individuals. We can also find Arctic foxes there. Although populated by the Aleut during prehistoric times Saint Matthew Island is uninhabited today.

Day 7 – 8
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the staff photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 9
Whale Bone Alley, Yttygran Island

Your ship nears the wild coast of Yttygran Island at the first light of dawn; discovered by Jean Malaurie in 1976, it is a holy place shrouded in mystery. On the silent beaches, bathed in a surreal light, lies Whale Bone Alley, the revered and sacred shamanic grounds of the Chukchi people. Along a stretch of beach, the Chukchi have carefully arranged hundreds of whale bones, skulls and jawbones in accordance with ancient rites and there they stand, proud and reaching for the astral sky.

Day 10
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the staff photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 11 – 14
Wrangel Island Reserve

Imagine a natural island that is mostly mountainous and, for the rest of its landscapes, alternates between vast tundra plains and areas of great lakes, lagoons and cliffs. Welcome to Wrangel, the most important hotspot of Arctic biodiversity. Situated between the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea, the island was named after the Russian explorer Ferdinand von Wrangel. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island is a rare, precious and very ancient ecosystem with unique vegetation, as well as an exceptional fauna. It is home to the majestic polar bear and the vast majority of the Russian Arctic’s walrus population. The island also holds traces of the last mammoths and is home to several endemic species.

Day 15
Big Diomede

From your Zodiac, discover Big Diomede, between Siberia and Alaska. This island located in the middle of the Bering Strait, is Russia’s most easterly point. Although it was once inhabited by the Inuit, it is now home to just a handful of Russian soldiers on a military base. Just a little further east, on the other side of the International Date Line, lies Little Diomede, an American island which Russia sold to the United States in 1867.

Day 16
Provideniya, Russia / At Sea

Across the Bering Strait from Alaska, which it almost touches and can be glimpsed when the weather is fine, the town of Provideniya seems to keep a watchful eye over ships heading for the East Siberian Sea. Nestled against mountains with peaks, Provideniya is the gateway to the Chukotka Peninsula, a polar region as yet unknown to the general public, with striking landscapes and a primitive beauty like no other.

Day 17
Nome, Alaska / Disembark / Seattle, Washington

Disembark the ship in Nome after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight to Seattle.

Notes

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.

Travel Insurance:
ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips 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.

Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.

Included:
One-way flight Seattle/Anchorage; one-way flight Nome/Seattle; transfer from Anchorage airport to ship; transfer from ship to Nome airport; shipboard accommodations; parka; gear on loan (boots); Wi-Fi onboard ship; all meals onboard ship; 24-hour room service onboard ship; most beverages onboard ship; gratuities onboard ship. Butler service is included for guests staying in Deck 6 Suites. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare other than what is 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, laundry and hair salon; premium alcohol; fuel surcharge may apply.

Photo Credit: © Wolfgang Kaehler, © Laure Patricot, © Ponant

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