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Alaska and Russian Far East

Alaska Russian Far East Cruise

Summary : Follow in the footsteps of early traders and explorers and discover the wilds of Russia and Alaska. Far from the tourist highway, learn of the bloody history and fascinating culture of a region that has been barely touched by human hand. Enjoy spectacular birding opportunities in the fjords and glaciers all the while keeping your cameras on the horizon for brown bears and Red and Arctic foxes.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins

PRICING

Prices from
$14,400 to $40,900

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Itinerary
Day 1
Otaru, Japan

Embark the ship.

Day 2
Korsakov, Russia

Korsakov is used as a technical stop for ships clearing in and out of Russia. In addition to being a port of call for these formalities, the city was once home to an Ainu fishing village frequented by regional traders and early Russian expeditions. History also indicates that there may have been a significant Japanese population here before the Russians started to build a town. Between the end of the Russo-Japanese War and the end of World War II, the town, then called Otamari, was Japanese.

Day 3
Tyuleniy Island, Russia

Thousands of Northern fur seals and Steller sea lions call Tyuleniy Island their home. The island is appropriately named, as the word tyuleniy means “seal” in Russian. During the summer months, tens of thousands of seals and sea lions haul ashore here during the breeding season. The cacophony of their barks, belches, grunts and groans is difficult to imagine. Bulls, their harems, and many thousands of young black pups all jostle for space on the crowded beaches that flank the small rocky island. Alongside the marine mammals, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Slaty-backed Gulls, Tufted Puffins, Common Murres and Pelagic Cormorants summer on the busy shores in the thousands. The profusion of wildlife is offset by a few abandoned and decaying buildings that harken back to a productive Russian fishery that used to operate here. Russian scientists are stationed on the island to check the fauna on the island.

Day 4
At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, or catching up on your reading, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 5
Yankicha Island, Russia

Any articles published about the Kuril Islands are likely to linger over the impressive Yankicha Island. It is the southernmost of two islets forming Ushishir Island. Yankicha is distinct in having at its center a caldera that is accessible by small boat only during high tide. Inside this extraordinary lagoon are fumaroles and hot springs, both traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago. Fortunate visitors may encounter Arctic foxes or the rare Whiskered Auklet. From the sea, the number of auklets around the island is truly incredible. The island is a nature reserve for birds, and crafty foxes contentedly live off the vast number of breeding birds that nest on the slopes between craggy boulders and stones.

Day 6
Atlasova Island

The near-perfect cone of Alaid volcano dominates Atlasova Island with its 2000-meter (6,500-foot) peak. It is the highest volcano in the Kuril Islands and over time generated the black lava beaches and the eroding Taketomi tufa cone near the landing site. At one time a gulag, a labor camp (in this specific case for women), was located on Atlasova. The women, many of them political prisoners during the Soviet rule, were sent here to raise foxes for fur. Peregrine Falcons can sometimes be spotted flying above the beach, while buzzards, Eurasian Wigeons, and Tufted Ducks have all been observed on the island. The symmetrical volcanic island also plays a key role in the region's native folklore.

Day 7
Utashud Island, Russia

Three small islands form Utashud and seem to be the remnants of a former volcano raising 80 meters (262 feet) out of Vestinik Bay. Although the island is deprived of forest, fragments of giant petrified trees have been found on its shores. Utashud is one of the richest islands on the southeastern side of Kamchatka in terms of wildlife. The island is notable for its population of sea otters (up to 300 individuals). In fact, native people from Kamchatka used to visit this island to hunt for sea otters, valuing the thick fur of their pelts. Steller’s Sea Eagles, brown bears, harbor seals, spotted seals, grey whales and at least 10 species of seabirds are known to frequent the islands.

Day 8
Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky, Russia

Majestic volcanoes and stacked mountains layer Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky with one of the world’s most epic backdrops. A business-like city of everyday life, set amid this utterly extraordinary scenery, Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky is a staggering visit to a land where volcanoes churn, geysers spurt, and geothermic pools simmer. Glaciers slowly carve out magnificent valleys, while the meltwater fuels roaring rivers, rapids and waterfalls. A far easterly outpost, cut off from the rest of the world’s road network, the only way in and out is via sea or air. Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, there is no shortage of natural spectacles and amazing scenery to enjoy - with lively geothermal displays, and colossal forces plotting below the earth’s surface. No fewer than 29 active volcanoes brood in this stunning wilderness, while dozens more extinct ones punctuate its skies.

It’s hard to prepare for the beauty of Avacha Bay - as you’re welcomed by the three claw-like rocks of the Tri Brata formations, and spot sea lions yawning on the bay. Admire the Koryaksky volcano – a perfectly formed cone of snow, and a mighty volcano that last erupted in 2008. You may still see wisps of smoke emanating from its towering peak. Look out for the bright yellow beak of the Steller's sea eagles, the biggest and heaviest eagles in the world. The waters, teeming with Pacific salmon, draw keen anglers here, in the hopes of landing the big one. Elsewhere, the wondrous Kamchatka Valley of Geysers is a choreographed natural demonstration of power, with plumes of mist firing up into the sky along its expanse.

Day 9
Date Line - Gain a Day / Day at Sea / Attu Island, Alaska, U.S.

On a world map Attu Island marks the westernmost point of the United States. It is also the site of the only WWII battle fought on North American soil. More than three thousand five hundred American and Japanese soldiers lost their lives at the aptly named Massacre Bay on Attu’s southeastern coast. Today the island is an ornithologist’s paradise visited by an array of birds migrating through as they come or go to Asia with the seasons. Peregrine Falcons, Lapland Longspur and Aleutian Canada Goose might be spotted in the summer months.

Day 10
Kiska Harbor, Aleutian Islands

Russian traders following Vitus Bering in the mid-1700s would have been some of the first non-native explorers to visit Kiska Harbor on Kiska Island in the Aleutian chain. The Japanese occupied the island during WWII and relics of war have been left behind in the harbor including a Japanese two-man submarine. The occupying force of 6,000 soldiers also left a Shinto shrine behind whose remains can still be seen today. Ashore there are ptarmigans, Lapland Longspurs and Bald Eagles. At a distance, the cliffs of Sirius Point can only be described as “magical” and are home to Least and Crested Auklets, Peregrine Falcons and Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses.

Day 11
At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, or catching up on your reading, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 12
Seguam Island, Alaska

Seguam Island is made up of several stratovolcanoes in the Andreanof Islands group in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. The island contains two calderas, one of them having erupted as recently as 1993. The mountainous oval-shaped island covers an area of just over 200 square kilometers or 80 square miles. The stark beauty of this remote island is offset by the chilly surrounding waters known for occasional whale sightings.

Day 13
Dutch Harbor, Alaska

With bald eagles soaring overhead, emerald-green volcanic peaks chafing the clouds, and raw ocean scenery as far as the eye can see, this far-flung destination is the definition of remote and wild. Part of the outlying Aleutian Islands archipelago, which spirals out across the Bering Sea into the wilds of the Pacific, Dutch Harbor offers a dramatic backdrop and rich military history - as one of the few pieces of US soil to be directly attacked by the Japanese during World War II. The town settles into the embrace of a vast deep-water harbour, which helps to protect from the unpredictable churn of the Bering Sea. Enjoy hikes along coastal trails to birdwatch among more than 100 different species – and look on as huge clouds of cawing seabirds float on gusts of wind, filling the air with their raucous calls.

Dutch Harbor’s waters are also teeming with life, and giant whales cruise between the waves, parting the surface with effortless flicks of their vast tales. Dutch Harbor is famous for its crab fishing industry – a dangerous, challenging pursuit - and the town is well known to many Americans as the setting of the television show Deadliest Catch. Test out your sea-stomach by joining a crew aboard an authentic fishing vessel, seeing first-hand how they trawl these waters for rich hauls of cod and pollock, in one of the most productive and bountiful spots for fishing in the world. Or keep it steadier on land, and take a relaxed afternoon to test out your own skills, rod in hand.

Day 14
Unga Island, Alaska

The Aleutian island of Unga holds an ancient petrified wood forest and a more recent ghost town that was the site of a small gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The village was eventually abandoned in the 1960s and now has a somewhat somber appearance. Many of the houses have collapsed and are overgrown with brilliant fuchsia fireweed wildflowers. From a distance the church looks intact, but up closer it is apparent that the roof is standing on the ground, and the walls have completely collapsed. Great Horned Owls nest near the church and in the bay kittiwakes, Double Crested and Pelagic Cormorants, Common Murres and Tufted Puffins can be seen.

Day 15
Castle Bay, Alaska

Castle Bay lies immediately west of Tuliumnit or Castle Point. The rugged sandstone tower and pinnacle formations give the point and the bay their names. The bay is several miles long with a entrance about two mile wide.

Day 16
Kodiak Island, Alaska

Larsen Bay is one of the hotspots of commercial and sports fishing on Kodiak Island’s western side. The village of Larsen Bay is home to one of the oldest standing canneries on Kodiak Island. Situated in a scenic valley at the mouth of a narrow fjord, the small village of Larsen Bay lies within Kodiak Island’s National Wildlife Refuge, which covers the southwestern part of Kodiak Island. Wildlife near Larsen Bay includes Kodiak brown bears, seals and sea lions, as well as eagles and puffins.

Day 17
Chiswell Islands / Holgate Glacier, Alaska

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 in search of their next meal.

Day 18
Seward, Alaska

Disembark the ship after breakfast and transfer to the airport.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. 

Travel Insurance:
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage 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.

Included:
Transfers between airport and ship; shipboard accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship; parka; backpack; one voyage highlights USB per cabin; all meals onboard ship; butler service onboard ship; self-serve laundrette; most beverages onboard ship; gratuities (except spa) onboard ship. Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests also receive: laundry service and dinner at Officer's table. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; 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

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