We spend a day in the extraordinary Glacier Bay, home to 8 tidewater glaciers and dozens of other mountain glaciers. We will have opportunities to walk, kayak and/or take a skiff safari, and there is also plenty of opportunity for spectacular wildlife viewing from our vessel as we can get close in to some of the wildlife hotspots. We will visit The South Marble Islands, a great place to see sea lions, puffins, sea otters and a variety of other sea birds. There are often bears and mountain goats to be seen, either fishing in the outlets of salmon rivers or clinging to the seemingly sheer face of sea cliffs. While cruising around Admiralty Island we expect to see dozens, sometimes hundreds of Humpbacks, feeding, breathing, diving and breaching. We will go ashore at several points to walk in the forest or comb the beaches for marine wildlife, and there will be opportunities every day to kayak or take a skiff safari and we expect to see sea lions, harbour seals, bald eagles, sea otters and perhaps bears, orca and other whales. We will also visit the vast Dawes Glacier at the end of Endicott Arm, and the skipper will select some prime spots depending on the conditions and time of year to spend the days exploring and searching for wildlife. And with a bit of luck in September there is a chance to see the Aurora Borealis.
105-106; 207-214; 303; 305-306; 309-312 Queen, twins, or fixed double bed (105-106); view window; private bath with shower
301, 304, 313-314 Fold-down queen bed; large picture window; private bath with shower
Hello, Juneau! First settled in the gold rush days, Juneau welcomes with both small town charm and towering glaciers. Toast to the riches of Alaska as you sail west toward Icy Strait.
Kick start the morning with on-deck yoga stretches and a strong cup of coffee. Energized and snug in your kayak, glide around in remote bays off of Icy Strait through giant bullwhip kelp that can grow to over 100 feet long. Join the gang in a skiff to a rocky outcropping to watch sea lions play. Or, step into mud boots for a forest hike with your top-notch, naturalist guides who have plenty to share about everything Alaska—marine biology, plants, and even geology. On board, soak it all in as you soak in the hot tub.
You’re in for a real treat. A National Park ranger comes aboard to share expert insight. Have your binoculars handy—South Marble Island is a birder’s slice of heaven. Puffins scoot through the water. Guillemots and gulls chatter up the airwaves. The snoozing sea lions don’t seem to mind. More thrills and chills await as you cruise to the far end of John Hopkins Inlet or Tarr Inlet where glaciers calve into the water. Backed by knife-edged peaks, bears forage along the shoreline of Tidal Inlet. Mountain goats too. Back at Bartlett Cove, if time and daylight allow, take a forest hike around the park’s HQ, and say farewell to your ranger.
Stretching 150 miles into the Tongass National Forest, Chatham Strait offers adventure aplenty. Rest assured your captain navigates to the best. Anchor in a remote Chichagof Island inlet. Backpacks loaded and adventure toys lowered (skiffs, paddle boards, kayaks), it’s time to go play. Energy flows as you hike up through moss-covered trees and rain-fed waterfalls. Stick to the water in a kayak excursion, and don’t forget to look above and below the surface. A nosy seal could be watching your every stroke. Beachcomb rocky shores. Tiny creatures cling to rocks. Tonight, take a nightcap to the sun deck and watch the sky.
The jagged arms and fingers of Kuiu Island stretch from 25 to just six miles wide. Salmon streams dot the coastline—and where there’s salmon, there are bears. Despite its slim size, Kuiu Island is home to many black bears, who, like you, love the solitude and open skies in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. From kayak or skiff, scope the intertidal zones of Saginaw Bay for these guys. Eagles fish here too, their white noggins give away their perches. Kayak along the Keku Islands or take the pace down a notch with an easy stroll amidst the tide pools. It’s remote, and remarkable.
Humpbacks beeline it here each season to feed on krill, zooplankton, and herring. Watch for whales feasting in these abundant glacial waters. Hang out and enjoy the show. Based on wind and weather, your expedition team has the lineup of adventures all mapped out. Cruise past Five Fingers Lighthouse, Alaska’s oldest light station and The Brothers Islands, where sea lions nap on rocky nobs. Paddle into the deeps of Port Houghton or Windham Bay or head ashore for a hike. Somewhere nearby, carrot-billed black oystercatchers are saying hello. Tonight, toast another big day in Alaska.
Skiffing up Endicott Arm, harbor seals laze around on icebergs. If the tides are right, slip into Fords Terror, the steep walls of this narrow opening streaked with waterfalls. Back in the Arm, gasp at the deep glacier-carved valleys. It’s at the end where you meet the piece de resistance: Dawes Glacier. Blue ice marches down from the Coast Mountains. With a sharp crack, the white thunder of a calving slice makes a mega-splash. Tonight, celebrate with a festive Farewell Dinner and “photo journal” from your expedition team.
Mmmm, fresh baked pastries over one last breakfast. Your crew and new friends wish heartfelt goodbyes. This morning, transfer to the Juneau airport or begin your UnCruise hotel stay or land tour.
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur to maximize your experience.
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 186 feet Passenger Capacity: 76 guests Built: 1976, renovated in 2012 To complement the wild, natural surroundings, the interior of the 74-guest Wilderness Explorer has intentionally been designed with a Pacific Northwest feel including the nautical-themed main lounge. The open-seating format of the dining room and ample space on deck encourage guest-to-guest interaction on this small ship. This expedition vessel has three accessible decks; enjoy over-the-top views from the bow, watch sparkling stars from the upper deck hot tub, and relax in the sun lounge. The Wilderness Explorer is equipped for active adventure and is outfitted with kayaks, paddle boards, inflatable skiffs, hiking poles, and yoga mats, a hydrophone for listening below the water, and a bow-mounted underwater camera for viewing in-water action. An EZ Dock launch platform allows for easy access into the water. Onboard wellness amenities include fitness equipment and hot tub. There are three cabin categories aboard the Wilderness Explorer: Trailblazer; Pathfinder; and Explorer. Explorer accommodates single and double accommodations. Common to all cabins are: Flat-screen TV/DVD; iPod docking station; air conditioning; private bath with shower; view windows.
• One day in Glacier Bay National Park, joined by park ranger • Wilderness exploration in the Tongass National Forest, Ford’s Terror Wilderness Area, and Glacier Bay National Park • Get close up to Alaska’s most impressive glaciers • Fords Terror Wilderness Area by skiff • Humpback whales in Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait • Wildlife searches: black and brown bears, eagles, sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, sea birds • Kayak, paddle board and skiff remote inlets • Beachcombing, tide pool, and forest ecology discoveries