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Join a fabulous sea journey between Russia and Alaska, along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Board Le Soléal for a unique 13-day expedition cruise and prepare to be captivated by the beauty of the Aleutian Islands. This elongated archipelago that marks the boundary between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea forms a natural bridge between Kamchatka and Alaska, extending in an arc over nearly 2,000 km. You will board your ship in Petropavlovsk, the oldest city in the Russian Far East, before heading eastward. Over the course of your cruise, you will get up close to the most active volcanoes in the world and you’ll be able to see for yourself the exceptional diversity of wildlife that reigns in these parts. Surrounded by waters that are particularly rich in nutrients, the string of Aleutian Islands is home to an incredibly rich fauna. It is common to see whales, orcas and seabirds here. Le Soléal will then continue to sail eastward to reach the sublime landscapes of Alaska, including glaciers, old-growth forest, luxuriant vegetation and superb bays where grizzlies roam. Please note: your voyage prices include Flight Seoul / Petropavlosvk + transfers + flight Juneau / Seattle. 10 July 2020 departure is in partnership with National Geographic Expeditions.
Petropavlovsk, the oldest town in the Russian Far East, was established in October 1740, when the ships Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul, captained by Vitus Jonassen Bering, the Danish explorer working for the Russian Navy, first entered the bay. The Military Glory Museum, found in the town centre, is the most important in all of northern Russia. Keep your camera at the ready, though, as nearby is the picturesque Petrovskaya Hill, which also has some surprises in store for you - don’t forget to admire the sumptuous views across the Bay of Avacha from its summit. The bay’s circular shape creates a natural protection against the impetuous wind, all the while providing ships with easy access into port.
During your cruise, discover an exceptional site: 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.
After a short Zodiac® journey between the rocks in the company of your naturalist-guides, you will land in this former village of which many vestiges remain. Originally called Ougnagok by the Aleuts, this small hamlet, which was home to some 100 inhabitants in the 19th century, was renamed Delarof, after Evstratii Ivanovich Delarov. While working for the Shelikhov-Golikov Company, he was the first Greek mariner to discover the Aleutian Islands. These days, this small ghost-village now overrun by willowherb is called Unga. When your cruise calls here, you will have the opportunity to visit the Aleutian Islands’ forest and perhaps explore the former gold mine.
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. Board your Zodiac® and, a little further south, explore every part of Geographic Harbor and its tall cliffs covered in vegetation and plunging into the sea. Along the sandy beach, grizzly bears improvise hunting sessions, in search of fish and clams. In the thickets, these omnivores eat berries, roots and grasses. Brown bears are at home here and the presence of humans doesn’t seem to disturb them. This makes for a fascinating and unforgettable show. In the heart of the stunning Katmai nature reserve, renowned for its bewitching landscapes of rivers and lakes, discover Kinak Bay. This bay is more sheltered than Geographic Harbor. At the end of a narrow passage where strong currents flow, it leads to a few small beaches that are each more charming than the next. You have arrived at Hidden Harbor. Stay alert: a large colony of brown bears reigns here. They love to wander along the coast and dip their paws in the clear currents in the hope of catching a salmon. As for the bear cubs, they prefer to catch seabirds on the beach. Look up and you might spot two or three bald eagles, proudly perched on the cliffs.
Exceptional scenery surrounds you. You are in Aialik Bay, in the heart of a gigantic fjord located in Kenai Fjords National Park. Your ship is heading towards the vertiginous slopes of Holgate Glacier, which is still very active. Regularly, blocks of ice break free from its snout and crash into the water. This phenomenon, called calving, is magnificent to witness. During your Zodiac® outing, you will get closer to this ever-fascinating world of ice. In this mineral setting, sea otters and spotted seals will observe you as they bask in the golden rays of sunshine, while gulls and seagulls feast on fish trapped by the ebbing tide.
At the tip of an island in the Alexander Archipelago, not far from the Canadian border, peaceful Elfin Cove shelters a fishing community that’s only linked to the rest of the world by the sea. There is just a dozen wooden houses, a long wooden pontoon and a tiny port surrounded by crystalline waters… It doesn’t get any quainter than this. Choose from a network of hiking paths that weave through a pristine forest, to lead you to secret beaches where silence reigns. The wonders of the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, accessible by a short boat trip, are many.
In 1880, gold diggers flocked here, and it didn't take long before Juneau was singled out, getting itself a solid reputation and henceforth becoming the capital of Alaska. Along the Gastineau Strait, in the heart of the spectacular Inside Passage, the 31,000 or so inhabitants of Juneau enjoy some of the world’s most incredible fauna and scenery every day of their lives. Perhaps you’ll even be able to watch the antics of humpback whales against a backdrop of majestic glaciers. Culture and shopping are certainly not lacking; the city is full of places to experience, enjoy and relax in.
Subject to ice and weather conditions. The expedition highlights and itineraries described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.
Vessel Type: Luxury Small Ship Length: 142 metres Passenger Capacity: 264 Built: 2013 Sailing under the French flag, this magnificent yacht of only 132 staterooms and suites, with balconies, joined in 2013. You will be enchanted by the contemporary decor inspired by the luxury yachting world, with fluid lines and a modern colour scheme combining natural wood with shades of grey and white. A refined ambience is enhanced by the quality of the workmanship and materials: white Corian counters in the lobby contrast with the warmth of leather to recall a boat's hull, while the central scuplture of enamelled pieces takes its inspiration from the sea. In the loungebar, the carpet picks up a tennis stripe theme symbolising a certain idea of cruising, one synonomous with French elegance and a chic seaside spirit.
• Outings and shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with your naturalist guides. • An exceptional cruise to discover the northern part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. • Landscapes: volcanic islands, glaciers, old-growth forest. • Wildlife: whales, orcas, seabirds, grizzlies. • Kiska Island, dominated by a 1,000-metre-tall volcano. • Unga Island, home to the vestiges of a village and a great variety of seabirds. • Elfin Cove, a charming little fishing port that can only be reached by boat or hydroplane.