Enjoy a fabulous week cruising through Southeast Alaska, immersed in splendid scenery where wildlife abounds. We invite you to join guide Peg Abbott as we take in this stunning Alaska cruise.
Indulge on the Safari Endeavor, our comfortable and well-appointed ship. Designed for just 84 passengers, this ship offers an intimate experience exploring the wonders of Southeast Alaska. Unpack once, then enjoy ample time to explore, kayak, watch birds, and spot whales. This is a stunning cruise that can be as active (or not!) as you like.
- Feel pampered aboard the Safari Endeavor, comfortable with bar, hot tub, exercise equipment, and ample deck space for wildlife observation
- Experience Alaska’s rich feeling of nature in abundance on long summer days, perfect for exploring
- Embark on a tour of Glacier Bay National Park guided by a National Park ranger; search for both Marbled and Kittlitz Murrelets, other wildlife and watch ice calving into the water
- Visit lush forests of Tongass National Forest as we cruise narrow passages through towering Hemlock and Spruce
- Spot Alaskan Brown Bears (a huge form of Grizzly Bear) as they feed on salmon streams or dig mussels along the beaches
- Spot Humpback, Orca, and Minke Whales on a whale watching cruise on Icy Strait … marine mammals abound
- Dine on fresh seafood, make new friends on this memorable cruise
Sat., June 12 : Arrivals in Sitka | Embarkation from Baranof Island
Hello, historic Sitka! First settled by Tlingit Indians, then a Russian fur trading post, Sitka is not only picturesque, but has a rich cultural heritage. We suggest you arrive early to explore ahead of the start of our voyage. Today, it’s all aboard! There is nothing like a hearty greeting from Peg and your crew, and some Bon Voyage bubbly as we start our adventures.
The Endeavors large sundeck, bar and bridge areas allow us commanding views of lush forest and endless shorelines in the maze of islands we navigate. Mainland Baranof is said to have a higher population of bears than humans, so we watch the shorelines for our first possible sightings. This is BIG country, the island almost as large as the state of Delaware.
Sun., June 13: Krestof & Nakwasina Sounds
Today brings a rich taste of Southeast Alaska’s iconic beauty of secluded coves and lush, tree-covered islets. We are in the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska’s long panhandle and you will find that there aren’t many straight lines along Baranof Island. Its western side is spattered with remote, uninhabited islands. In these quieter, protected from the wind waters, we explore via kayak, paddle board, or comfortable skiff. On the water we are on the level with curious sea lions and possibly whales. Ashore, rocky intertidal zones make good beach combing. Turn a stone or two to see what’s underneath as we listen to the “chirp” of Bald Eagles overhead. There are no groomed trails here, but we can explore with our ship naturalists on guided hike John Muir would approve of.
With luck today we may spot Harlequin Duck, three species of scoters (White-winged, Black and Surf), Common Merganser perhaps with chicks, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and while ashore, tiny and busy Golden-crowned Kinglets and with them, beautiful breeding plumage Townsend’s Warbler.
Back aboard ship there are always treats, you can watch our progress with charts from the bridge, spot wildlife, sip your favorite beverage and celebrate that you are here in the long days of sunlight.
Mon., June 14: Sergius Narrows | Neva Strait
Listen to calls of Swainson’s and Varied Thrushes as we cruise within the eerie, enigmatic feeling of these mature northwest woods. Morning fog catches like cotton balls on trees. The aptly named narrows we navigate today squeezes to only 300 feet wide in one spot and is a shallow 24 feet deep.
The shorelines are close and it’s good territory to go ashore—to walk, play or study the region’s intriguing natural history. The forest floor is an elfin realm of fascination with mosses, liverworts, lichen and wildflowers. As we skiff ashore, we pass Sea Otters, floating on their backs as they crack snacks they rest on their bellies. Marbled Murrelet feed close to shore, while Glaucous-winged Gulls swirl overhead.
Opening at Hoonah Sound, the squeeze is back on. We wind into Neva Strait, watching for Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Barrow’s Goldeneye and Red-necked Grebe. Watch the scenery change in the late fading light, perhaps from your perch in the hot tub!
Tues., June 15: Peril Strait | Chichagof Island
Kick off the morning if you like by joining your ship guides on-deck for some yoga stretches. Today we follow a twisting channel known for dramatic currents. Peril Strait runs 50 miles to Salisbury Sound. It holds sublime beauty and some tricky navigation. We should see working fisherman, and perhaps flocks of Brant Geese, Long-tailed Duck, Horned Grebe, and the ever-present Mew Gulls are joined by Black-legged Kittiwake and Bonaparte’s Gull.
Meander through glacier-carved fjords along the Chichagof coast. Then stop. It’s a prime time to lower the kayaks and skiffs. Along the beaches we may spy Black Turnstone, Rock Sandpiper or at a stream crossing, American Dipper. In the woods, listen for the call of tiny but vocal Pacific Wren. Offshore, watch for both Pacific and Common Loon.
Binoculars and cameras in hand, we set off on land and sea explorations, searching for giant trees and tidal pools. Closer inspection by skiff, moss-dripping trees run right down to the water. Any bears in there? Salmon streams dot the coastline—and where there are salmon, there are bears, both black and grizzly—which grow huge on this rich and abundant diet. With one of the world’s largest populations of these coastal grizzlies also known as brown bears, it’s quite possible to see them. Experienced guides give safety guidelines as they explore and observe with us.
Wed., June 16: Icy Strait
Nearly to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, Icy Strait is remote and wild. Welcome the morning with a hot cup of coffee as you take in the grand views from the deck.
The plan today? Whales, seabirds and marine mammals. Alaska is known for whale viewing, and Icy Strait is the best of the best! Enjoy magnificent scenery as we watch for pods of Humpbacks that have swum back from Hawaii (and farther!) to feed in these nutrient-rich waters.
Spouts and fin slaps are certain giveaways and where whales feed there are often dense feeding flocks of kittiwakes, gulls and alcids. We have excellent opportunity to view Horned and Tufted Puffins, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s auklets, Common Murre, Ancient Murrelet, and Red-necked Phalarope in good numbers.
We look for Orca, Minke Whale, and Dall and Harbor Porpoises, as well as Steller Sea Lion and Sea Otter. As we see the whales, we interpret their behaviors. We have great hopes of seeing them bubble-feed—grouping up under a school of fish, diving down, and rising to surround them while making a “net” of bubbles. Our ship’s naturalists are versed in everything Alaska—marine biology, plants, and even geology—a perfect topic today with such grand views.
Perched above around the bend, watch for mountain goats, and lower along shore, foraging bears. Up bay, glacial silt turns the water a milky white. Lounging harbor seals laze on bits of bergs. And if time allows, tuck up in Tidal Inlet. End this very full day with your feet up, taking in the enormity of it all.
Thurs., June 17: Glacier Bay National Park
Today we’re in for a real treat. What a privilege. At 3.3 million acres—this UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is massive. At Bartlett Cove, a National Park ranger comes aboard to share expert insight as we explore Glacier Bay National Park. The park service describes Glacier Bay National Park as a “land reborn, a living lesson in resilience.” And who wouldn’t be inspired by this stunning park? From ground-hugging plants that began on land scraped bare by glaciers, to roaring blocks of ice calving from tidewater glaciers and crashing into the sea, a day on the water in Glacier Bay is a thrill. For birders it’s also a great chance to see Kittlitz Murrelet, rare to see but much at home in this glacial realm where they breed high up on mountain hillsides. We often find them where glacial streams meet the fjord and we get fantastic views.
Have your binoculars handy: Bald Eagles patrol the skies, and smaller seabirds like Pigeon Guillemot are ever watchful. Throughout the day we may spy Orca, Minke, and even Humpback Whales. On land we look for Mountain Goats – one year we were incredibly lucky to spy a pack of wolves down on the distant beach stones! We cruise by South Marble Island, a birder’s slice of heaven. See Tufted and Horned Puffins, Common Murre, Pelagic Cormorant, and Black-legged Kittiwake. The sights and sounds (and smells) are amazing! Over 300 Steller Sea Lions also use the island to haul out and pup—you can hear and smell them before you see them!
We cruise to the far end of John Hopkins or Tarr Inlet where glaciers calve into the water. Compare Margerie to Grand Pacific Glacier—one holding steady, the other retreating. Back at Bartlett Cove, if time and daylight allow, we may opt to take a forest hike around the park’s headquarters; and take a peek at some of the new cultural demonstrations as we say farewell to our ranger.
Fri., June 18: Chatham Strait or Lynn Canal—Captain’s Choice
In this intricate part of the Inside Passage, long navigable passages stretch between island reaches of the Tongass National Forest. Chatham Strait and Lynn Canal both offer adventure aplenty and we go with our Captain’s choice today. Deep, rugged fjords, we anchor on remote beaches to hike through moss-covered trees and rain-fed waterfalls. Or, some may stick to the water on a kayak excursion—don’t forget to look above and below the surface. A nosy seal could be watching your every stroke. Some may simply choose to birdwatch or beachcomb along the rocky shores—a final day to savor the splendor of Southeast Alaska. Black Oystercatcher may put on a show along the shoreline, in forests we look for Red-breasted Sapsucker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Steller’s Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Fox Sparrow and possible White-winged Crossbill.
Tonight, we toast another grand day in Alaska. Then, we celebrate with a festive farewell dinner and “photo journal” from our expedition team. Peg helps tally up the final bird and wildlife list for our voyage.
Sat., June 19: Juneau | Disembarkation
We enjoy a final breakfast of fresh baked pastries before disembarking and saying a goodbye to the crew and friends, old and new. This morning, you transfer to the Juneau Airport, or alternately you may wish to stay on and explore a bit, take in local sites and Juneau’s excellent museum. Note that several flights back to “mainland” USA do not leave until midnight, giving you much of the day to explore.
Cost of the Journey
Costs are as follows: For this cruise, Naturalist Journeys has reserved Admiral ($8395 DBL / $14,695 SGL), Captain ($7395 DBL / $12,945 SGL), Commander ($6895 DBL / $12,070 SGL), and Master ($6295 DBL / $8185 SGL) cabins based on double occupancy, plus a $375 port tax/fee per person. The tour cost includes 7 nights aboard the Safari Endeavor, all meals onboard the voyage including alcoholic beverages, all excursions with professional guides, and miscellaneous program expenses, transfers and baggage handling between airport/vessel on embark/disembark days; entry fees to national parks/preserves; all from-the-ship adventure activities and equipment; wellness amenities: fitness equipment, and yoga mats.
Not included is the flight into Sitka and out of Juneau. The tour cost does not include items of a personal nature such as telephone charges or optional activities.
We highly recommend a gratuity for local guides and the ship crew, which is left to the discretion of each participant; guidelines will be provided.
For the cruise, plan to arrive Saturday, June 12 no later than 2:30 PM. Please plan flights out after 11:30 AM on Saturday, June 19. We STRONGLY recommend you arrive the night before—you don’t want to miss the boat!
Photo credits: Banners: Breeching Orca by Peg Abbott; Glacier Bay by Peg Abbott; Humpback Flukes by Peg Abbott; Common Murres by Peg Abbott; Harbor Seal by Greg Smith; Kayaking Endicott Arm, courtesy UnCruise Adventures; Whale Watching by Skiff, courtesy UnCruise Adventures; Elfin Cove by Peg Abbott; Grizzly Bear by Peg Abbott; Steller Sea Lion by Peg Abbott; Red Fox by Greg Smith; Humpback Whale, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Gustavus Inn by Peg Abbott; Horned Puffins by Greg Smith; Sea Otter by Peg Abbott; Horned Puffins, Greg Smith; Sea Otter, Peg Abbott; Harbor Seal, Peg Abbott; Alaska Scenic, Peg Abbott; Grizzly Bear, Greg Smith; Alaska Scenic, Peg Abbott; Seal on Glacier Ice, Courtesy of Uncruise Adventures; Southeast Alaska Hiking Trail, Peg Abbott; Bunchberries, Peg Abbott; Shells, Peg Abbott; Elfin Cove, Peg Abbott; Swimming Bear, Courtesy Uncruise Adventures; Glacier Bay NP, courtesy of Matt Howard on Unsplash; Glacier Bay, courtesy of Victoria Crocker on Unsplash; Humpback Whale by Steve Halama on Unsplash; Humpback Whale, Peg Abbott; Red-throated Loon, Greg Smith; Safari_Endeavour in Scenic Cove by Jordan Herschel; Great Blue Heron, by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash; Red-necked Phalarope by Greg Smith