There is no place in the world like Alaska, a wilderness so special that many of our guests return here again and again. Enjoy a fabulous week cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage and visiting Glacier Bay National Park, a bucket list trip featuring whales, puffins, glaciers, icebergs, and possible Grizzly and Black Bear, all under a midnight sun.

We spend a full day in glorious Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and another amid the towering Hemlocks and Spruce in Tongass National Forest, with optional bushwhacking hikes that yielded sweet wild blueberries and bear tracks for our 2022 group!

Large pods of Orca and bubble-feeding Humpback Whales can be spied from the ship, as well as Brown and Black Bear moving onshore. Our time passing among the fjords in glacial waters is unforgettable and beachcombing shore excursion opportunities are plentiful. Our premier small ship, Safari Endeavor, serves lovely chef-prepared meals with local seafood options and features a hot tub and gym, depending on your relaxation style! Kayak, skiff, or even take a polar plunge if you dare.

You will not soon forget your time among the fjords and glaciers. Our adventure starts in historic and culturally rich Sitka, first settled by the Tlingit people and later a Russian fur-trading post — picturesque and fascinating and worth an extra day if you choose to come early.

Why travel with Naturalist Journeys and not just book your own cruise? Because you won’t pay any more than you would to the operator, and you will get a much more personal experience. You will be part of a smaller, like-minded group, led by our personable host and experienced naturalist, in 2024 the charming Ann Bugeda. We will also send you a species list at the end of the tour, a final memento of our time kayaking, watching birds, and spotting whales aboard ship!

“The trip was amazing! I've never been on a cruise before, but I think I'm now totally spoiled for any other cruise. The ship was perfect for the small number of passengers--never felt crowded or herded; everything was in great condition; the food was consistently great with a variety of choices for each meal; the crew was amazing! The expedition leaders were extremely knowledgeable about all the plants, animals, geology, etc. Of course, it's Alaska, so the scenery was incredible. While we saw lots of interesting birds, this was not a high-species-count birding trip. So I would highly recommend it to birders and non-birders alike.” — Ken Copenhaver, 2022 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Experience Alaska’s rich 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 Humpback, Orca, and Minke Whales on a whale-watching cruise on Icy Strait … marine mammals galore!
  • Be part of a smaller, like-minded group, and enjoy the benefit of a Naturalist Journeys leader who serves as a host and additional naturalist, facilitating interactions and acting as an additional attentive guide.
  • Enjoy a peaceful and relaxing stay aboard the Safari Endeavor, our premier small ship with terrific chef-prepared meals, a bar, hot tub, exercise equipment, and more

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sat., June 29 : 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 also has a rich cultural heritage. We suggest you arrive early to explore ahead of the start of our voyage. Sitka has scenery, history, a raptor center, a National Historic Park, and a fine local museum. It is a small city and one that is easy to get around.

Today, it’s all aboard! There is nothing like a hearty greeting from your guide and the crew, and some bon voyage bubbly as we start our adventures.

The Safari Endeavor’s sundeck, bar, and bridge areas allow us commanding views of lush forest and endless shorelines in the maze of islands we navigate. Whales may appear at anytime, often close enough to the ship that we can hear them breathe. Mainland Baranof is said to have a higher population of bears than humans, so we watch the shorelines for our first possible sightings. Birding is varied and fun, including regular sightings of several species of loons, Tufted Puffin and other seabirds, and ever present Bald Eagle. The scale of scenery in Alaska is profound, starting with Baranof’s big and wild country; this island is almost as large as the state of Delaware.

Sun., June 30 : Krestof & Nakwasina Sounds

Today brings a rich taste of Southeast Alaska’s iconic beauty with secluded coves and lush, tree-covered islets. We are in the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska’s long panhandle and you 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 hikes that John Muir would approve of. Skiffs are always at the ready to take us out to explore.

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 Kinglet 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. In the evenings naturalist guides offer presentations.

Mon., July 1 : 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 squeeze to only 300 feet wide in one spot and are 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 rested on their bellies. Marbled Murrelet feed close to shore, while Glaucous-winged Gull 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!

And meal time each day is a special treat, with big windows so we can watch wildlife and scenery while sampling fresh local seafood, a variety of international dishes, homemade pastries, and other treats. Celebrate Independence Day in a far-flung fjord of the 49th state. This is an all-inclusive voyage so drinks are on us— enjoy!

Tues., July 2 : Peril Strait | Chichagof Island

If you like, kick off the morning 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 Gull 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 and we scan the shorelines for birds. 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., July 3 : 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—Icy Strait, with its rich ocean upwelling, is a wildlife admirer’s dream. Alaska is known for whale viewing, and Icy Strait is the best of the best! Enjoy magnificent scenery as we watch for pods of Humpback 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 here, and in Glacier Bay tomorrow, 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 Seal laze on bits of bergs. And if time allows, we tuck up in Tidal Inlet. End this very full day with your feet up, taking in the enormity of it all.

Thurs., July 4 : 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 Eagle 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 Goat—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 Lion 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., July 5 : 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. In 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. You Naturalist Journeys guide helps tally up the final bird and wildlife list for our voyage.

Sat., July 6 : 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. There is a nice waterfront area to stroll, and a tram that takes you up to tree line.

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Cost of the Journey

Costs are as follows: 

2 Navigator Cabins ($7000 DBL / $12,300 SGL) located on the main deck with an inside entrance, which features a queen bed, two porthole windows and a private bath.

2 Navigator Cabins ($7000 DBL / $12,300 SGL) located on the upper deck with an outside entrance, two fixed twin beds, a view window and a private bath.

5 Trailblazer Cabins ($7700 DBL / $13,500 SGL) located on the upper deck with an outside entrance, two fixed twin beds, a view window and a private bath.

There is an additional $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. A photo slide show will be provided with images from your trip as a voyage keepsake. Not included is the flight into Sitka and out of Juneau. The tour cost also 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 recommended at $250 per participant.

Please note: Cruise payments are subject to the terms and conditions of the cruise company, UnCruise Adventures, we contract with and may be fully non-refundable. These terms and conditions are primary over those of Naturalist Journeys.

Naturalist Journeys’ Added Value: Why cruise with Naturalist Journeys? First and foremost, it doesn’t cost you more to cruise with us. You pay the same rate you would if you booked directly through the operator. That’s where the perks come in! When you book with Naturalist Journeys, you’re part of a group. We send a leader with you who adds excellent hosting and interpretation skills, and facilitates group interaction. We also send you a species list and trip report once the trip is over. So really, you get the benefit of a small-group guide without the added cost!

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival Airport: Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT)

Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive June 29, 2024 no later than 2:30 PM.

Departure Airport: Juneau International Airport (JNU)

Departure Details: Plan flights to depart July 6, 2024 after 11:30 AM.

Travel Tips: We strongly encourage you to arrive a day early, on June 28, to ensure you do not miss the ship due to flight delays or cancellations. If you dxo arrive early, we recommend booking a room at the Westmark Sitka Hotel. If you want to explore Sitka, there is picturesque scenery, culture and history, a fine local museum, and the Sitka National Historic Park. It’s a small town that is very easy to get around.

If you want to stay in Juneau a little longer to explore or rest up before flying home, we recommend the Four Points by Sheraton Juneau. There are lots of things to do in Juneau including the Mendenhall Glacier, many hiking trails, and the Alaska State Museum. The waterfront area has many shops and restaurants and is nice to walk around. There is also a tram that takes you up to Mt. Roberts for scenic views of Juneau and the Gastineau Channel. Juneau is easy to get around with taxis or Uber.


Items of Note

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur to maximize your experience.

The Safari Endeavor
Polished, unwavering, and upscale, the Safari Endeavor may be the workhorse of the fleet but it’s her zest-for-life persona that’s remembered most. She looks sharp—a nod to the crew who work hard to keep her that way. Wood fixtures and accents shine and artwork highlights the warm and cool waters where she sails. No other UnCruise vessel covers more territory, and like her namesake, Captain Cook’s Endeavour, both the ship and crew are true explorers. Her roomy lounge, dining room, and sun deck are undisputed, but the Safari Endeavor claims to have the biggest heart, too.

Four decks are fully equipped for comfort and action. From the exercise equipment and lounge chairs in the Bridge deck, to the twin hot tubs on the Upper deck, to the Bow viewing area on the Cabin deck, to the library and dining room on the Main deck, everything you need is easy to reach.
The Lounge has a large flat-screen TV featuring closed-circuit channels which include a GPS map of the location of the ship and an under-bow camera. The lounge also has a limited library, filled with wildlife encyclopedias and binoculars are available for wildlife-spotting.

The Dining Room features open seating. Meals are served at table at set times, unless the activities have taken you far afield - in which case you will take a boxed lunch with you. Unlimited beverages, alcoholic and non, are included in the price of the cruise. Vegetarian options are always available. Dietary restrictions are happily accommodated with advance notice.

Onboard Features: EZ Dock launch platform; kayaks, paddleboards, inflatable skiffs, hiking poles; underwater bow-mounted camera; two on-deck hot tubs; fitness equipment and yoga mats; DVD and book library; wine bar.

Cabin Features: TV/DVD player; Tempur-Pedic mattresses; heated tile floor in all bathrooms; hair dryer, bathrobes, conditioning shampoo, body wash; binoculars; reusable water bottles

— 84 guests
— 42 cabins
— 230 feet in length
— 40 foot beam
— Cruising speed of 12 knots
— Built in 1983
— Registered in United States
— 2.5:1 Guest-to-crew ratio

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.


Southeast Alaska Cruise

  • Stephen Grace

    Stephen is an award-winning author, natural history educator and conservationist. He has also contributed to documentary films, and his nature photography has been widely published. Over the past two decades, he has introduced groups of travelers to nature and culture in destinations as varied as Uganda, New Zealand and Alaska.

    After moving from Colorado to the Oregon coast, Stephen was captivated by the sight of a Tufted Puffin carrying fish back to its burrow, and the first time he heard a Swainson’s Thrush sing, he knew his life would never be the same. He has been studying birds and sharing their beauty with people ever since.

    Formative experiences during Stephen’s journey as a naturalist have included tagging along as a teenager with his grandparents in Madera Canyon, where he absorbed their love of Arizona’s sky islands; helping people with different ability levels experience the Yellowstone ecosystem when he lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and sailing aboard a historic schooner to share the wonders of the Salish Sea with students.

    Now based in Port Townsend, Washington, Stephen explores the Pacific Northwest by backpacking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, biking, trail running, and skiing. His wide-ranging natural history pursuits include coring trees to count their growth rings, identifying bats by analyzing their biosonar signals, hunting mammoth tusks in Pleistocene bluffs, searching for the elusive Rubber Boa, preserving native prairie, raising awareness about plankton, and leading sea slug safaris.

    Other trips with Stephen Grace

Map for Alaska’s Northern Passages & Glacier Bay

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. We trust that you have talked with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health Information” section.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.

  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT) and departing from Juneau International Airport (JNU). Send a copy to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags is easiest for packing. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport

Please note. If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of your Guide. As a backup, contact our office (both numbers are on your emergency contact list).

The arrival airport for this tour is the Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT). Please plan to arrive no later than 2:30 PM on the first day of the tour. We STRONGLY recommend that you arrive the day prior to minimize any risk of missing the boat. If you do, Sitka is a wonderful town to explore ahead of time!

Departures from Juneau International Airport

The departure airport for this tour is the Juneau International Airport (JNU). Please plan your departures for after 11:30 AM.

Passports and Identification

The U.S. Coast Guard requires each passenger to provide identification & emergency contact information.

U.S. citizens or permanent residents may use a driver's license or other accepted government-issued ID. Passengers from outside the U.S. will need a valid passport to board the vessel. Passport and visa requirements are dependent on your nationality.

General Health Information

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. Do bring any prescription medications with you and its best if you have a copy of the prescription in case of loss. The crew is trained in both first aid and CPR and there are first aid supplies on board. There is not a physician on board.

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and our eContact list a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as a framework for each day and alert you to any changes in the schedule or accommodations if these were needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting how best to be prepared. Questions and/or concerns are welcome. 

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is mostly perched; however, to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of the ship and be able to walk over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude to adjustments that may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a listing bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do want to wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time for photo stops as well as educational stops to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as the birds, mammals being perhaps the biggest draw but plants and butterflies being close seconds in popularity. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix. 

Our premier small ship, Safari Endeavor, serves lovely chef-prepared meals. We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, and meal time each day on board is a special treat, with big windows so we can watch wildlife and scenery while sampling fresh local seafood, a variety of international dishes and homemade pastries.  While watching our progress with charts from the bridge and spotting wildlife, sip your favorite beverage and celebrate that you are here in the long days of sunlight. In the evenings naturalist guides offer presentations. We carry snacks, fruit, and water while on land as well. 

Weather & Climate

The summertime climate in Southeast Alaska is usually quite mild, and there is a high chance of a high cloud cover during the day that keeps the heat at bay. Daytime temperatures range from the low 50s to high 60s, and at night and early mornings it will dip into the 40s. Since the journey takes place primarily on protected waters, windy conditions are not usually an issue. Additionally, rain is infrequent this time of year. However, it is always good to come prepared with rain gear that can double as a wind breaker layer.

Annoyances & Hazards

While the areas and waters we travel are mostly protected, in the event of high winds or open passageway crossings you may encounter rough water. Seasickness medication is kept on board all of our vessels. If you are prone to seasickness, you should consult your physician prior to your departure. The captain will update you when there might be extra motion so you can take the medication in enough time to be effective.

Good news! There aren’t mosquitoes in most of the areas we cruise in Southeast Alaska. If we do encounter them, your vessel crew can provide you with insect repellent. Mosquitoes are present in the Interior of Alaska and are most numerous in June and July. If you are concerned about mosquitoes while on a pre- or post-cruise land package, you should pack insect repellent.

For the protection of all guests, your onboard guides are equipped with bear spray during outings. Guests are not allowed to store bear spray in their cabin or carry it with them. If you are extending your Alaska travels pre- or post-cruise and bear spray is necessary, you may bring it onboard, but you MUST surrender it for safekeeping to the captain for the duration of your cruise.

Food & Drinks

The food on board has been described as pretty incredible. Expect handcrafted meals made from fresh ingredients showcasing the flavors of the region. Wherever possible, ingredients are sourced locally. Our operator is committed to sustainability and is proud to be the first cruise partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program.

Most special dietary needs can be accommodated. To help us out, please alert us of any food allergies or other dietary requirements you may have and to ensure the chef has enough notice. We recommend that you check in with the chef or hotel manager after boarding the ship to confirm your request.

Onboard water is treated and filtered. Re-usable water bottles are available on board if you didn't bring one along.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Dress is informal and is casual even at meals. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable during this trip. We suggest packing a medium/heavy jacket and layers. In Southeast Alaska, the wilderness areas we explore on foot can get pretty muddy, plus skiff landings may be wet landings where there's no dock at all. Having proper footwear and ankle support is absolutely essential. Both hiking and rubber boots are good, but if we had to choose, we'd lean towards the rubber boots (aka the "Alaska tennis shoe," also known as Xtratufs, Wellingtons, gum boots). Many guests add insoles for support and hike in their rubber "mud" boots!

Laundry service will not be offered on the ship. You may want to pack clothes that are easy to hand wash.

Spending Money

Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money. While most all is inclusive on the ship, charges for personal items, gear shop purchases, and crew gratuities can be easily charged to your personal shipboard account and settled with one payment at the end of your cruise. Payment can be made by credit card or cash (USD) in all of our destinations. U.S. travelers' checks and personal checks are also accepted on cruises in our U.S. destinations.

If you plan on spending extra time either at the beginning or the end of the trip, the amount of spending money you bring depends on how much you want to shop. Where you do encounter them, shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books.


Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, the ship crew or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.

Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:

  • Gratuities for group meals are included
  • Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest
  • Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
  • Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person

Gratuities will be shared among your onboard crew and are paid at the end of your cruise. Our operator recommends $250 per week per guest ($35/day per guest). Gratuities can be added to your tab along with any onboard purchases. For travel in the U.S., gratuities may be paid by cash (USD), check, travelers’ check, or credit card.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

The ship is equipped with communication devices designed to conduct the ship's business and for emergency purposes but wifi is not available for passenger use. Cell phones sometimes work near more populated areas. A satellite phone is available on the bridge of each ship for emergency use at additional cost.

In an emergency, family and friends can call 888-862-8881 Monday-Friday 6:00 am-6:00 pm or Saturday 7:00 am-4:00 pm.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Vaping or smoking tobacco products is prohibited anywhere inside the ship. Vaping or smoking is only allowed on the outer aft deck in a designated smoking area. To protect the environment, guests should use the ashtrays provided and never toss cigarettes/cigars overboard.


For this tour, the crew will offer trips ashore in either a skiff, or you can opt to take a sea kayak or paddle board. Please listen to the crew to advise on conditions and safety.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and share photos with the group. Please note that this is our policy, if you have an exception to it, we need to know ahead of your tour. And at the end of your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representative’s permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!


Packing List +

Please Pack Light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Southeast Alaska's weather will be a big influence on your packing plan. Summers are mild. Long days extend to 15-18 hours of daylight. Here in the heart of Earth's biggest temperate rainforest, precipitation is common. May-September, temps range from 55-65 but can soar to 70. Evenings dip to 40-50. If you're tempted to take the "polar plunge", the water will be mid-40s to low-50s. Conditions change week-to-week and historic averages are changing. Check the weather forecast via your preferred weather source for your cruise dates before packing.

Whatever the weather, each day brings adventures kayaking, hiking, and skiffing about. Bring clothing that layers easily so that you can add or remove layers as conditions change throughout the day. It can be chilly near glaciers and on deck when the ship is underway, then much warmer when you go ashore. While you want to be sure you bring your "Alaskan Tennis Shoes," storage space in your cabin is limited, so pack efficiently. Watch this helpful video from our operator about Alaskan Sneakers.

Dress, Layering & Fabrics

Dress is casual. While on board, that means t-shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, jeans, khakis, even shorts. For outdoor activities, pack clothes that layer: convertible hiking pants, moisture-wicking base layers, and thermal underwear (top to bottom). Multiple thin layers are better than one or two thick ones.

A note on fabrics: moisture-wicking/quick-drying (wool, polyester, etc.) fabrics are most effective in keeping you warm and dry, especially when participating in off-vessel activities. Cotton absorbs moisture and is slow to dry in Alaska's damp environment, so keep cotton to a minimum.


Chances are it will rain and be windy. A heavy-duty, waterproof rain jacket and rain pants with waterproof, taped seams (made of Gore-Tex, Pertex, or a similar waterproof fabric) are highly recommended. Fleece jackets/pullovers and zip-up vests will be good for layering and warmth. Bring a scarf, gloves, and warm, water-resistant hat that covers your ears.


Whether it's heavy rain, ankle-deep water, or mud ... the "Alaskan tennis shoe" (aka a pair of calf-high rubber boots, Wellingtons, or gummies) is a must. Consider replacing the insoles with a padded set for more comfort. Hiking in Alaska is best in rubber boots, but you may also want to bring a pair of waterproof hiking boots. Water socks or multi-sport shoes are handy for paddle boarding. On board, a skidproof deck shoe is a good idea. Bring lots of moisture-wicking, quick-dry (synthetic or wool) socks.

It is best to bring your own rubber boots for best fit and availability. The ship will have a very limited supply aboard their vessels and youth sizes are not available.

Provided on Board

  • Adventure gear & yoga mats
  • Hairdryer, towels, toiletries (eco-friendly shampoo/conditioner/body wash)
  • Refillable water bottles*
  • Sunscreen & insect repellant*
  • Fun and adventure!

*Please note: if you are going on a pre- or post-cruise land tour, be sure to bring your own refillable water bottle, sunscreen, and insect repellant.

Clothing and Gear

  • Full-length or convertible hiking pants
  • Moisture-wicking long & short sleeved shirts (polypropylene, merino wool, etc.)
  • Thermal top & bottom base layers
  • Sweaters, sweatshirts, long-sleeve fleece
  • Casual t-shirts, blouses, jeans/khakis, shorts for on board
  • Socks (synthetic or wool) for all activities
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas (consider what dries quickly if you plan to do laundry)
  • Bathing suit (optional)
  • Heavy-duty, waterproof rain jacket and pants with waterproof, taped seams (made of Gore-Tex, Pertex, or a similar waterproof fabric)
  • Fleece or hooded jacket/pullover
  • Scarf, gloves, and warm hat
  • Water-resistant hat that covers your ears
  • Calf-to knee-high rubber boots for wet landings & walking in mud
  • Waterproof hiking boots with tread or rubber boots with good insoles
  • Comfortable deck style walking shoes for on board
  • Hat with broad brim that covers ears/neck

Equipment and Miscellaneous

  • Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
  • Photo identification
  • Passport (needed if your Alaska cruise route sails through Canadian waters)
  • Money pouch, or someplace to carry your money and identification
  • Binoculars with safety strap (a shower cap is great to cover these when raining)
  • Camera, extra batteries/chargers, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies, instruction manual, safety lanyard
  • Daypack for hiking and skiff rides
  • Dry bag for camera, binoculars, snacks, etc. (optional, but strongly recommended)
  • Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Walking stick – collapsible (optional)
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF (ideally waterproof)
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletry articles
  • Paddling gloves (optional – for kayaking)
  • Water bottle (can easily be bought in the airport and refilled daily)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Heavy-gauge gallon-size ziplock bags for keeping things dry during transfers if raining
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)


WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical and First Aid Items

  • Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on boat, bus, van, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit including medications for general and stomach ailments (Band-Aids or Elastoplasts, Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
  • Insurance information
  • Vaccination records
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts


Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Alaska; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Alaska; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Alaska

Kayaking the Inside Passage: A Paddling Guide from Olympia, Washington to Muir Glacier, Alaska

Coming into the Country John McPhee

Travels in Alaska by John Muir

Guide to the Birds of Alaska

A Guide to Alaskan Seabirds

General Reading

The Alaska Cruise Explorer

The Alaska Almanac: Facts About Alaska

Interior and Northern Alaska: A Natural History

Alaska (Traveller’s Wildlife Guides)

The Great Alaska Nature Factbook: A Guide to the State's Remarkable Animals, Plants, and Natural Features. Susan Ewing

Alaska Wildlife: Through the Seasons

The Nature of Alaska: An Introduction to Familiar Plants and Animals and Natural Attractions

Field Guides

The Sibley Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America

Field Guide to the Birds of North America

A Birder’s Guide to Alaska

Wildlife & Nature

Alaska Park Science: Scientific Studies on Climate Change in Alaska’s National Parks

Nature of Southeast Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals, and Habitats

The Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, & Alaska

Natural History

Alaska: Travelers Wildlife Guide

Alaska Trees and Wildflowers: An Introduction to Familiar Plants (a Pocket Naturalist Guide)

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers: Commonly Seen Along Highways and Byways

Guide to Marine Mammals of Alaska

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Arctic

Roadside Geology of Alaska

History & Culture

Looking for Alaska

Alaska’s History: The People, Land and Events of the North Country

Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush The Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of AlaskaThe Blue Bear

Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings

Where the Sea Breaks Its Back: The Epic Story of Early Naturalist Georg Steller and the Russian Exploration of Alaska

Guardians of the Whales: The Quest to Study Whales

Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska's Tongass Rain Forest

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more


Juneau, Alaska


Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Audubon Alaska – Birding Juneau

Alaska Birds Checklists

Common Birds of Southeast Alaska

Alaska Birding Maps

Bears of Alaska

Sitka Spruce

Endemic Animals of Alaska

Species of Southeast Alaska – iNaturalist

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Sitka National Historic Park

Tongass National Forest

Alaska Conservation Foundation

The Nature Conservancy in Alaska

Alaska Wildlife Alliance

Geology & Geography

Geology of Alaska

“Geologist digs into the rocky history of Southeast Alaska” – Interesting Article,

Geography of Alaska

Baranof Island

Chichagof Island

Alexander Archipelago

Southeast Alaska (Panhandle)

History & Culture

Juneau Museums

Juneau History

Adolf Murie

History of Sitka, Alaska

Alaska Native Peoples

Cuisine in Alaska

Helpful Travel Websites

Arrival:  Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT)

Departure:  Juneau International Airport (JNU)

National Passport Information Center

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

ATM Locator

Electricity and Plugs

Date, Time & Holidays

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; Bald Eagle, Peg Abbott; Group in Kayaks, Peg Abbott; Glacier Bay, courtesy of Victoria Crocker on Unsplash; Humpback Whale by Steve Halama on Unsplash; Humpback Whale, Peg Abbott; Red-throated Loon, Greg Smith; Red-necked Phalarope by Greg Smith; Kayaks, Peg Abbott; Bear Watching, Peg Abbott; Moose, Dan Donaldson;


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