TravelKatz Alaska Adventure Cruise – An Expedition Experience
A Personal Accounting of this Special Cruise
By Sandra Holder
We booked a group of 12 went on this cruise and Sandra was fortunate to be able to accompany them this past summer. We flew into Seattle; it was an easy flight to Juneau from there.
When we arrived, we had time to take a walking tour of Juneau and to see the State Museum where they have a great collection of natural history and cultural artifacts. It gave us a real feel for Alaska and what we were going to learn over the next few days. We boarded the ship, had a great dinner and unpacked.
The ship headed out during the night to Tracy Arms-Fiords. In the morning, we saw gorgeous waterfalls spilling from the glacier cut mountains; and mother harbor seals guarding their new born pups on the various ice flows. A great time to get photos.
The next stop was Petersburg which is an Alaskan fishing town. There is a fishing vessel there which is a memorial to the fishermen lost at sea.
On to Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait. We saw our first Humpback whales up close – amazing. We explored the rainforest after taking zodiacs ashore. The trees and vegetation were fascinating. We saw several brown bears looking for food on the shore. We were told by the naturalist that the bears were hunting small animal life under the rocks.
At Icy Strait and other nearby islands, we got to watch, up close and personal, the Stellar sea lions, sea otters and bald eagles. Actually, we saw seven eagles lined up on a tree limb watching for their next meal. We hiked the islands and saw another bear, but not too close because it was on the move. The forests were lush, and we saw some unusual creatures like the banana slug. It was well-named for its shape and color.
Glacier Bay National Park was amazing. We got up-close info about the native Tlingit culture when a member of the group came on board to share the lore and legend of the area. A Park Range also joined us for dinner, and we were able to ask lots of questions.
The next day, after a great day hiking the beach tidal pools and trails, we got back on board and were able to see an amazing group of eight humpback whales fishing. I would say this was the highlight of the cruise; being able to see Humpback whales “bubble” fishing. There only 6000 humpbacks in the entire world and only 60 of these whales fish using bubbles. It starts with the whales locating a school of fish with their “radar”. The “caller” whale dives down under the school and starts singing and blowing bubbles causing the fish to move to the surface. The other whales follow the bubbles up under the fish; as the fish get close to the surface the whole group of whales open their mouths catching the fish. The sea water gushes out the sides of their mouths. Quite an amazing sight and sound!
We now head for Sitka, the only town in Alaska on the ocean. There is a very strong Russian influence here as this town was conquered by the Russians because of the seals. The Russian Orthodox Church was beautiful and unusual in its design – there was no seating. We were able to visit the Raptor Rehabilitation Center. There we saw Bald eagles, owls and other species up close. Most of these birds have been injured in some way and will be released after they have regained their health.
The totem park was great, too. Each totem was different and told a story about the family that was represented, most were 20 feet high or more.
We flew out of Sitka the next morning and headed to our respective homes.
You’ll hear the thunderous crack of calving glaciers. Sail alongside pods of orca; see breaching humpbacks and foraging brown bears on our small ship Alaska cruise. Hike verdant old-growth rain forests and kayak peaceful coastlines. In the 30+ years we’ve been exploring, we have provided the richest experience possible on our Alaska expedition cruises.
What It’s Like/What You’ll Do
How you’ll spend your time and reward your curiosity…
Step aboard for an unforgettable Alaska travel exploration of a dynamic environment teeming with wildlife—and get the most in-depth experience possible. Our cruise ships to Alaska are perfect for exploring places large ships cannot go, and they foster very welcoming communities where camaraderie kindles. You’ll sail through narrow channels and past towering mountains; stand on the open bow to observe wildlife. Sleep soundly and wake to fresh vistas of glaciers and forests outside your cabin.
Choice of daily activities: Hike, kayak, and snap photos. Head off to explore a glacier aboard our expedition landing craft, go for a long hike in a towering forest with the wellness specialist if you crave exercise, or choose a short slower walk, with time for your naturalist to share the unique wonders of the native flora. Stay aboard and read if you prefer. Or enjoy a wellness treatment in the spa. There’s no one-size-fits-all scheduling here: you can choose your activities, activity levels, and staff members to join every day.
Explore the region’s places and wildlife: Ship-based exploration lets you explore the wondrous and diverse habitats of Alaska. Hike over the spongy ground in a century-old forest and see bears one day, and approach a calving glacier by expedition landing craft the next. Sail into Glacier Bay National Park and linger in a quiet lagoon to observe a group of humpback whales.
See the undersea, too: Exclusive to us, and on every Alaska expedition—undersea exploration. An undersea specialist dons cold-water diving gear to shoot video of the undersea to share in the ship’s lounge. Watch as purples and greens spring to life as beams of light paint the seafloor 40 to 80 feet deep in places never before explored. See vast kelp forests swaying in the currents, and discover strange and wonderful marine life here—it is pure exploration of sites seldom, if ever, seen by humans.
Kayak and expedition landing craft cruise scenic shorelines: Our ships are outfitted with tandem and single kayaks that allow for personal, water-level exploration of the scenic coastlines. Kayak past nesting birds and lounging sea lions, or just enjoy the silence. Shoreline cruises aboard expedition landing craft are perfect for relaxed exploration with a naturalist’s narration and the ideal platform for photography.
Experience the cultures and heritage: A Huna Tlingit Cultural Interpreter joins us aboard when we sail into their ancestral homeland, Glacier Bay National Park. Learn the lore and legends that add a fascinating cultural layer to the breathtaking scenery. Plus, visit an authentic Alaskan town and fishing village to explore the waterfront and shops. Visit the ancestral Haida village of SGang Gwaay (Ninstints), a UNESCO World Heritage Site or K’una (Skedans), to immerse yourself in Haida history, culture and impressive art—on our Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia and Haida Gwaii itinerary. We have special permission to visit Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site— the only ship with over 22 guests in over two decades permitted.
Enjoy the daily ritual: Each evening at cocktail hour the entire expedition community gathers in the lounge for an expedition ritual we call Recap. As you enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, various naturalists give talks, the undersea specialist may show video, and your expedition leader will outline the following day’s schedule.
Savor time aboard ship: Wildlife talks and guest lectures will be offered as well. And when the ship is underway, it’s a wonderful time to stand on the bow with a naturalist or photo instructor and scan the horizon for whale spouts, visit the bridge to share the Captain’s view, or visit the sun deck at night for a bit of fresh air.
Pack Your Camera
Capture Alaska and take the best photos of your life…
With breathtaking vistas and iconic wildlife, Alaska is a photographer’s paradise. We’ll take you to the best places and set you up for the perfect shot. And, with the benefit of a trained professional as a traveling companion, you’re sure to go home with incredible images.
Expedition Photography program: Every Alaska departure offers the services of a certified photo instructor. This veteran naturalist is specially trained to assist you with camera settings, the basic elements of framing, composition, and lighting; and to provide tips to ensure you go home with fantastic photos. You’ll be able to capture the moments at the heart of your expedition, and go home a better, more confident photographer—with some of the best shots of your life!
Get even more on a special Photo Expedition: Photo Expeditions are specially designated departures, custom-tailored for immersion in photography—whether you’re a beginner, advanced hobbyist, or serious shooter. Explore Alaska where photo ops abound with an expert at your elbow to give you the tip you need when you need it—and all the time you need to get your shots right. Alaska Photo Expeditions feature outings timed to take advantage of the best light—aboard expedition landing craft for up close encounters with marine mammals, or on trails and hikes. Plus, unique “share and learn” opportunities like onboard photo clinics, one-to-one critiques and inclusive “laptop gallery” events to see each other’s shots.
Alaska Global Stewardship
Preserving wildlife and promoting projects that make a positive difference; Various Cruise Lines support stewardship efforts in the places we explore. Traveler contributions in Southeast Alaska currently support our regional partner, Alaska Whale Foundation, in its efforts to study and conserve Alaska’s whales and other wildlife. Guest donations in Southeast Alaska also support an Early Career Grant program, which promotes future leaders with novel and exploratory projects that span the fields of conservation, education, research, storytelling, and technology. In awarding each $5,000-$10,000 grant, preference is given to projects that directly impact Southeast Alaska or that align with our mission to preserve the ocean, coastlines, and coastal communities anywhere the fleets travel.
The itinerary & experience make the most of your time & curiosity. Each week aboard is crafted to offer you the most in-depth experience of Alaska possible. Flexibility is a hallmark of our expeditions, and often the day-by-day itinerary will change when we take advantage of a sighting of a pod of orcas or linger on shore to watch a brown bear sow and her cubs forage. An extraordinary visit to Alaska is a guarantee.
DAY 1: Juneau, Alaska/Embark Ship: Our Forest Service Special Use Permit for Tongass National Forest enables you to hike and kayak in wild and remote areas of Southeast Alaska. Explore Juneau and the Alaska State Museum with its sprawling collection of natural history and cultural artifacts. Settle into your cabin before dinner. Later, explore the port of Juneau on your own. (D)
DAY 2: Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness: Voyage into Tracy or Endicott Arm, both spectacular fjords, with waterfalls cascading from glacially carved walls. See the soaring Dawes or South Sawyer Glacier up close and take a cruise in an expedition landing craft for an unbeatable view among sculpted icebergs. Keep an eye out for harbor seals, harbor porpoises and arctic terns. (B,L,D)
DAY 3: Petersburg: Visit the small, true Alaskan fishing town of Petersburg on Mitkof Island, which still retains much of its Norwegian heritage. Explore a unique Southeast Alaskan ecosystem, the “muskeg,” with stunted trees and carnivorous plants. There is an opportunity for bike riding and an optional flightseeing excursion. Enjoy a crab feast this evening. (B,L,D)
DAY 4: Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait: Explore along the rugged coast seeking out humpback whales in their summer feeding grounds. Expert staff will interpret their life histories and behaviors as we cruise the nutrient rich waters. Later we will explore the shoreline by kayak or go ashore to explore the rainforest ecosystem. (B,L,D)
DAY 5: Icy Strait and the Inian Islands: Explore among the Inian Islands, where an abundance of Steller sea lions and sea otters reside. We’ll search for marine mammals in the rich waters of Icy Strait and choose the perfect spot around Chichagof Island to hike where sightings of bald eagles are very common. (B,L,D)
DAY 6: Glacier Bay National Park: By special permit, we explore Glacier Bay. Wildness abounds—glaciers calving, mountain goats roam the steep cliffs and brown bears patrol the shore; Steller sea lions and puffins live in the icy waters. A native Tlingit cultural interpreter joins us to share the lore and legend of the area. We will also be joined by a National Park Service Ranger. (B,L,D)
DAY 7: Southeast Alaska’s Islands, Bays and Fjords: Today, nature is our guide. We may explore an isolated beach to take a closer look at tide pools, beachcomb, hike stunning forest trails, or see bear tracks worn into the soil while walking an isolated meadow. If conditions permit, we will do some kayaking, always watching for marine and terrestrial life. (B,L,D)
DAY 8: Sitka/Disembark: After breakfast we disembark in Sitka, Southeast Alaska’s only oceanfront town. Visit the onion-domed St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church. At the Raptor Rehabilitation Center, we enjoy close-up views of bald eagles, owls and other species normally seen at a distance. (B)
Call TravelKatz – 352-277-7300 to book YOUR Alaska Adventure Cruise – An Expedition Experience