Alaska Cruise: Juneau to Petersburg - 2008

This cruise offers a diverse experience of Southeast Alaska, from fishing towns to wilderness solitude and exploration by foot and by kayak. This glacial wilderness supports a diversity of wildlife as varied as the landscape. On water you may see humpback whales, orca, porpoise, and stellar sea lion as well as numerous sea birds. On land you may see black bear, brown bear, and mountain goats.

Itinerary

Day 1: Juneau / Embarkation / Limestone Inlet

Embark the ship near downtown Juneau. The ship will be underway at approximately 1:15 pm, headed south down Gastineau Channel and out into Stephens Passage. Enjoy a buffet lunch as well as an orientation and safety meeting. After a few hours, settle into Limestone Inlet where the boat will anchor for the night. This evening or the following day, the trained kayaking instructor will introduce the kayaks (six doubles and three singles). The doubles are very stable for the beginner and the singles allow the expert to exercise his or her skills. You may also take a skiff ride up the river to look for bears, jumping salmon and nesting water fowl.

Day 2: Wood Spit and Endicott Arm

The ship will be underway in the early morning hours to make the slack tide across Wood spit and into Endicott Arm, dodging icebergs and winding its way into the fjord. It is twenty seven miles up the Arm to the face of Dawes Glacier where you will linger for awhile to witness the calving and booming of the burgs and view harbor seals and their pups. Next, you make your way to a seldom visited anchorage called Fords’ Terror, comparable to a flooded Yosemite Valley. Here, you will be surrounded by 5,000 foot granite cliffs as you explore by foot and by kayak.

Day 3: Ford’s Terror

This morning, you hike the highlands of Ford’s Terror unique glacial ecosystem of alpine, bog and forest and view the raging tidal rapids from above. Then, departing Endicott Arm, watch for bear, moose, wolves, and whales. Tides permitting, you may stop to hike a meadow and woods along the way. Stopping at Wood Spit, the terminus moraine of Dawes Glacier, walk the spit and learn about the fascinating geology of this glacial area, its Tlingit culture, and gold rush history. The spit is frequented by deer, nesting bald eagles, and an array of water birds.

Day 4: Stephens Passage / Frederick Sound / Admiralty Island

Head back to Stephens Passage and into Frederick Sound and on to Admiralty Island, keeping a sharp lookout for whales along the route. This is prime salmon spawning habitat, along with the brown bears that come down to the rivers this time of year to feed. Here, you’ll have an estuary paddle, allowing the tide to take you into bear territory. At low tide, take a stroll along the beach.

Day 5: The Brothers

This morning, head for The Brothers, a group of small islands positioned in the middle of Frederick Sound. Along the way, stay alert for Humpback or Orca whale sightings. This is one of the prime summer feeding grounds for the migratory Humpback. The captain may shut down the engine and just drift in order to watch them feed or breach, or listen to their songs with the hydrophone. This afternoon, kayak around the islands, or fish for halibut for an evening meal.

Day 6: Beachcombing / Thomas Bay / Scenery Cove / Baird Glacier

If the tides are right, explore the tide pools and then head out to view the Stellar Sea Lion haul-out close by where hundreds of the vocal fellows and felines spend their days. If the Humpbacks are out, spend some time shadowing their movements. In the afternoon, you head south down the sound for Thomas Bay and watch for black bear on the beaches, anchoring at Scenery Cove. You will then skiff across the glacial river to the spit of glacial flour and hike on the extensive glacial moraine that lies at the foot of Baird Glacier to stand on its ice. Tonight is your last evening on the boat and the night of the Captains' Ball.

Day 7: Petersburg / Disembarkation

A relaxing morning underway, eating a late breakfast and sitting on the deck as you head toward Petersburg. Dock around 10 AM, in time to catch the morning flight to Juneau and on to Seattle or to get settled into your room in town so that you can explore the village.

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