Alaska Experience Guide

Purchased from Russia in 1867—much to the chagrin of the disapproving United States public—Alaska was an incredible unknown treasure. But shortly after, gold was discovered and the rush was on.

John Muir, Edward S. Curtis, William Dall, Jack London, Eliza Scidmore, and many other intrepid men and women have all been wooed by its glaciers, rainforests, and wildlife-rich fjords. Shaped by massive glaciers over millions of years, Alaska presents one of the most wildly rugged, diverse, and spectacular landscapes.

Ideal for those with an explorer’s spirit and a love for nature, Alaska delivers. Aboard our small ships, access to off-the-beaten path places, wildlife up-close, and opportunities to experience it by hike, kayak, and skiff show a side of Alaska few visitors know.

Wildlife Guide



Like the landscape, the wildlife in Southeast Alaska is big. You may spot mountain goats patrolling shoreline cliffs, black bears catching their lunch, and, moose foraging in marshy tidelands. The mainland and islands of Southeast are ripe for sightings.

  • Mountain goats
  • Coastal brown bear
  • Black bears
  • Moose
  • Sitka black-tailed deer
  • River otter
  • Beaver
  • Snowshoe hares


Whales & Marine Life

Alaska is known for its rich marine life: salmon, halibut, crab, and whales. The most commonly spotted cetaceans are orca and humpacks that migrate to these waters annually, but surprisingly, there are species under the water's surface you might never suspect.

  • Whales: humpback, gray, fin, minke
  • Orca
  • Dall’s porpoise and dolphins
  • Harbor seals
  • Steller sea lions
  • Sea otters
  • Salmon: Chinook, Coho, Pink
  • Sea stars, sponges, and anemones


Whether you're a birder, or not, Alaska offers phenomenal for birding. Giant eagles perched in the towering firs and buoyant flocks bobbing among rocky shores. With binoculars in hand, your expedition guides will help identify the species you encounter.

  • Bald eagles
  • Black oystercatchers
  • Marbled murrelets and Cormorants
  • Common and Pacific loons
  • Harlequin ducks
  • Red-breasted merganser
  • Surf scoters and pigeon guillemots
  • Tufted and horned puffin

Seasonal Variations

April and May—a favorite time of year for many—is Alaska Awakening! Bears, baby animals, spring flowers, budding forests, snow-covered peaks, gushing waterfalls, and shorter days makes Aurora Borealis sightings possible. Plus, the weather is good and it's crowd-free.

Long days are a signature for Alaska summers—meaning extra playtime. Daytime temps are warmer, so there's more melting. Better access to higher elevations on hikes. And Humpbacks are back en masse. Come summer's end, wildlife gets busy—mating, migrating, and feeding up for winter.


Alaska Slideshow

Rambling bears, leaping whales, playful otters, and dramatic, huge wilderness…take a look at what you’re likely to experience while sailing with us in Southeast Alaska by clicking on the image at left to view.

What to See & Do on an Alaska Adventure Cruise


On Board

  • From the bow, keep watch for whales, Dall’s porpoises, and the antics of Steller sea lions at a local haulout
  • Return from a wilderness excursion and be greeted by your crew with a mug of hot chocolate or a hot toddy
  • Count the red and green lights as your vessel navigates “Christmas Tree Lane” in Wrangell Narrows
  • Cruise—where the big ships can’t go—through narrow channels, in fjords, and at the terminus of ice rivers, witness calving glaciers
  • At your request, the crew awakens you in the wee hours when the Northern Lights put on their show

In the Water

  • Skiff among the bergy bits (some with lounging critters) floating near the face of a mighty glacier
  • Kayak and skiff along the towering walls of a steep fjord or into hidden inlets of a tucked-away cove
  • Depending on your boat, snorkel with orange waving sea anemone, silvery fish, and slow-moving sea stars
  • Test your mettle with a “polar plunge” jumping from the aft deck into the cool Alaska saltwater
  • Paddle board along the reaches of an isolated and remote, forest-covered island


On Land

  • Hike through temperate rainforest listening for sounds and watching for bird and wildlife sightings
  • Hike on boot-sucking sandbars at the foot of a glacier, or explore an intertidal zone in search of microscopic life
  • A Forest Ranger guides you on an exploration of El Capitan Cave, or hike a trail at Glacier Bay National Park headquarters in Bartlett Cove
  • Along a coastal river trail, watch for birds soaring high above and in the lush vegetation around you
  • Mingle with locals, view totems, and uncover Tlingit and Haida culture

Itinerary Comparison

To download a copy of the Alaska Itinerary Comparison, click here

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