Southeast Alaska—Wildlife & Wilderness

7-night adventure cruise from Juneau to Petersburg: Alaska glaciers, fjords, and rainforests

 

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Itinerary

INCLUDED HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Margerie, Grand Pacific, and LeConte Glaciers
  • Full day in Glacier Bay National Park, joined by a park ranger
  • Bushwhack and hike on Chichagof and Baranof Islands 
  • Tlingit culture and private tour of Kake native village
  • Look for wildlife—eagles, sea and shore birds, bears, sea otters, seals, sea lions, and humpbacks
  • Skiff and kayak into quiet inlets
  • Hike, beachcomb, and skiff at Thomas Bay
  • Cruise along big wilderness: towering fjords, rocky shores, and the Tongass National Forest

Departure Dates & Rates

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There are no future departures for this cruise;

Your day-by-day details

Juneau to Petersburg

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DAY 1

Juneau, Alaska – Embarkation
Arriving in Juneau and met with a warm welcome, you have time to take in a bit of the city—shops, quaint pubs, and towering glaciers on the horizon. After boarding, grab a glass of bubbly as you push off the dock and set sail.
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DAY 2

Chichagof Island | Icy Strait
Your course is set for the day—wildlife-rich Alaskan wilderness, and you’re about to get a close up look. One of the ABC islands (which also includes Admiralty and Baranof), Chichagof Island is the 5th largest island in the United States. Step into mud boots for a bushwhacking hike with your top-notch naturalist guides, who have plenty to share about everything Alaska—marine biology, plants, and even geology—calling out “Hey, Bear!” along the way. On board, soak it all in as you soak in the hot tub, with an eagle eye out for humpback sprays.
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DAY 3

Glacier Bay National Park
Welcome to Glacier Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most sought-after park to visit in the United States. A park ranger joins you on board for an inside look at the bears, goats, whales, and sea otters that call the park home. At South Marble Island, sea lions linger among puffins, black oystercatchers, and other sea birds. Finish the day at Margerie and Grand Pacific, two tidewater glaciers on their downward march into the bay. Time permitting, stop at Bartlett Cove to stretch your legs before continuing your journey to Chatham Strait.
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DAY 4

Baranof Island / Chatham Strait
Today it’s off to Baranof Island surrounded by glacier-carved fjords, hanging valleys, old-growth temperate rainforests, and sheer granite mountains. Anchor in a remote inlet and pick your way to play. Hike up through moss-covered trees. Or, hop in a kayak or skiff, looking above and below the surface. A nosy seal could be watching your every stroke, and a humpback fluke just on the horizon. Beachcomb rocky shores where tiny creatures cling to rocks. Tonight, take a nightcap to the sun deck and watch the evening sky.
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DAY 5

Kake | Keku Islands
At the northwest end of Kupreanof Island, dancing, legends, and totems tell the Tlingit story. Tribal members share Kake’s history—settle in, it goes back thousands of years. Ambling along, black bears. Eyes peeled on the woods and the shore. And look up now and again for bald eagles. Across the water lie the Keku Islands, dozens of islets rich with marine life like sea stars and nudibranchs—and some of the best kayaking in Southeast Alaska. Slide into a kayak or skiff and glide along the fingerling islets and passageways. Make for shore on a tidal zone stroll turning up sea life clinging to rocks. Back on board, you’re greeted with a Viking handshake and a belly-warming cocktail.
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DAY 6

Thomas Bay
When you come this far, you might as well go all in. This is the way back backcountry of Alaska's wilderness. In this playground, it's an all-option day. Kayak and skiff in water almost clear as glass—the mirror image of fjord walls playing on the surface reflecting your week of adventure. Take it all in. A seal pup could pop up at any moment to "break the ice." Trekkers get even closer to the mountains. Hike alongside the fjord walls as Cascade Creek falls in a rush beside and beyond your footsteps. Immersed in this hidden wilderness, recreation has never felt more remote yet in the middle of it all.
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DAY 7

Stikine-LeConte Wilderness Area
Alaska wilderness delivers! Flowing a little slower than your typical river, you find a river of ice leading up to the southern-most tidewater glacier—LeConte. Tides and currents decide your LeConte Bay adventures. High tide? Pass bergy-riding seal pups as you weave through the glacier’s sculptural ice gardens. Low tide? Walk among icebergs the size of cars caught in the glacial outwash field. Drop anchor in Ideal Cove and hike along the Three Lakes trail. It's a grand finale of a day. Cap off your week with a celebratory Farewell Dinner and slideshow.
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DAY 8

Petersburg – Disembarkation
Velkommen! Petersburg, nicknamed “Little Norway,” is a hardworking fishing harbor. With the Coast Mountains and Devil’s Thumb looming from across the bay, take in the action—trollers, seiners, longliners, crabbers. After one last breakfast with new friends, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Passport required (non USA citizens). Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur to maximize your experience.

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Ports & Places

The places you visit play a starring role throughout every journey. While this list isn’t exhaustive of every nook-and-cranny you’ll explore along the way, we’ve included descriptions of key ports and places to help you get to know the wilderness areas, landmark locations, notable regions, and coastal towns relevant to this itinerary.

Departure Dates

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There are no future departures for this cruise;
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Juneau, Alaska

Surrounded by the rich, green Tongass National Forest, and located on beautiful Gastineau Channel, Juneau is an important port and a popular tourist destination. Unique because it is the only state capital in the United States that is inaccessible by road, Juneau sits at sea level below the steep mountains that are home to the Juneau Icefield and the Mendenhall Glacier. Its temperate climate produces remarkable scenery with miles of hiking trails through woods and alpine meadows providing a glimpse of just how rugged the rainforest of Southeast Alaska is.

The Auke tribe of Tlingit Indians were the first settlers in the Juneau area. They lived there peacefully enjoying the abundance of food and natural resources until the gold rush began. First named Rockwell and then Harrisburg, Juneau was finally named after gold prospector Joseph Juneau. In 1880, he and his partner, Richard Harris, discovered gold nearby, and the city quickly developed into a gold rush town.

During the lucrative 60 years of gold mining in the area Juneau was home to three of the world's largest gold mines: The Alaska Juneau mine, the Alaska Gastineau mine, and the Treadwell mine. These three mines produced $158 million worth of gold making Juneau one of the world's major gold mining areas until the 1940s when costs outstripped the value of the gold. However, since 2005 the gold mining industry has been experiencing a resurgence.

Officially designated the capital of the Territory of Alaska in 1900, it did not function as the capital until the government offices were moved there from Sitka in 1906. In 1959 Juneau became the official state capital when Alaska was admitted to the United States. Today, its approximately 31,000 citizens live within a 3,255 square mile boundary, an amount of land that makes Juneau's city limits the largest state capital in the United States (and the only state capital that borders a foreign city.)

Along with its delightful small town ambiance, Juneau has a number of art galleries, boutiques, historical sites, and museums. In town you can visit the Alaska State Museum, the House of Wickersham, the Patsy Ann Statue, the 5-stories-tall totem pole outside the Capital Building, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, the Alaska-Juneau gold mine or the salmon hatchery.

One of the most popular attractions in the area is Mendenhall Glacier, located only 13 miles outside the city. Although it’s receding, it is an amazing work of nature. Other attractions include the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge (providing a look at Alaska’s salt marshes and the migratory waterfowl protected there); the Juneau Icefield; the Mt. Roberts Tram (rises 1,800 feet and presents sweeping views of downtown Juneau and Gastineau Channel.) There are more than 205 trails within and surrounding Juneau. They range from fairly flat hikes accessible to wheelchairs and stroller to medium hikes up and down forest trails to strenuous uphill paths for serious hikers.

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Chichagof Island

Chichagof Island is the 5th largest island in the United States and one of the ABC islands of Alaska. It sits at the northern end of the Alexander Archipelago.

Separated from Baranof Island by the Peril Strait to the north, Chichagof Island has the largest population of bears per square mile of any place on earth and is protected by the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness area.

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Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Glacier Bay Park and Preserve is reportedly the most sought after park to visit in the United States and it is no wonder. Where else will you find a 25 mile-long river of ice still carving the land just as it has for the past several thousand years? When Captain Cook and George Vancouver sailed by in 1879, they saw a 20-mile wide glacier where today the entrance of the park lies, as well the wilderness lodge and park headquarters.

Over the past 200 years, this wall of ice has retreated an astonishing 65 miles north, splintering into a vast number of tributaries spaced throughout the entire park. Each glacier has its own name and character; our captain will decide which to visit for the day depending on ice conditions and wildlife sightings.

Visiting Glacier Bay Park is also like visiting a wildlife park. Here bears, goats, moose, whales, sea otters, and all the creatures of the water and forest flourish, completely protected from man. A National Park Ranger joins us for our entire journey to explain the park's geology, glaciology, wildlife, and its deep roots in Tlingit culture.

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Baranof Island

The second island in the ABC islands of Alaska, Baranof Island is also known as Sitka Island. It eloquently sits at the northern end of the Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle surrounded by glacier-carved fjords, hanging valleys, old-growth temperate rainforests and sheer granite mountains. Baranof Island is the tenth largest island in the United States and is mostly covered by the Tongass National Forest. Today most of the southern end of the island is protected by the South Baranof Wilderness.

Around 1900, the town of Sitka was used for many small-scale mining sites, canneries, whaling statins and fox farms. However most of these ventures were abandoned at the beginning of World War II. Today, many of the remains of Baranof Island's past can still be seen.

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Kake

Pronounced like the dessert “cake,” Kake has been inhabited by Tlingit people for thousands of years, and today is home to about 550 residents. While small in size, Kake celebrates a wealth of Tlingit heritage and tradition including the revered craft of totem carving. The town boasts a 132-foot totem pole that was carved in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ purchase of Alaska.

Overlooking Frederick Sound and Baranof Island, this Kupreonof Island town is accessed only by water or air. Due to the Kake’s remote location, encountering town “neighbors” like humpback whales that frequent waters off shore, bear, moose, Sitka black-tailed deer, bald eagles, otters, and seals is a frequent happening.

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Keku Islands

The Keku Islands dot Keku Strait, separating the north ends of Kupreanof and Kuiu islands. These scattered low-lying islands were once occupied by the Tlingit who had villages and camps along the waterway. Stretching about 4 miles, the highest points within this tiny archipelago climb to less than 1,000 feet above sea level. Despite their diminutive size, the islands boast a remarkable variety of terrain—prominent cliffs, gently sloping forests, freshwater lakes, and of course the shoreline—as well as wildlife and marine life.

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Thomas Bay, Alaska

Northeast of Petersburg, Thomas Bay is known for glaciers and its abundance of wildlife. Moose, bears, and wolves are just a few of the animals you may see while traveling through this bay. Rich with gold, quartz and lore, Baird Glacier drains into the bay.

It is also known as “The Bay of Death,” due to a massive landslide that claimed over 500 lives in 1750. It also has gained the name of "Devil's Country" when in 1900 several people claimed to have seen devil creatures in the area.

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Stikine-LeConte Wilderness Area

Nearly 450,000 acres in size, the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness Area stretches between Wrangell, Petersburg, and the Canadian border. Two of the area’s claims to fame include the fastest free-flowing navigable river in the U.S., the Stikine River, and the southern-most tidewater glacier on the Pacific Coast, the LeConte Glacier. Beginning in the springtime, icebergs from the LeConte Glacier can be found drifting as far away as Frederick Sound.

This rich ecosystem hosts several salmon species, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, migrating shorebirds, brown and black bears, moose, and wolves among other wildlife. With wilderness that covers the saltwater and salt flats to the river and up into the alpine, the Stikine-LeConte also hosts a wide array of adventurers, from paddlers and boaters, to ice climbers, hikers, and birders.

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Petersburg

At the north end of Mitkof Island, where Wrangell Narrows meets Frederick Sound, sits picturesque Petersburg. The area has a long fishing history beginning with the Tlingit who used it as a summer fishing camp for thousands of years. Then, in the 1800s, Norwegian immigrants settled here. Named after prominent settler, Peter Buschmann, the fledgling town quickly bustled with a growing industry including a cannery and fish port. Known as “Little Norway”, the town’s Scandinavian history can be seen in architecture of buildings and celebrated festivals and events. Fishing is still Petersburg’s biggest industry—easily seen at its lively docks.

Extend Your Experience

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HOTEL STAY

PETERSBURG - TIDES INN
2019 RATES: From $120

Overlooking Petersburg’s North Harbor of town and Wrangell Narrows, this family-run inn aims to be your home-away-from-home. Known for exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable staff, they’re happy to point you towards interesting sights and parks around town, most just an easy walking distance away.

Summary

Overlooking Petersburg’s North Harbor of town and Wrangell Narrows, this family-run inn aims to be your home-away-from-home. Known for exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable staff, they’re happy to point you towards interesting sights and parks around town, most just an easy walking distance away.

Vessels for this Itinerary

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Safari Quest

Agile, spry, and with clean design lines, the Safari Quest—carrying just 22 guests—can cut into the tiniest nooks that even our other small ships can’t reach. This includes coveted wilderness areas with highly limited access of no more than two groups of twelve guests per day. For those most special adventures, she is the ticket in. While small is her secret for access, on the inside this yacht is anything but. Spacious and comfy cabins. A cozy and welcoming lounge and dining room. And plenty of onboard niches for nestling and relaxing. On a boat this size, camaraderie is near-instant—feel the love.

Onboard Features: Full-beam swim step; underwater bow-mounted camera; kayaks, paddle boards, inflatable skiffs, hiking poles; on-deck hot tub; fitness equipment; DVD and book library

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

Destinations: AlaskaPacific Northwest

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  • 22 guests
  • 11 cabins
  • 10 crew members
  • 120 feet in length
  • 29 feet wide
  • Cruising speed of 10 knots
  • Registered in United States
  • 2:1 Guest-to-crew ratio
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C1-C4, C6
King, queen, or twin beds; elevated port lights (not suitable for viewing); private bath with shower

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B2
Queen bed; view window; private bath with shower

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A1-A4
King, queen, or twin beds; sliding glass door opening to a small balcony; private bath with shower

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B1
Twin bed; view window; private bath with shower (Pullman berth available)