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Travel the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay National Park on this 13-day small ship expedition cruise in Alaska with UnCruise Adventures. Whales and wildlife, kayaking and hiking take centre stage on this journey that will take you through the inside passages and Glacier Bay National Park plus remote wilderness of this spectacular region. You'll discover the fascinating native culture and history of this part of the world plus come face-to-face with epic glaciers, rugged coastline and Alaska's unique wildlife.
Day 1: Seattle
Check-in at the hospitality centre today and later, board your ship and settle in. Depending on your vessel, depart from downtown Seattle, cruising along the city’s picturesque waterfront. Or leave from Fisherman’s Terminal and transit the historic Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where it’s a 20-foot drop into the Salish Sea. Adieu, Seattle.
Each island in the San Juan archipelago is different. Orcas and harbour seals could be spotted in any passage. Kayak or paddleboard along a tucked-away cove. Sea stars dot rocky outcroppings orange and purple. Curious harbour seals watch your moves. Get in more mileage on a skiff ride to further inlets. There will be time to hike too. Look low and nose around pools for creatures left behind by the outgoing tide.
Mountains rise higher here and fjords get deeper. It’s a day of intricate waterways and cruising, keeping watch for black bears onshore, as well as the elusive spirit bear. Civilisation slips away as you enter remote waters leading north through British Columbia. Surf-happy dolphins and porpoise like to catch a ride on the bow wave. Your captain and crew are on the lookout and will give the call of a sighting. A waterfall and old abandoned cannery come into view at Butedale. Slow down and take it all in as forested fjords roll by. Aiming to entertain and educate over the next days, your expedition team is at the ready. Natural history, Native influences, and their favourite trivia games, too.
In Ketchikan, connect with the Tlingit culture. Tribal leader and local legend Joe Williams, known as 'Ka Xesh X’e' in his native language, guides you on a walking tour. With a rich oral tradition, the Tlingit passed stories from generation to generation—and Joe’s storytelling is captivating! Amble through the surrounding forest on a moderate-to-easy trail or challenge yourself to a hard-charger hike along trails and boardwalks past cedar, spruce, streams, and waterfalls. Next up, Misty Fjords is the largest Wilderness Area in the Tongass National Forest and a haven for wildlife—grizzly and black bears, salmon, and deer. Calm settles over these parts and all you can hear is nature. Deep glacial fjords filled with seawater. Wetlands, estuaries, dense forests, and sweeping granite cliffs. Paddle through a bay, silty from the outwash of a mountain river.
Enjoy a morning stretch on deck with your guide. Your captain is at the helm today and along with your expedition team, will pick just the right spot. Wherever you head, the adventures are as big as the water is deep. So many hidden pockets in the Tongass National Forest. Give your paddleboard skills a glide. Watch for big-eyed harbour seals from a kayak. Bushwhack into the forest of giants. Your guides know the area’s history and keep it lively.
If it’s high tide, a skiff ride brings you up-close to LeConte Glacier’s iceberg gardens. Sculpted by the warm summer air, these glacial works of art are a testament to the mastery of Mother Nature. If tides are low, take a walk to check out icebergs resting on the mudflats. Surrounded by national forest, Ideal Cove’s boardwalk trails wind through habitat known as “muskegs,” boggy meadows of ferns and grasses. Or test your balance paddle boarding in this quiet cove. It’s just you and the vast wilderness.
Humpbacks head to this region each season to feed on zooplankton and herring. Watch for whales feasting in these abundant glacial waters. Hang out and enjoy the show. Based on wind and weather, your expedition team has the lineup of adventures all mapped out. Cruise past Five Fingers Lighthouse, Alaska’s oldest light station, and The Brothers Islands, where sea lions nap on rocky nobs. From kayak or skiff, scope the intertidal zones of un-named bays and coves. Eagles fish here too, their white noggins giving away their perches. Paddle into a seascape of wild, forested islets, or take the pace down a notch with an easy stroll amidst the tidepools. It’s remote and remarkable.
Alaska’s wild natural history surrounds the historic community of Sitka. It’s a quick ride to Fortress of the Bear. Tour this home for orphaned bears and observe their unique personalities. With access to the Tongass National Forest all around you, take the hint and take a hike—your guides know the way into the mountains to a clear lake and along boardwalk trails through a temperate rainforest to a waterfall. Later, set sail into Peril Strait and join your expedition guides who share the tragic tales of how this passage earned its foreboding name.
Remote passages offer more opportunities for you to search for the mighty humpback whale. Keep your binoculars at hand and watch for the misty spout of these gentle giants as they feed in the waters around you. Anchor in a remote Chichagof Island inlet. Backpacks loaded and adventure toys lowered (skiffs, paddleboards, kayaks), it’s time to go play. Stick to the water in a kayak excursion, and don’t forget to look above and below the surface. A nosy seal could be watching your every stroke. Beachcomb rocky shores. Tiny creatures cling to rocks. Tonight, take a nightcap to the sun deck and watch the sky.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was covered by ice as recently as 1795. Since then, the park’s receding glacier activity has made it a lot easier to access those inner reaches. Pick up a park ranger at Bartlett Cove in the early hours. Glacial history, retreats, advances, moraines. They come with expert insight from a park ranger and your onboard naturalists, so bring on the questions. Pigeon guillemots, puffins, and cormorants colonize and nest at South Marble Island. One good whiff and a few loud barks give away one of its mammalian residents—Steller’s sea lions. It’s a full day in the bay exploring John Muir’s legacy, all the way to Grand Pacific and Margerie Glaciers. Celebrate with a toast to nature’s handiwork.
Bullwhip kelp threads through nearby channels like deep, twisted mangroves. The orange and purple starfish and jellyfish here make it hard to believe you’re not in the tropics. Follow the currents out to where the sea lions flock to remote rock formations. Your captain is on the bridge, the expedition team on deck and all eyes are on the water and the shore. Everyone is on watch for the telltale blow of humpbacks. Come closer to the shoreline by skiff, kayak, or on foot. Sometimes the smallest things are the biggest wonders. Take in the evening solitude from on deck. Tonight, join your captain for the Farewell Dinner. As a special treat, your expedition team shares a slideshow of your journey.
Disembark in Alaska's capital after breakfast and transfer to the Juneau airport for your onward journey.
The Safari Endeavour is a ship to be remembered. She covers more territory than any other ship from UnCruise Adventures’ fleet, and both the ship and the crew are known to be true explorers. But not only that, she looks good too – wood fixtures and accents shine, and the artwork throughout the interior highlights the warm and cool waters of the regions in which she sails.
Exploration, access and comfort all share equal importance on the Wilderness Explorer. Adventure ready with casual ambience, the onboard amenities and equipment on this 74-guest expedition vessel put the focus on action, adventure and relaxation - the perfect combination.
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