This sample itinerary is only a guideline; variations may occur to maximize your experience.
Welcome aboard! Meet your crew and get acquainted as we set sail for the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the US.
Wake in a fjord flanked by sheer granite walls. Grab a hot cup of coffee and take it all in from the bow. Cascading waterfalls. Drifting icebergs. A lazy harbor seal or two. Layer up with gloves and a warm hat, and hop in a skiff for a better look at the glacier—the temps drop the closer you get. Your expedition guide clues you in to signs of the ice ages that carved this landscape. The geology is fascinating and so is the wildlife. Keep an eye out for mountain goats, bears, and eagles. Make waves for Stephens Passage. It’s all hands on deck watching for signs of humpbacks. It’s a big first day!
Have your rubber boots handy. You’re in for muskeg and mud in Alaska’s backcountry. Hiking along Baird’s moraine, look for shimmers of gold and quartz—this area is known for it. The glacial runoff plains look almost lunar, but you’re not alone in this moonscape. The glacial valley is a nesting hot-spot for arctic terns. Splash away the mud before a paddle along the bay’s mossy cliff walls. Back on board, it’s time for a cocktail and a soak in the hot tub.
LeConte is the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America. If tides are low, take a boot-sucking walk to check out icebergs resting on the mudflats. If it’s high tide, a skiff ride brings you up-close to its iceberg gardens. Surrounded by national forest, Ideal Cove’s boardwalk trails wind through meadows of ferns and grasses. Or test your balance paddle boarding in this quiet cove. It’s just you and the vast wilderness.
“Kake” comes from a Tlingit word meaning “opening of daylight.” Apropos, start your day in this native village with traditional storytelling and dancing. Count the many totems on their 132-foot pole. Drop the kayaks in Saginaw Bay or some other hidden cove along the Keku Islands. Black bears are common sights along shore. But so are eagles in the treetops and orange-billed surf scoters paddling nearby. For hikers, your guides have a route in mind. Make for the forest, far off the map. Cruising Frederick Sound, chances are high you’ll see humpbacks. The up-welling of nutrients in the water make it an irresistible feeding ground.
Leave it to the captain to steer you through Chatham and Peril Straits. At Baranof Island, your top-notch expedition team has the game plan dialed. Tap some of the most untouched wilderness in the Tongass. Head to the woods for an adventuresome bushwhack. Or slide into a kayak for an easygoing shoreline paddle. Find a perch on deck in Peril Strait—it’s a twisting drama of currents and history.
There aren’t many straight lines along Baranof Island. Its western side is dotted with hundreds of coves and uninhabited islands. This is a prime area for spotting sea otters. It’s no surprise to round a corner in your kayak and find one looking at you and you looking at him. The protected beaches are made for exploring the intertidal zones, and spotting bears. So, boot up for a guided hike. End your day with celebration and a toast at a heartfelt Farewell Dinner. Your expedition team treats you to a photo recap of the week’s adventures.
While others end their adventure and new guests join later in the day, you’ll spend the day off the boat. It’s a quick ride to Fortress of the Bear. Tour this home for orphaned bears and observe their unique personality. With access to the Tongass National Forest all around you, take the hint and take a hike—your guides know the way. Or get to know Russian-influenced Sitka as you please—shuttles will run from your ship into town. Reboard in time for happy hour and get to know newly arrived travel mates. Set sail into Sitka Sound with unmistakable views of Mt. Edgecumbe—a volcanic wonder in its own right. Laundry service is provided today.
Shhh… If you don’t say a word, you can hear the sounds of these Sounds. Dense Baranof Island forest to one side. Small, wild, lesser-known islands on the other. You might even spot black bears loping on shore although they’re likely to catch a whiff of you first. And keep watch for neighboring sea lions and eagles, too. Your first day offers options to drop anchor and find adventure. Slip into a kayak. Nose along shore in a skiff. Or head into the Tongass National Forest on foot with your expedition team. The possibilities, endless. Reward yourself when you get back to the boat, the crew will have a treat waiting.
Nothing like kick starting the morning with on-deck yoga stretches and a chaser of exploration mode d’jour—motor, paddle, boots. It might be your toughest transition of the day. In and around Icy Strait, glide through giant bullwhip kelp (it can grow to over 100 feet long). Skiff to a rocky outcropping and watch sea lions play. Mud boots serve their purpose on a forest hike with your top-notch guides, who are sharp and have plenty to share about everything Alaska—animals, plants, and even geology. At the end of this unforgettable day, you’ve earned a soak in the hot tub.
Enter, the granddaddy of national parks—Glacier Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Once you round Point Gustavus, a park ranger joins you on board with a font of knowledge. The uniqueness of this place starts to sink in, as one of its truly privileged visitors. Sea lions jockey for position among puffins, black oystercatchers, and other sea birds at South Marble Island. Mountain goats climb and bears scrounge for food along the park’s inland shores. Motor deeper into the park to Margerie and Grand Pacific, two tidewater glaciers on their downward march into the bay.
Your course is set—wildlife-rich Alaskan wilderness. Head to the bridge or bow, and watch for whales and other creatures before tucking into Port Frederick or some other wild inlet. You’re about to get a close up look. Muskeg under foot, head out on a bushwhacking hike in the Tongass National Forest or board a skiff, eyes wide for bears on shore.
Not so much a canal, as a fjord—in fact, North America’s deepest at over 2,000 feet. This once major route of Klondike gold rushers is now a busy inlet for humpbacks, orcas, Dall’s porpoise, Steller sea lions, salmon, halibut, and mischievous river otters. And that’s at water level. Look up, and you see bald eagles. Looking like golf balls in the tree tops when they’re not soaring overhead. But it’s not all looking and seeing today, your captain is on task to pick the prime spot for adventure. Feel the burn on a long paddling excursion. Search tide pools for microscopic life. Or, hike a shadow-filled forest.
The unofficial adventure capital of Alaska. Hard-charging or smell the flowers, pick your speed. In this bald eagle hotspot, you have choices to make. Hit the trailhead with your guides to the top of Chilkat Peninsula or the shores of Chilkat Inlet. Some of the best trails with the best views. Or, raft along the Chilkat River on a float trip through the bald eagle preserve. The local history—native culture, influence from European explorers, as a US Army outpost, and its gold rush past. Chilkat Tlingit members come aboard and share their tribe’s cultural history and thousands-of-year-old legacy. Soak it up. Then see the sites on foot or by bike with free time in town. It’s a big day. Tonight, celebrate your voyage with a Farewell Dinner and special photo recap from your expedition team.
Bid adieu to new-found friends over breakfast before disembarking. Transfer directly to the Juneau airport or begin your add-on overnight stay or extended land tour.
After meeting your fellow travelers, you will set sail from Juneau, Alaska headed toward the Tongass National Forest.
The last night on the ship, you will have a special farewell dinner, and the next morning after breakfast, you will disembark and be transferred back to the Juneau Airport for your flight home.
All on-board meals; premium spirits, wine, and microbrews; non-alcoholic beverages; exclusive transfers and baggage handling between airport/vessel on embark/disembark days; entry fees to national parks/preserves; all adventure activities and equipment from the boat. Your vessel also has wellness offerings such as hot tubs, sauna, fitness equipment, yoga mats, and a massage room.
You will find Alaska’s summer temperatures surprisingly pleasant. Daytime highs for June – August range from 60°F – 80°F. Nighttime lows are refreshingly cool, dipping into the 40’s – 50’s. May is usually 5°F – 10°F cooler. During this time of year, expect a few days of cloudy weather and rain, but also some clear days. Look forward to long daylight hours and enjoy the beautiful light change on the landscape.
This is a small-scale cruise and depending on the dates you select, your vessel will have a maximum number of 42-44 guests and a generous guest to guide ratio of 2.5 guests for each crew member. This means that you will have plenty of opportunities to learn about the landscape, ecology, and culture of the area, as well as have expert instruction for all your adventure activities.
Your vessel will depend on which launch date you choose. All ships offer ample vantage points for taking in the sights. Ships carry all the adventure equipment for guests including kayaks, paddleboards, inflatable skiffs, hiking poles, and more. All cabins are equipped with a view window, TV and DVD, iPod docking station, private bath with shower, and generous closet space. Your vessel will also include a comfortable lounge and library, and comes equipped with a hot tub, sauna, fitness area, and massage suite to enjoy.
You can look forward to a delicious daily menu filled with meals that include locally sourced ingredients, such as fresh Dungeness crab or Alaskan prawns. For breakfast – you can choose from an early riser breakfast with fresh baked pastries and fruit or a full breakfast with hot, cold, and specialty dishes. For lunch – you will find a range of salads, sandwiches, and homemade soups. For happy hour – enjoy a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres in the lounge. For dinner -choose from several entrées including fresh, local seafood and meat or a vegetarian dish with a chef-selected wine pairing. Be sure to leave room for an indulgent dessert, such as tiramisu.
Travel in Alaska is often characterized by its cool, humid climate. We recommend investing in good rain gear, quick drying base layers, warm socks, and a solid pair of calf height rain boots with a good rubber sole. Every adventure is better with the right gear!
This expedition cruise consists of a flexible, fun, and full itinerary. Your days will be filled from the moment you wake until you retire to your cabin with chances for group meals, off-ship outings, and presentations in the evening. You can choose to participate in the activities and presentations each day or sit them out, but one thing is for sure, this cruise will keep you moving!
We’ve been connecting our clients to water adventures around the world since 1987. We partner with select outfitters who share our values and are pros at creating exceptional experiences. There is no fee for our service; we earn our commission from the outfitters we represent, and the cost of your expedition is the same as booking direct.
Length: 14 nights
Price: $8,295 – $23,395 per person; $500 for port taxes & fees; Kids ages 8 to 13 save $500 per child
Season: May – August
Min. Age: 8 years
Activity: Expedition Cruise
Adventure Level: Mild
I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the Rivers & Oceans’ staff, their organizational skills, knowledge and simply being just nice people. Once I decided to go with them every detail of the adventure was planned, organized and implemented without a hitch.
Absolutely wonderful. Rivers and Oceans is operated by people who truly care about your trip and have the personal experience to help you make the best choice. Now go see for yourself and let Rivers and Oceans lead you towards the adventure of a lifetime.
The folks at Rivers and Oceans are great. Helped us find and book a trip and patiently answered many questions over the weeks preceding the trip. Thank you.
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