This sample itinerary is only a guideline; variations may occur to maximize your experience.
Welcome to Seattle! Depending on your vessel, you will sail north from downtown Seattle admiring the waterfront skyline view, or depart from Fishermen’s Terminal transiting the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks where you’re lowered twenty feet into the Salish Sea.
Wake up in Hood Canal, one of the quietest reaches of Puget Sound. About 65 miles long, this fjord separates the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas. Your expedition team has big plans for the day. Daypacks packed, boots on your feet. Hit the trail for a hike into the Olympic Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Giant old-growth trees, ferns, wild rhododendron—the flora is dense and diverse. Tonight holds a special treat. It’s a tasting of local oysters and clams. Paired with a locally-brewed beer—delicious!
Mountains rise higher and fjords become more dramatic. Intricate waterways and fjords alongside temperate rainforests are ideal for sighting orca, seals, sea lions, sea otters, dolphins, porpoise, sea birds, and spotting bald eagles from on deck. Unlock the natural history of the area and discover how Native influences and the fishing and forest industries have shaped these sparsely-populated islands and communities.
Mountains rise higher. Fjords get deeper. It’s a day of intricate waterways and cruising for critters. The Strait of Georgia narrows into Seymour Narrows. Civilization slips away as you enter Johnstone Strait, where you may spot a pod of orcas. Surf-happy dolphins and porpoise like to catch a ride on the bow wave. Your captain and crew are on the lookout and give the call of a sighting. Islands of green. The Coast Range. Small communities dotting the beaches and fjords. Aiming to entertain and educate over the next days, your expedition team is at the ready. Natural history, Native influences, and their favorite trivia games, too.
Take your cup of coffee to the bow. The world wakes up with you. Bald eagles watch the ship along its course from tree tops. Islands to the west, inlet-etched mainland etched to the east. Fitz Hugh Sound was first explored by Europeans in the 1720’s. Today, it’s favored by sail boats. Your captain and mates navigate the twisting passage. Harbor seals spend their days on rocky islets. Breathe in the fresh air and take in the views. In the lounge, your bartender mixes up the daily special. Take the challenge and play a few friendly hands of cards with your shipmates.
Start the morning with guided stretches on the sun deck. Red roofs of Boat Bluff Lighthouse greet you as you pass into Tolmie Channel. The Great Bear Rainforest, known for the white “spirit” bear, stretches all around you. Princess Royal Island marks the southern border of the bear’s territory. Spunky sea otters off the starboard. And a waterfall and old abandoned cannery come into view. That’s Butedale. Once a fishing hub, now a ghost town. Pass Dixon Entrance and postcard-perfect Dundas Island Lighthouse. Leave behind British Columbia waters and continue on—to Alaska.
Take a town day in Alaska’s southernmost city, the “salmon capital of the world.” Ketchikan’s claim-to-fame–the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles. 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!
It does get misty here. In fact, down right mystical. 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. Misty Fjords is the largest Wilderness Area in the Tongass National Forest. Behm Canal separates the western edge of the monument from the mainland. It’s a haven for wildlife—grizzly and black bears, salmon, whales, mountain goats, and deer. Paddle through a bay, silty from the runoff of a mountain river. On shore, your guide points out intertidal curios along the beach. The gaze of watchful eagles keeps you on point.
Between Cleveland Peninsula and Etolin Island sits Ernest Sound—first charted in 1793. In some of its least-explored reaches, drop anchor. Your expedition team has a full list of activities in queue. Boots, paddles, skiff? Pull on your rubber boots. They were made for the deep forest you’re hiking into. Paddle around tiny islets that dot the edges of Deer Island. Or scoot further away with the speed of a skiff to serene pockets carved into the rugged coastline. This evening, relax on deck to the call of the wild.
Sailing into Petersburg, the views of Devil’s Thumb and snow-topped peaks are motivation enough to put one foot in front of the other. Hard-charge up Petersburg Mountain or choose a mellower hike along Petersburg Creek. Take time to stroll through town. Or visit the museum for a dose of Tlingit and Norwegian history before lunch back on board. Go slow in Frederick Sound. It’s a favored summer home for humpback whales. Let the search begin. Take a jaunt by kayak or paddleboard before calling it a day for happy hour.
North into glacially-carved Chatham Strait. Captain picks the anchorage. Your top-notch expedition team plans the fun. And rain or shine, anything is possible. Paddling. Skiffing. Beachcombing. Bears like it too—Chichagof Island has one of the highest brown bear populations in the world.
There’s a cool factor, and it’s not just coming off the face of the glaciers! This 3.3 million-acre park 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, 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. It’s a full day in the bay exploring Muir’s legacy—all the way to Grand Pacific and Margerie Glaciers. Celebrate with a toast to Ma’ Nature’s handiwork.
Bull whip kelp threads through nearby channels like a jungle mangrove. And you know better, but orange and purple starfish and jellyfish 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. Dall’s porpoise feast in the nutrient-rich water too. And bears lumber about for an afternoon nosh. Try getting a little closer to the shoreline by skiff, kayak, or on foot. Sometimes the smallest things are the biggest wonders. Take in the evening solitude from the bow, or the hot tub. Or both—why choose just one?
Disembark after breakfast, where your outfitter will transfer you to the Juneau airport for your trip home or for the rest of your journey.
*For trips departing from Juneau, Alaska, the itinerary will be in reverse.
Depending on which trip dates you choose, your adventure begins in either Seattle, Washington or Juneau, Alaska. If you begin your trip in Seattle, you will travel north to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks where your vessel will be lowered into the Salish Sea. If you begin your trip in Juneau, Alaska you will set sail for Endicott Arm.
The last night on the ship, you will have a special farewell dinner, and the next morning after breakfast, you will disembark in either Juneau, Alaska or Seattle, Washington.
All on-board meals; premium spirits, wine, and beer; 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. On some vessels wellness offerings are also included such as hot tubs, fitness equipment, yoga mats, and a complimentary massage.
In May, expect daytime highs ranging from 45°F – 75°F with nighttime temperatures ranging from 30°F – 50°F. In August and September, the daytime highs will range from 50°F – 75°F with nighttime temperatures ranging from 35°F – 55°F. 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 in May and August, allowing you to enjoy the beautiful light change on the landscape.
This waterway hugs the coastline and provides an exciting way to watch the landscape change from coastal mountain ranges, temperate rainforests, and glaciers. It also allows you to view the other travelers of the inlets and coves – humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, seals, and other marine life.
This is a small-scale cruise and depending on the dates you select, your vessel will have between 22 -84 guests and a generous guest to guide ratio of 2-3 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 of your adventure activities.
Your vessel will depend on which launch date you choose. All vessels are spacious and offer ample vantage points for taking in the sights. The ships carry all the adventure equipment for guests including kayaks, paddleboards, inflatable skiffs, hiking poles, and more. All cabins are equipped with a TV and DVD, iPod docking station, air conditioning, private bath with shower, and generous closet space. Your vessel may include an intimate lounge, fully stocked bar, and cozy library to sit back and relax. Some vessels also come equipped with a hot tub, sauna, fitness area, or 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!
For this trip, your vessel will pass through Canada’s scenic waterways, which means that you will be required to bring a valid passport with you on your journey.
Your days will be filled from the moment you wake until you retire to your cabin with opportunities 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.
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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