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Siberia & the Sea of Okhotsk - NEW TRIP!

Cruise the Ring of Fire Amid Smoking Volcanoes, Pristine Forests & Bountiful Wildlife
Day 1: Anchorage, Alaska
On arrival in Anchorage, transfer to the Marriott Anchorage Hotel in the heart of Alaska’s largest city for a welcome dinner and orientation.

Days 2 & 3: Anchorage / Petropavlovsk, Russia / Board Ship
We fly as a group across the Bering Sea to Petropavlovsk, surveying the glacier-capped volcanic peaks of the Aleutian Range across Cook Inlet if the weather is clear. Crossing the International Date Line, we skip a day as we arrive in Russia. Petrapavlovsk is one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East, and we explore it on a city tour with hospitable local guides. We’ll visit the Museum of Ethnography and Natural History, the art school and golden-domed Orthodox cathedral, then transfer to the pier after lunch in town to board the Caledonian Sky. This afternoon, get acquainted with the ship as we cruise south along the Kamchatka Peninsula, headed for the seismic wonders and wildlife of the Kuril Islands.

Day 4: Atlasova Island, Kuril Islands
Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Kuril Island group is comprised of 40 volcanoes, 16 of which are active. This afternoon, as we cruise through the First Kuril Strait, look for endangered Steller’s sea eagles that frequent the area. These mighty hunters have astounding vision, able to spot fish from afar and dive more than 100 feet under the water in pursuit of them. Abundant sea otters also frolic in the strait, their presence a heartening rejuvenation after a brush with near-extinction. Step ashore on Atlasova Island, dominated by the 7,600-foot-high Alaid Volcano. A stroll along the black sand beaches reveals the island’s fascinating geology, while a hike inland offers vistas of verdant tundra bursting with wildflowers.

Day 5: At Sea
Take advantage of a relaxing sea day to learn more about the natural history of the region. Join naturalist guides on deck to search for seabirds and marine mammals as we cruise the Sea of Okhotsk, or retreat inside for lectures from our shipboard experts the region’s history and wildlife.

Day 6: Cape Utkholokskiy
This morning we step ashore in Utkholokskiy National Park, a vast and virtually uninhabited wilderness. Here we’ll have excellent opportunities to search for birds and wildlife, including brown bears that are often found foraging along the tidal flats. A close cousin to the coastal brown bears of Alaska, the Siberian brown bear lives in great concentrations in this primeval landscape, sustained by abundant salmon runs.

Day 7: Shelekova Bay

The waters of Shelekova Bay are subject to extreme tides and powerful currents, bringing nutrients to the surface and supporting huge quantities of life. We explore the bay by Zodiac, scouting for whales, seals, Steller sea lions and tremendous populations of seabirds, including puffins and murres. Some six million pairs of least auklets and large numbers of crested auklets nest on Yamskie Island. As dusk falls, we have a chance to witness a most captivating natural phenomenon: a veritable “auklet haze,” which darkens the sky as huge flocks of birds return to roost for the night.

Day 8: Cape Alevina
We spend the day cruising along the coast of Cape Alevina, looking for brown bears that are attracted by the spawning salmon. This region offers one of our best opportunities to sight bears, and it’s well worth bundling up to spend the day on deck, learning alongside the ship’s naturalists who interpret the bears’ activity as we observe them.

Day 9: Talan Island
Tiny Talan Island is home to one of the largest seabird communities in the Northern Pacific, with colonies reaching 1.8 million birds. Puffins, auklets, and gulls are among the 12 species found here. The crisp marine air is filled with their cacophonous squawks and screes, and we enjoy a close-up immersion in the drama of their breeding and birthing. Talan Island is also home to Steller’s sea eagles, peregrine falcons and red foxes. Permission pending, we’ll have a chance to visit the Russian research center where local ornithologists are monitoring the annual bird migrations.

Day 10: Okhotsk Town
This small town, the first to be settled in the region, was chosen by Danish sea captain Vitus Bering as his headquarters for two extraordinary expeditions. Enjoy time ashore to wander through Okhotsk’s quaint streets, lined with small shops and modest clapboard houses surrounded by gardens—all seemingly frozen in the 18th century. Visit the intriguing museum and enjoy a cultural performance.

Day 11: Fedora Bay
Fedora Bay is approximately the midway point on our voyage. Here, we go ashore for nature walks into the pristine Siberian forest, keeping an eye out for brown bears and Steller’s sea eagles, dramatic in their black-and-white plumage.

Days 12 & 13: Shantar Archipelago
In true expeditionary fashion, we spend the next two days investigating the remote Shantar region—no roads reach the coastline, isolating it from civilization. The rocky islands covered with Siberian forest are raw wilderness, with sea-carved caves and cliffs, cascades, and 200 bird species. We explore by Zodiac and on walks ashore, watching for flocks of spectacled guillemots, which “sprint” across the water on crimson webbed feet when taking flight. We also expect to see plenty of charming puffins –both horned and tufted varieties – diving beneath the waves to gorge on small fish. This area also presents good opportunities to spot Shantar brown bears.

Day 14: Iony Island
This remote island in the center of the Sea of Okhotsk is a wildlife sanctuary that was previously off-limits to visitors. Join naturalists aboard Zodiacs and trace the perimeter of Iony to discover huge flocks of crested, least, whiskered, and parakeet auklets; horned and tufted puffins; northern fulmars; and massive numbers of murres. There is also a large Steller sea lion rookery, where the barks and bellows of giant males and their harems rend the air in a boisterous chorus.

Day 15: Sakhalin Island / Expedition Stop
The Caledonian Sky follows the wild coast of Sakhalin Island today, as nature directs our course. Conditions permitting, we’ll go ashore for nature walks that bird lovers will especially enjoy, as we search for Radde’s and Arctic warblers, Siberian rubythroats, and white-tailed eagles. There’s also the possibility of spotting gray whales, which have been known to frequent this area. These giant cetaceans can grow to 50 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons, offering a thrilling encounter when we sight them.

Day 16: Tyuleniy Island, Sakhalin Coast
A wildlife extravaganza is in store today, as Zodiac excursions around tiny Tyuleniy Island reveal masses of nesting seabirds and rookeries of fur seals and Steller sea lions. The island’s name—Russian for ‘seal’—bears testament to its reputation as a primary destination for migrating northern fur seals and, during the 19th century, Russian and American sealers. Seal populations were nearly decimated at the height of the hunting frenzy, but numbers have rebounded over the past century and healthy populations abound.

Day 17: Korsakov / Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
Our ship docks in the port of Korsakov where we depart overland for a visit to Sakhalin’s capital of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Here we’ll explore the local market, lined with vendors’ wares representing this multicultural town’s heritage of indigenous peoples such as Ainu, Oroki, and Nivkh, as well as Russians, Japanese, and Koreans. We also visit the regional museum and Russian Orthodox church, and enjoy a lively performance of traditional Russian Cossack music and dance.

Day 18: At Sea / Otaru, Hokkaido Island, Japan
Spend a final morning relaxing at sea. After lunch, we arrive in Otaru on the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido. The town is known for its interesting interior canal lined by historic buildings. Join a tour of this charming port city, with free time to also explore on your own. Spend a final overnight aboard the Caledonian Sky as the ship remains pierside.

Day 19: Disembark / Sapporo / Depart
Disembark after breakfast this morning and transfer to Sapporo airport for homeward flights (arriving in the U.S. the same day).

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