Katmai National Park, Alaska
Our "grizzly ship," the M/V Natural Habitat Ursus, provides private small-group accommodations for our exclusive bear adventures on the Alaska Peninsula. Ideally designed for exploring the remote waters of coastal Katmai National Park, the Ursus (Latin nomenclature for "bear") is 73 feet long with a deep displacement hull and an exceptionally seaworthy design with a high bow and fine horseshoe stern. It carries a full complement of modern, state-of-the-art navigation and safety equipment. Inside, the ship is intimate and simply appointed, yet she provides ample space and facilities for our activities, accommodating a maximum of eight travelers in four guest cabins with upper/lower bunks. Guests share two toilets and two showers. A well-lit galley and dining space are the site for convivial conversation over gourmet meals prepared each day by our onboard chef. Fresh Alaskan seafood, including halibut, salmon and crab, highlight many of the dinners. The ship also has a small library, computer, DVD and CD player on board.
Ursus was originally built in 1984 as a crab fishing boat called the Time Bandit, which plied the storm-tossed waters of the Bering Sea and gained fame in the Discovery Channel TV series "The Deadliest Catch." In 1989 the vessel was transitioned for research use by the National Park Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and other agencies conducting scientific study and monitoring. It has since been converted and comfortably appointed for custom marine charter use. In addition to our grizzly adventures, the ship has outfitted two international filmmaking projects, the 2012 BBC/Discovery Channel documentary Great Bear Stakeout, and an NHK (Japanese public television) program on orcas hunting gray whales and humpbacks.
With the Ursus providing our accommodations offshore, we are able to visit some of the planet's most pristine wilderness in Katmai National Park without leaving an impact. A central element of this adventure is our shore excursions that take place in Zodiac rafts carried on board. We frequently make wet landings (just offshore, where your feet and ankles may get wet), but tall rubber boats are provided to keep your feet dry. Ocean tides of up to 26 feet, some of the largest tides in the world, erase most of the human tracks daily.