Natural Habitat Adventures

Exploring Alaska's Coastal Wilderness

Itinerary

Itinerary Map
  Interested in a shorter voyage? Check out Lindblad's 6-day Alaska itineraries, Alaska Escape: Juneau to Ketchikan and Alaska Escape: Sitka to Juneau!

Please Note: The itinerary below describes the Juneau to Sitka voyage. From Sitka to Juneau, the itinerary operates in reverse, with the same inclusions.

Day 1: Juneau, Alaska—Embark Ship
Your small-ship Alaska adventure begins in Juneau. Before embarkation, a visit is included to the Alaska State Museum for an introduction to the 49th state, whose name in the Aleut language means "The Great Land." The museum's permanent collection focuses on Alaska’s Native peoples and natural history. Transfer to the pier this afternoon to board the ship, with time to settle in to your cabin before dinner is served. Later this evening, enjoy a music and slideshow presentation by a local entertainer, or, if you prefer, take a few hours on your own to explore the lively port city of Juneau. Downtown Juneau is steps from the harbor and offers a wide array of restaurants, bars and boutiques, with many selling arts, crafts and food products unique to Alaska. Be sure you're back on board in plenty of time for our 11 pm departure as we set sail for the icy wilderness of Tracy Arm.

Day 2: Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness
Early this morning the ship enters Tracy Arm, a narrow fjord with waterfalls cascading from glacially carved walls that rise 3,000 feet into low-hanging clouds. Step out on deck to survey the magnificent scenery as you scout for harbor seals, porpoises, Arctic terns and Bonaparte gulls. At the head of the inlet we reach Sawyer Glacier, noted for the deep blue color of its ice. Zodiac excursions take us closer to the glacier's face, where we hear the loud cracks and booms of calving ice. Keep an eye out for mountain goats scaling the steep granite cliffs above. There may be a chance to stop at a wild beach for some kayaking or a peaceful walk through the forest, admiring tiny wildflowers and ripening berries.

Day 3: Le Conte Bay / Petersburg
Cruising toward Le Conte Bay, look for humpback whales, which frequently entertain us by breaching and spy-hopping. Weather permitting, kayak among icebergs and shards that have calved off the LeConte Glacier. Or choose an optional flightseeing trip over the glacier via floatplane or helicopter for a thrilling aerial perspective, with views into the deep crevasses. There's also a chance to hike on forest trails, accompanied by the ship's naturalist guides. Later, visit Petersburg on Mitkof Island, a town of 3,500 founded over a century ago by Norwegian fishermen. The waters here are rich in crab, shrimp and pink salmon. This evening, a local fishing family visits the ship to share stories of their life in Petersburg. The ship remains at the dock until dinnertime, then sails away as guests dine on the catch of the day in view of the forest and mountains beyond.

Day 4: Frederick Sound / Chatham Strait
These waters are prime habitat for both orcas and humpback whales, and it's not uncommon to see groups of up to 30 at a time. There's plenty of time to observe fascinating behavior—breaching, tail-slapping and feeding modes—as the captain keeps the ship positioned for the best views. Guests congregate on deck while listening to play-by-play interpretation from the ship's team of expert naturalists. You may also see sea lions hauled out on the rocks, dozing by the dozens. And keep an eye out for bald eagles atop tall Sitka spruce trees, surveying the water for fish to prey upon. Once ashore, walk along a quiet forest trail with naturalist guides, learning about the temperate rain forest ecosystem distinctive to Southeast Alaska. These still waters are excellent for kayaking, offering another option for appreciating these lush environs up close.

Day 5: Icy Strait & the Inian Islands
Icy Strait separates Chichagof Island from the Alaskan mainland. The Inian Islands lie scattered in the strait's westernmost waters, comprising an uninhabited wilderness that breaks the Pacific Ocean’s strong tides. Icy Strait’s rich waters draw abundant marine life, including orca and humpback whales, seals, otters and Dall's porpoise, plus an abundance of Steller sea lions at home in the islands. Watch whales surface as the ship's naturalists lower the hydrophone to let us listen in on their undersea communications. Cruising, hiking and kayaking offer a chance to explore shorelines rich with birdlife, including murrelets, gulls, terns and bald eagles, and forests that shelter brown bears, Sitka black-tailed deer, marten, mink and land otter.

Day 6: Glacier Bay National Park
Spend a full day cruising in Glacier Bay National Park, surveying the mosaic of inlets, coves, glaciers and ice-capped peaks that comprise this renowned wilderness. In one of Alaska's most iconic landscapes, cruise to the face of tidewater glaciers that end abruptly at water’s edge, and wait patiently to observe “calving,” when a giant slab of ice falls from the face and crashes into the sea with a thunderous boom. Wildlife abounds in Glacier Bay, and we may see harbor seals, Steller sea lions and mountain goats scaling the rock walls. There's also a good chance to spot both horned and tufted puffins. A visit to Tidal Inlet may reveal a glimpse of brown bears on the hillside or on the shoreline. Southeast Alaska is also the homeland of the Tlingit people, and a Native interpreter joins us onboard to share some local legends and insight into contemporary Tlingit culture.

Day 7: Southeast Alaska's Islands, Bays & Fjords
Nature is the ship's guide today as we sail with no specific itinerary, the captain choosing the best course as conditions dictate. We may stop at an isolated beach to look into tide pools, do some beachcombing and wander forest trails. At high summer, the forest floor is often carpeted with wildflowers. Later, walking ashore on one of area’s many islands, keep an eye out for old bear tracks worn into the soil in the open meadows. This is home turf for the massive brown bears Alaska is famous for—the world's largest coastal grizzly. It is also home to the world’s highest density of nesting bald eagles. If conditions permit, a paddling excursion offers an eye-level view of the rich marine life.

Day 8: Sitka—Disembark / Transfer to Airport / Depart
After breakfast, disembark in Sitka, Southeast Alaska’s only town that sits directly on the ocean, among a scenic scattering of small islands. In the local Tlingit language, Sitka means "the village behind the island." It has been home to indigenous cultures for thousands of years, but its Russian heritage endures, a legacy from the fur trading enterprise that dominated the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. Russian influence is on apparent in St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church, with its distinctive onion domes, in the center of town. Sitka's Native heritage is equally vivid in the grand totem poles that line the wooded trails through Sitka National Historic Park. At the Raptor Rehabilitation Center, get close-up views of species normally seen at a distance in the wild—bald eagles, hawks, falcons and owls. After lunch, your Southeast Alaska cruise concludes as you disembark in Sitka’s harbor, backdropped by the volcanic peak of Mount Edgecumbe. A transfer to the airport is included to meet departing flights.

Please Note: This itinerary should serve as a guideline only; actual stops are determined by weather, wildlife activity, and a host of other factors in order to provide the safest and best possible experience. This flexibility is what makes traveling on Lindblad's small expedition ships so much more rewarding than a large vessel with a locked-in voyage plan. Some itineraries travel in reverse.

Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate

Interested in extending your trip? Link it up with another adventure!
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