Alaska and Canada - Aleutian Islands, Bears and Inside Passage
18 days with Hurtigruten Rating:
DAY 1 Start of the Expedition
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is often rated at the top of lists for liveability and quality of life. The city grew from a humble tavern by a river, expanding upon the arrival of the railroad in 1884. Despite its large size today, this city retains the laid-back charm typical of Canada. Take your time to explore some of this young and energetic city’s cultural institutions. Enjoy an overnight here.
DAY 2 Gold Rush and Serum Run
Location: Nome, Alaska
Early in the morning, we will transfer you after breakfast to Vancouver airport for your flight to Alaska. After arrival in Nome, we will transfer you for embarkation to the ship, MS Roald Amundsen.
Nome is a place of fascinating history. In 1898, three lucky Swedish men discovered gold in the nearby Anvil Creek, and within a year, 10,000 men had arrived desperate to repeat the feat. In the winter of 1925, Nome suffered an outbreak of diphtheria while cut off from the rest of the world by snow and sea ice. The only way to get the serum from Anchorage, 994 miles away, was by a relay of dog sleds.
DAY 3 South through the Bering Sea
Location: At sea
Enjoy a relaxing first day on board! MS Roald Amundsen sets course to the south through the Bering Sea, named for the Danish navigator Vitus Bering who in 1728 became the first to explore this route to the Arctic Ocean. This sea area is biologically rich – more than half of the U.S. seafood catch comes from this sea – so take time on deck to look out for the fin and humpback whales which also benefit from nature’s bounty. Onboard, the Expedition Team will start the lecture program covering history and the great explorers, marine biology, wildlife, oceanography and climate change.
DAY 4 Deserted Island
Location: St. Matthew Island
As we step ashore on the black sand and gravel beaches of St. Matthew Island, you and your fellow explorers from MS Roald Amundsen will be the only humans on the isle.
St. Matthew has enjoyed status as a nature reserve since 1909, and is today home to countless nesting seabirds. The only mammals currently found on the island are the native St. Matthew island vole and the arctic fox.
DAY 5 The Galapagos of the North?
Location: St. Paul
A bird lovers’ paradise! One cannot help but be enchanted by the horned and tufted puffins found here. The rare red-legged kittiwake makes use of the cliffs as a breeding site. During the fall, migratory species can also be seen around the green, rolling hills or on the black basalt beaches.
Around 400 people live on St Paul, all descended from Aleut slaves forcibly moved to the island by Russian fur traders in 1780’s. Today, the fur seal population is thriving, around half the world’s northern fur seal population live in the waters around the island.
DAY 6 Lectures and Relaxing
Location: At sea
MS Roald Amundsen continues south through the Bering Sea, approaching the Aleutian Islands and our next stop of Dutch Harbor. The Expedition Team will prepare you for our upcoming destinations and continue their lecture series.
DAY 7 The Toughest Job in the World
Location: Dutch Harbor
Also known as "Unalaska", Dutch Harbor sits in the middle of the Aleutian Islands chain. As we sail towards the harbor, you will see the highest point on the island, Mount Makushin, a steaming volcano almost 6,000 feet high.
One unexpected product of the rich seas around Dutch Harbor is a well-known television program, "Deadliest Catch", which features the crews from the area as they venture into the often-dangerous world of commercial fishing. We are looking forward to calm conditions for our visit.
Take a walk around the town, maybe call in at the Museum of the Aleutians to discover more about the history of this fascinating region where Native Americans met Russian fur traders. There is even a Russian Orthodox Church.
Visit the World War Two Center, where US code breakers intercepted messages warning of a Japanese attack but were unable to prevent the Battle of Dutch Harbor in June 1942. If you would like to escape the town, why not hike up Ballyhoo Mountain, 1,630 feet high, for a view over the green island and steep sea cliffs.
DAY 8 25 Million-year-old Forest
Location: Unga Village
Unga is the largest of the dozen or so Shumagin Islands, 603 miles southwest of Anchorage. Today, the constant ocean winds prevent much by way of tree growth; but that was not the case 25 million years ago and incredibly, tree stumps and logs from that time survive as a petrified forest. The woody remains are found along the beaches at low tide, and stumps range in diameter up to about 4 - 8 feet across.
Unga Village, nearby, is an eerie ghost town. Settled by Aleuts in 1833, the sparse mining and subsistence fishing were not enough to support the community which moved to the larger Sand Point settlement in 1969. Today, a collection of wooden buildings, including a church with the roof and floor are all that remain, surrounded by a carpet of pink louseworts.
DAY 9 Ocean Beauty
Location: At sea
Enjoy a day at sea as we sail east along the south side of the Alaskan Peninsula. Our Expedition Team will present the plans for the upcoming days.
DAY 10 Seeking out Brown Bears
Location: Geographic Harbor
Katmai National Park is located where the Alaskan Peninsula joins the continent, and Geographic Harbor, named for the National Geographic Society who funded five expeditions here in the early 1900’s, lies within the park.
The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes gives a clue to the dramatic volcanic nature of the landscape, and with mountains rising to almost 3,000 feet there is snow too. Here we hope to find brown bears as they forage along the shore for clams, and lunch on berries or fish in the clear running waters of the mountain streams.
DAY 11 Close to Wildlife
Kodiak is a bustling fishing harbor with around 6,000 residents. It has two float plane harbors, testament to the opportunities to explore the expansive surrounding countryside from the air for another chance to find brown bears.
In the town, you can shop at souvenir and local handicraft and artwork stores. The Baranov Museum presents artifacts from the area’s Russian past, as does the stunning Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, with exhibitions on the local flora and fauna, includes a complete 36-foot skeleton of a male gray whale.
Take a walk to Fort Abercrombie State Historic Park where you can combine history with wildlife spotting. The historic ruins of a World War II coastal defense installation are coupled with the steep surf-pounded cliffs, deep spruce forests and meadows laden with wildflowers. Stop for a while on the cliff edge of Miller Point, and watch the sea for the chance to see fin or humpback whales.
You can also join one of our excursion options for the day, taking you to scout for bears in this scenic blend of tundra, deep fjords and mountains.
DAY 12 At Sea in the Gulf of Alaska
Location: At sea
A day at sea means you can join the lectures by the Expedition Team, spend time on deck or in the Panorama Lounge with fellow travelers as we sail towards Alaska’s Panhandle.
DAY 13 Magnificent Iceberg Cruising
Location: Cruising the Hubbard Glacier
The ice you see today as we cruise the Hubbard Glacier fell as snow around 400-500 years ago and more than 62 miles inland. A glacier is a flowing river of ice, albeit a slow-flowing river. In the last few decades, the Hubbard Glacier has surged forward and in 1986 completely blocked the fjord until a build-up of water burst through the ice. Bergs come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so have your camera ready!
This waterway was named Disenchantment Fjord by Spanish naval officer Alessandro Malaspina in 1792, when he was disappointed to discover it was not the Northwest Passage, as he had hoped. We trust that you will be enchanted, maybe even spellbound, by the beautiful ice scenery here.
DAY 14 Fish Filleting or Zip Lining?
Location: Icy Strait Point
Icy Strait Point is located on Chichagof Island and boasts attractions owned and managed by local Alaskan natives with aboriginal ties to the area. Expect to be greeted by local guides in traditional costumes. Experience Alaska's Wildest Kitchen, which shows visitors the importance of salmon and subsistence fishing in the Tlingit culture.
There is even a culinary instruction space where local residents demonstrate how to fillet fish such as halibut and salmon. We can visit a 1930's Hoonah Packing Company facility, now converted into a museum. If you feel this is all a little sedate, stimulate your adrenaline by tackling one of North America’s longest zip lines: 1,620 metres long!
DAY 15 History and Natural Beauty
Located on Baranof Island, Sitka faces the open waters of the Gulf of Alaska to the west and striking scenery with mountains and forest to the east. The majestic Mount Edgecumbe with its perfect volcanic cone looms above the horizon across the Sitka Sound.
Sitka is a town of about 9,000 people, brimming with history, natural wonders and fascinating sites for you to discover. Sitka National Historic park with tall trees and totems carved out of red cedar are testimonials of the Tlingit culture and Sitka’s first inhabitants. St. Michaels Cathedral is a picturesque remnant of the town’s Russian heritage. You may explore the town at your own pace or join one of the optional excursions.
DAY 16 Adventures Abound
Our southernmost Alaskan port call is Ketchikan, located on the southwest corner of Revillagigedo Island. The town of just over 8,000 prides itself as the salmon capital of the world, and is known for both its commercial salmon fishing and sport fishing.
Ketchikan offers plenty of natural and cultural attractions. Enjoy a stroll around the town and visit some of the delightful shops, cafes and galleries. Explore the town’s indigenous heritage and visit the world’s largest collection of totem poles. Discover Ketchikan at your own pace or join one of the many excursions on offer here, taking you on fishing tours, scenic flights over the Misty Fjords or hiking through or zip lining above Alaskan rainforest.
DAY 17 Relax at Sea
Location: At sea
Our last day on board is a chance to chat with new friends, read, or just relax and watch the world sail by.
DAY 18 Time to say Farewell
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Sailing into Canada’s third-largest city and busiest seaport may come as a bit of a shock after so many days exploring the wilderness and enjoying small settlements. But this green city's foliage will be beginning to show their wonderful autumn colors, and local beaches are plentiful and close at hand. Our expedition ends where we started, in the beautiful city of Vancouver.
All This Included
This exciting voyage begins in polar waters, sailing among glaciers, wildlife and tundra, and progresses towards warmer ports with fascinating cultures. Our cutting-edge explorer ship weaves southbound through islands and fjords, seeking out horned puffins, brown bears, hardy indigenous cultures, fascinating fossil forests and volcanoes.
Cruising: Category I cabin onboard MS Roald Amundsen
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.