Seward (Anchorage, Alaska) to Vancouver
13 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 Seward (Anchorage), Alaska
It is hard to believe that a place as beautiful as Seward exists. Surrounded on all sides by Kenai Fjords National Park, Chugach National Forest, and Resurrection Bay, Seward offers all the quaint realities of a small railroad town with the bonus of jaw-dropping scenery. This little town of about 2,750 citizens was founded in 1903, when survey crews arrived at the ice-free port and began planning a railroad to the Interior. Since its inception, Seward has relied heavily on tourism and commercial fishing.
Day 2 Cape St.Elias, Kayak Island, Alaska - Icy Bay
Cape St Elias is the southwest end of Kayak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. It is separated from the mainland by a channel 4 miles wide. The island, named by Lt. Sarichef of the Russian Navy in 1826 because its outline resembles the shape of an Eskimo skin canoe, is 20 miles long and only 2 miles wide and covered in dense rainforest. The cape itself was named by Russian explorer Vitus Bering on July 20, 1741 in honour of St. Elias, whose saint's day is July 20. The lighthouse, located at the southernmost tip, is a National Historic Landmark. It was built in 1916, and has been automated since 1974. It has been, and continues to be, an indispensable navigational aid along the shipping lanes from the contiguous American states and South-eastern Alaska to Cordova, Valdez, Seward, and Anchorage.
Icy Bay, located on the south eastern edge of the Gulf of Alaska, is a relatively new geographical feature that has formed within the past 100 years. As recently as the early 1900’s, the glacier front reached all the way to the Gulf of Alaska. However, the rapid retreat of the three major glaciers in the area (the Guyot, Yahtse, and Tyndall Glaciers) has resulted in the present-day bay, which is over 30 miles long. The surrounding scenery is stunning, with Mount Elias (at over 18,000 feet) towering high on the horizon. A long, sand spit protrudes into the bay at the entrance and there is beach on either side.
Day 3 Cruise Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
Hubbard Glacier, off the coast of Yakutat, Alaska, is the largest glacier in North America, with a calving front that is more than six miles wide. One of the main sources for Hubbard Glacier originates 76 mi inland. It has been a very active glacier, experiencing two major surges in the past 30 years. This glacier was named after Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a U.S. lawyer, financier, and philanthropist. He was the first president of the National Geographic Society.
Day 4 Elfin Covea, Alaska - Cruise Point Adolphus
Elfin Cove sits snugly on the southern shore of Cross Sound, which leads in eastwards to the Inside Passage. Northwards and across the Sound from the small community lies Glacier Bay National Park and the Fairweather Mountain range. Elfin Cove is a quaint little harbor clustered with attractive timber houses built into the wooded hillsides on stilts. The population swells to about 200 during the summer months, from a rather meager 6 or so during the snowy and isolated winters. Its commercial hub consists of a Post Office, mini-Museum, a General Store, the Coho Bar and numerous sports fishing businesses. In the summer months Rufous-backed Hummingbirds visit feeders scattered around the community.
During the evening Silver Explorer will be near Point Adolphus, a well-known area for whale watching. Enjoy an aperitif while you are on the outer decks, looking for humpback whales as well as orcas, or simply enjoying the landscape.
Day 5 Sitka, Alaska
It's hard not to like Sitka, with its eclectic blend of Alaska Native, Russian, and American history and its dramatic and beautiful open-ocean setting. This is one of the best Inside Passage towns to explore on foot, with such sights as St. Michael's Cathedral, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Castle Hill, Sitka National Historical Park, and the Alaska Raptor Center topping the town's must-see list. Sitka was home to the Kiksádi clan of the Tlingit people for centuries prior to the 18th-century arrival of the Russians under the direction of territorial governor Alexander Baranof, who believed the region was ideal for the fur trade. The governor also coveted the Sitka site for its beauty, mild climate, and economic potential; in the island's massive timber forests he saw raw materials for shipbuilding. Its location offered trading routes as far west as Asia and as far south as California and Hawaii. In 1799 Baranof built St. Michael Archangel—a wooden fort and trading post 6 miles north of the present town. Strong disagreements arose shortly after the settlement. The Tlingits attacked the settlers and burned their buildings in 1802. Baranof, however, was away in Kodiak at the time. He returned in 1804 with a formidable force—including shipboard cannons—and attacked the Tlingits at their fort near Indian River, site of the present-day 105-acre Sitka National Historical Park, forcing many of them north to Chichagof Island. By 1821 the Tlingits had reached an accord with the Russians, who were happy to benefit from the tribe's hunting skills. Under Baranof and succeeding managers, the Russian-American Company and the town prospered, becoming known as the Paris of the Pacific. The community built a major shipbuilding and repair facility, sawmills, and forges, and even initiated an ice industry, shipping blocks of ice from nearby Swan Lake to the booming San Francisco market. The settlement that was the site of the 1802 conflict is now called Old Sitka. It is a state park and listed as a National Historic Landmark. The town declined after its 1867 transfer from Russia to the United States, but it became prosperous again during World War II, when it served as a base for the U.S. effort to drive the Japanese from the Aleutian Islands. Today its most important industries are fishing, government, and tourism.
Day 6 Wrangel, Alaska
A small, unassuming timber and fishing community, Wrangell sits on the northern tip of Wrangell Island, near the mouth of the fast-flowing Stikine River—North America's largest undammed river. The Stikine plays a large role in the life of many Wrangell residents, including those who grew up homesteading on the islands that pepper the area. Trips on the river with local guides are highly recommended as they provide, basically, an insider's guide to the Stikine and a very Alaskan way of life. Like much of Southeast, Wrangell has suffered in recent years from a declining resource-based economy. But locals are working to build tourism in the town. Bearfest, which started in 2010, celebrates Wrangell's proximity to Anan Creek, where you can get a close-up view of both brown and black bears. Wrangell has flown three different national flags in its time. Russia established Redoubt St. Dionysius here in 1834. Read more
Day 7 Behm Canal, Alaska - Rudyerd Bay (Misty Fjords)
Separating Revillagigedo Island from the Alaskan mainland, the roughly 100 miles long Behm Canal is located within the Tongass National Forest. Already charted in 1793 by George Vancouver, the Behm Canal is the western border of Misty Fjords National Monument. Tongass National Forest extends over 16.9 million acres and is the largest wilderness area in Alaska’s forests and the second largest forest in the nation. It has been described as an almost untouched coastal ecosystem with outstanding geological features, and Misty Fiords National Monument is sometimes called “The Yosemite of the North”.
Rudyerd Bay is one of the highlights of the Misty Fiords, 40 miles east of Ketchikan, along the Inside Passage. This fjord cuts through steep-sided mountainous terrain and extends far into the mainland. The scenery is stunning, with dramatic thousand-foot waterfalls plunging down rainforest covered cliffs to the water below.
Day 8 Metlakatla, Alaska
Since the late 19th century, Metlakatla has been the major settlement of the Metlakatla Indian Community of the federally recognized Annette Islands Reserve, the only remaining reservation in Alaska. It is located on Annette Island, and in 2010 had 1,405 residents. Membership in the community is primarily by lineage and is comprised primarily of Tsimshian people. Metlakatla comes from a Tsimshian word meaning "Salt Water Passage." In 1886, William Duncan, an English tannery employee and lay member of the Church Missionary Society, along with a devoted group of Tsimshian followers, decided to leave his home village in British Colombia. Duncan went to Washington, D.C., asked the U.S. government to give his group land in Alaska. The U.S. gave them Annette Island after a Tsimshian search committee in seagoing canoes discovered its calm bay, accessible beaches and abundant fish. The group arrived in 1887 and built a settlement laid out in a grid pattern like a European town. They named the town New Metlakatla, after the town they had left behind, but later dropped the "New."
Day 9 Prince Rupert (British Columbia), Canada
Just 40 mi (66 km) south of the Alaskan border, Prince Rupert is the largest community on British Columbia's north coast. Set on Kaien Island at the mouth of the Skeena River and surrounded by deep green fjords and coastal rain forest, Prince Rupert is rich in the culture of the Tsimshian, people who have been in the area for thousands of years. As the western terminus of Canada's second transcontinental railroad and blessed with a deep natural harbor, Prince Rupert was, at the time of its incorporation in 1910, poised to rival Vancouver as a center for trans-Pacific trade. This didn't happen, partly because the main visionary behind the scheme, Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad president Charles Hays, went down with the Titanic on his way back from a financing trip to England. Prince Rupert turned instead to fishing and forestry. A port of call for both BC and Alaska ferries, but relatively new to cruise ships, this community of 15,000 retains a laid-back, small-town air.
Day 10 Klemtu (British Columbia), Canada
Day 11 Alert Bay (British Columbia) - Seymour Narrows (British Columbia), Canada
Alert Bay is a small village on Cormorant Island, with approximately 1,300 residents. More than half are First Nations people. The settlement was named in 1860 in honour of the Royal Navy ship HMS Alert, which conducted survey operations in the area. The traditional Kwakwaka’wakw people of Alert Bay have endured a difficult history of devastating foreign diseases and failed government policies of assimilation. Today there is a revival of their traditions. One of the most well-known features in Alert Bay is the 173 foot wooden carved totem pole, claimed by some to be the tallest totem pole in the world.
Sailing through the Seymour Narrows is an exciting adventure. This five kilometer long passage is notorious for strong, turbulent tidal currents that can reach speeds of 15 knots and have dangerous conditions such as whirlpools and overfalls. For most of its length, the channel is only about 750 m wide. Captain George Vancouver, an English officer of the Royal Navy who explored this region of the northwestern North America Pacific Coast during his 1791–95 expedition, described the Seymour Narrows as "one of the vilest stretches of water in the world."
Day 12 Nanaimo (British Columbia), Canada
Nanaimo is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, about 70.2 miles (113 kilometres) northwest of Victoria and 34.1 miles (55 kilometres) west of Vancouver. The 'Harbour City' of Nanaimo is separated by the Strait of Georgia, and linked to Vancouver via the Horseshoe Bay BC Ferries terminal in West Vancouver. As the site of the main ferry terminal, Nanaimo is the gateway to many other destinations both on the northern part of the island, such as Tofino, Comox Valley, Parksville, Campbell River, Port Alberni, and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. Offshore islands accessible via Nanaimo include Newcastle Island, Protection Island, Gabriola Island, Valdes Island, and many other Gulf Islands. Nanaimo is also the headquarters of the Regional District of Nanaimo.
Day 13 Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is a delicious juxtaposition of urban sophistication and on-your-doorstep wilderness adventure. The mountains and seascape make the city an outdoor playground for hiking, skiing, kayaking, cycling, and sailing—and so much more—while the cuisine and arts scenes are equally diverse, reflecting the makeup of Vancouver's ethnic (predominantly Asian) mosaic. Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the world's most livable cities, and it's easy for visitors to see why. It's beautiful, it's outdoorsy, and there's a laidback West Coast vibe. On the one hand, there's easy access to a variety of outdoor activities, a fabulous variety of beaches, and amazing parks. At the same time, the city has a multicultural vitality and cosmopolitan flair. The attraction is as much in the range of food choices—the fresh seafood and local produce are some of North America's best—as it is in the museums, shopping, and nightlife. Vancouver's landscaping also adds to the city's walking appeal. In spring, flowerbeds spill over with tulips and daffodils while sea breezes scatter scented cherry blossoms throughout Downtown; in summer office workers take to the beaches, parks, and urban courtyards for picnic lunches and laptop meetings. More than 8 million visitors each year come to Vancouver, Canada's third-largest metropolitan area. Because of its peninsula location, traffic flow is a contentious issue. Thankfully, Vancouver is wonderfully walkable, especially in the downtown core. The North Shore is a scoot across the harbor, and the rapid-transit system to Richmond and the airport means that staying in the more affordable ’burbs doesn't have to be synonymous with sacrificing convenience. The mild climate, exquisite natural scenery, and relaxed outdoor lifestyle keep attracting residents, and the number of visitors is increasing for the same reasons. People often get their first glimpse of Vancouver when catching an Alaskan cruise, and many return at some point to spend more time here.
All This Included
Shaped by the staggering force of massive glaciers millions of years ago, Alaska’s Inside Passage boasts wildlife-filled fjords and lush island scenery — prime habitat for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises and whales. Join us and the ranks of the truly well-travelled and visit historic fishing villages, legendary Misty Fiord and meet, among others, the Tsimshian - the indigenous people of Metlakatla.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Cloud
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