14 Night cruise departing from Ketchikan to Juneau onboard Wilderness Explorer.
Day by Day Itinerary:
DAY 1 - Ketchikan, Alaska – Embarkation
Arriving in Ketchikan and met with a warm welcome, that’s a good start. You have time to take in a bit of the city once you check in at the hospitality area. But after boarding, grab a glass of bubbly as you push off the dock. Set sail for Misty Fjords National Monument.
DAY 2 - Misty Fjords National Monument
The beauty. The peace. The sense of place you feel. Misty Fjords National Monument represents nearly every ecosystem found in Southeast Alaska, and that alone is a lot to consider. Glacial valleys filled with seawater. Sheer 3,000-foot cliffs. Seabirds, brown and black bears, mountain goats, Sitka black-tailed deer, all find safe haven here. Kayak in Walker Cove or Rudyerd Bay and you find it’s just as easy to paddle and go, as it is to sit and float and take it all in. Or skiff to the base of a waterfall for a fjord-released shower. The affectionate nickname “The Yosemite of the North” is deserved. There are places on the planet that completely overcome you. This is one of them. And it’s an amazing kickoff to your week.
DAY 3 - Behm Canal
Wildlife abounds. Black bears, mink, eagles. In Behm Canal, it’s all remote waterways and the isolated Tongass National Forest. On Cleveland Peninsula, your expedition team leads a low-elevation hike with wide-stretching views. Good opportunities for panoramic shots of Southeast. In the water orca, porpoises, seals, and otters go about their business. Go about yours on a guided paddle along the canal. An intertidal shore walk circles a tall sea stack covered in green.
DAY 4 - Wrangell
Native culture and wildlife have gotten along just fine for centuries. Wrangell is one of the oldest towns in Alaska. It’s also the only one ever governed by four nations. The Tlingit and Haida cultures have deep roots here. And local islanders come aboard this morning with a presentation that brings their stories and legends to life. Venture into town for a view of recently carved totem poles at Kiksetti Totem Park. See how many totems you can pick out on each pole. Step inside famed Chief Shakes Tribal House. Can you feel the history in this historic community house?
DAY 5 - Wrangell Narrows / Thomas Bay
Wind into the Wrangell Narrows heading toward the fishing town of Petersburg and Thomas Bay. Abundant bright red and green navigation lights guide the way. It’s “Christmas Tree Lane,” of course. Thomas Bay is way back backcountry of Alaska's wilderness. When you come this far, you might as well go all in. Glacial landscapes marked by moraines, muskegs, and mud. In this playground, it’s all an option today. Kayak and skiff in water almost clear as glass. The mirror image of fjord walls plays on the surface. Hike through the outwash of Baird Glacier. Or keep it green on an interpretive walk through a grassy meadow into the forest with your expedition guides.
DAY 6 - Stephens Passage
Morning stretches on-deck jump start the day. Humpback whales are frequent visitors of this Southeast passage. A misty spout is a sure sign they’re in the neighborhood. Your captain navigates Stephens Passage to Port Houghton. And you’re in for a boot-sucking, paddle-smacking day of adventure with your guide team. The routes are all picked out. Make your choice and make your move. Slip off the kayak launch and take it slow, spotting sea stars and shore birds. Hard chargers take a long wild paddle to the salt chuck at the back of the inlet. Or, hike into the Tongass. It’s a landscape of hanging waterfalls and shades of green.
DAY 7 - Tracy Arm / Fords Terror
Jutting off Stephens Passage with two deep, glacially carved fjords, this designated wilderness area contains over 600,000 acres. So your explorations today are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Literally. Cruise past chunks and
chunks of floating ice (there’s far more beneath the surface than the eye can see). It’s a harbor seal’s delight lazing away the day atop a floating bergie. In classic fjord form, the end of the arm doesn’t disappoint with the blue face of a stories high glacier. If conditions are right, skiffs are the ticket to getting in close.
DAY 8 - Juneau
You have a choice in how to spend your day off the boat. Accompanied by a local expert (and plenty of snacks), the West Glacier Trail excursion takes you through dense temperate rainforest with massive views overlooking Mendenhall Glacier and the surrounding coastal mountain range. Or, opt for a more relaxed pace visiting Juneau highlights on your own. An included tramway ticket provides a ride up the Mt. Roberts Tram, where views unfold as you ascend 1,800 feet through the forest. At the top, explore the trails and Nature Center; back at the bottom, explore Alaska’s heritage at the Alaska State Museum. Both options also include a lunch voucher for a local restaurant. Complimentary laundry service is provided today.
DAY 9 - Chatham Strait
Find a perch on the bridge with your captain, or with your guides on the bow, and watch for whales and other creatures before tucking into Port Frederick or another inlet in the Tongass National Forest. Any spot’s a good one to pull over and stretch your legs. Hike, paddle, or skiff your way through this remote corner with bears on the shoreline, seals bobbing on the surface, and welcoming boughs of moss in the trees. It’s all yours to explore. Back on the boat, there's a treat in store—the Farewell Dinner and some special memories from your crew.
DAY 10 - Glacier Bay National Park
This crown jewel of America’s national parks covers 3.3 million acres (that’s a tad smaller than the state of Connecticut). Let that sink in. Most visitors see the same sliver of the park as everyone else. Not you. You’re going the furthest and exploring parts that 99% of visitors never go to. And you have two days to do it. Get started! Taylor Bay sea stacks and rocky shores make for good adventure. Or hike the outwash field of glaciers winding down the Fairweather Mountain Range. The cool breeze off the nearby snow and icefields is energizing. If you motor over to Dundas Bay, keep your eye out for bears, humpbacks, and if you’re lucky, a wolf sighting. Kayak the bay. Bushwhack into the forest. Discover Glacier Bay outback.
DAY 11 - Glacier Bay National Park
Your camera’s memory card needs plenty of room. South Marble Island is abuzz with activity. Rare sea birds, black oystercatchers, and orange-beaked tufted puffins can’t be missed. A colony of raucous sea lions adds to the hubbub. They add a distinct aroma to the air, too. Tucking into silent Tidal Inlet—the stomping grounds for bears, wolves, mountain goats, eagles—the backdrop is spectacular. At the end of the western-most arm of the bay sits Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. And possible views of glacial calving. Take it all in on deck.
DAY 12 - Icy Strait
Before you do anything, look out the window. From kelp-lined channels to hemlock and spruce forests, every inch of this far northwest corner is worth exploring. And today’s adventures promise to be as big as the water is deep! Seals and sea lions haul out on rocky outcroppings, resting before they disappear in the water to search for food. If the tides are right, head out in the skiff with one of the guides for a closer exploration of the rugged shore, or perhaps, make it all the way to George Island. Whatever you do—wilderness trekking, skiffing, or paddling—your expedition team guides the way.
DAY 13 - Frederick Sound
Humpbacks beeline it here each season to feed on krill, zooplankton, and herring. Watch for whales feasting in these abundant glacial waters. Hang out and enjoy the show. Cruise past Five Fingers Lighthouse, Alaska’s oldest light station, and The Brothers Islands, where sea lions nap on rocky nobs. Tonight, toast to a whale of a day in Alaska.
DAY 14 - Tracy Arm
Take an early peek outside. Fjord cliffs reach skyward. Floating ice. And deep u-shaped valleys. There’s no abracadabra here. Mother Nature’s magic is real. Cruise past harbor seals and their pups lounging on chunks of ice. Tracy Arm delivers with the cotton-candy blue twin Sawyer Glaciers of its furthest reaches. Tides permitting, your skiff driver knows the ropes and guides you along. It’s a mashup of towering walls, temperamental currents, and the Coastal Mountains. So many waterfalls. Mountain goats show off fancy footwork on the cliffs. Look for them.
DAY 15 - Juneau, Alaska – Disembarkation
Linger over breakfast this morning cruising into Juneau. Wish your crew and new friends goodbye.
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