Alaska, British Columbia & the San Juan Islands
- Kayak, hike and take your best photos ever!
- Witness the natural behavior of orca and humpback whales.
- Explore Alaska’s Inside Passage and take in beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife.
At a glance
Duration: 12 Days/11 Nights
Coverage: Seattle to Juneau; Reverse
Season: April-May, August-September
Activities: Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Zodiacs
Book this Trip › or call us toll-free 1-888-815-5428
A maze of fjords, rivers and glaciers, this mountainous coastline hosts some of the most spectacular scenery in North America. See iconic Alaska wildlife: whales, bears, eagles and sea lions. With one naturalist for every ten guests aboard our ships, gain a rich understanding of the wildlife, while kayaking and hiking in remote wilderness and cruising in Zodiacs for an eye-level view of sculpted icebergs.
Camera enthusiast or not, you’ll delight in cruises aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird & Sea Lion. Various experts sail, sharing their knowledge not only of photography but also of the natural world will be a tremendous asset, and give you direct access to incredibly personable and friendly experts.
The informal, small ship atmosphere means you will bond with the naturalists. They dine with you, join you for drinks in the lounge, and put on engaging, interesting presentations, whether making plaster prints of animal tracks or using the video microscope to show you a microscopic view of barnacles. The staff has cultivated valuable friendships over the years, allowing you to partake in customs and cultures few outsiders ever see.
Join this expedition, and get a true, in-depth understanding of magnificent wilderness most simply look right past.
Travel with and learn from these National Geographic photographers: Rich Reid on April 30 or August 31, Flip Nicklin on May 1 or September 1.
My favorite moment was seeing a group of humpback whales just hanging by the side of the ship one morning. I was moved to tears at the beauty of it, and I know that memory will stay with me forever.
- Day 1 — Sitka, Alaska/Embark
In the native Tlingit language, Sitka means the village behind the island, and it has been home to various cultures for thousands of years. Sitka has a strong Russian heritage, which is readily apparent as you visit St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church with its onion domes right in the middle of town. Gaze up at the grand totem poles throughout Sitka National Historic Park. At the Raptor Rehabilitation Center, we have views of species normally seen in the wild — bald eagles, hawks, falcons and owls. Sitka’s oceanfront setting is framed by the volcanic peak of Mount Edgecumbe and a string of small islands. The crystalline waters of Sitka Bay abound with sea stars and translucent moon jellyfish. (D)
- Day 2 — Southeast Alaska's Islands, Bays and Fjords
Today is a day with the luxury of no specific plan. There are many options for landings on islands such as Baranof and Chichagof, where bald eagles nest and brown bears make themselves at home. If you’re a beachcomber, the shoreline is rich with treasures. The forest trails are dense and beautiful, whether you choose the long walk option or a short stroll, accompanied by one of our Naturalists familiar with the local terrain. Hemlock and spruce abound in the old-growth forest. When kayaking, we always offer choices. If you’re looking for exercise and excitement, choose a more strenuous course. If you want scenery and relaxation, you’ll have the option to paddle slowly — exploring, poking into little inlets and relishing the quiet and up-close, personal view. (B,L,D)
- Day 3 — Glacier Bay National Park
We spend the entire day amidst the coves, fjords, tidewater glaciers, freshwater lakes and majestic mountains of Glacier Bay National Park. You’ll see glaciers that end abruptly at the water’s edge and observe them “calving” — tons of ice crashing into the sea — accompanied by an exhilaratingly thunderous sound. Mountain goats scaling the peaks as well as harbor seals and Steller sea lions are some of the creatures we may observe. You may have the opportunity to see not only one, but two kinds of puffins: the tufted and the horned puffin. A visit to Tidal Inlet may bring the sight of brown bears lumbering up the hillside. If the timing is right, a bear and her cub may be playing in the water. We’ll watch their interactions, knowing the cub will be on its own next year. Plus, a native Tlingit interpreter joins us to share the lore and legend of the area. (B,L,D)
- Day 4 — Juneau, Alaska
Today we’ll visit Juneau, Alaska's state capital. Here we'll explore the Alaska State Museum, viewing its fascinating permanent collection with an emphasis on Alaska's native peoples and natural history. We’ll also visit Mendenhall Glacier and observe the stunning, ice-carved valley up close. (B,L,D)
- Day 5 — Tracy Arm-Ford’s Terror Wilderness
Voyage into Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm, both spectacular fjords, with waterfalls cascading from glacially carved walls. See the soaring Dawes or South Sawyer Glacier up close and take a Zodiac cruise for an unbeatable view of sculpted icebergs. Keep an eye out for harbor seals and porpoises, Arctic terns and Bonaparte gulls. (B,L,D)
- Day 6 — Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait
Join naturalists on deck to search for orca whales, humpback whales, and Steller sea lions. Go ashore for a walk along a quiet forest trail and visit the fishing village of Petersburg, known as “Alaska’s Little Norway”. (B,L,D)
- Day 7 — Misty Fiords
Misty Fiords National Monument, often referred to as "Yosemite of the sea" for its sheer majesty, is 2.3 million acres of pristine wilderness that will leave you with exquisite memories of your stay in Alaska. Head out on a personal kayak reconnaissance or take a Zodiac cruise beneath glacier-carved cliffs with saw-tooth tops. Float past sheer cliffs and icy waterfalls, easily navigating in and out of areas the “big white boats” that ply Alaska’s waters can't get near. (B,L,D)
- Day 8-9 — Inside Passage of British Columbia
You'll feel like a true explorer as we continue southward looking for whales, dolphins, bears, deer and other wildlife. This is an area where vast sections of untouched coastal rain forest still exist — and where an expedition ship proves to be the perfect vessel. Without a specific plan, open to spontaneity and adventure, we’ll freely rove within the near-limitless expanse of pristine wildness — to explore any intriguing bay or inlet we happen upon, or reverse course to follow a sighted whale pod. Our small ship gives us this freedom. Our onboard kayaks and Zodiacs can be lowered swiftly to bring it all closer. Wherever we choose to stop and explore, we’re certain to be the only human life, accompanied by spectacular birds and animals. In such a populated and busy world, these opportunities are tonic for the mind, body and soul. (B,L,D)
- Day 10 — Johnstone Strait and Alert Bay
Johnstone Strait is one of the foremost viewing areas for orca whales in the entire Northern Hemisphere and since nineteen whale pods are known to spend part of the year here, there is a chance of exciting whale watching.
We arrive in Queen Charlotte Sound on course for Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. Once the ship is secured, we make our way to the U'Mista Cultural Center, home to a stunning collection of potlatch masks created by the Kwakwaka'wakw peoples. At the Center, anyone related to any member of this tribe is able to trace their ancestry. We then walk or ride to the Big House, just a short distance away where the Tsasala Cultural Group puts on a dance and the performers explain the story of the dance movements. (B,L,D)
- Day 11 — Gulf Islands, Washington
Search for orca whales, kayak around forested islands and explore the town of Nanaimo. (B,L,D)
- Day 12 — Seattle, Washington/Disembark Ship
Disembark the ship in the heart of Seattle, with the Olympic Mountains, majestic Mount Rainier and the Seattle skyline as the backdrop. (B)
Dates & Rates
|National Geographic Sea Bird / Sea Lion||Cabin Categories|
|2013||1||2||3||Solo 1||Solo 2|
Included in Cruise Fare
- All accommodations aboard ships or in hotels per itinerary or similar
- All meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship, meals on land as indicated
- Air transportation where indicated as included
- Shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees, special access permits
- Transfers to and from group flights
- Use of snorkeling equipment and wet suits, use of kayaks (where available)
- Gratuities (except to Egyptologists and ship’s crew)
- Taxes and service charges
- Services of a ship physician on most voyages, and services of our expedition staff
Not Included in Cruise Fare
- Air transportation (except where shown as included)
- Extensions, passport, visa, immigration fees
- Scuba diving (where available)
- Meals not indicated
- Baggage/accident/travel protection plan
- Items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, e-mail, and laundry
- Gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion
National Geographic Sea Bird & Sea Lion
Our twin expedition ships, National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion, can reach places inaccessible to larger ships due to their small size, yet each comfortably accommodates 62 guests in 31 outside cabins. The feeling, we’re told, is often compared to that of a large private yacht, with everyone integral to the adventure. Accessibility means freedom. Our captains have decades of sailing experience in the regions we explore. They know when and where to navigate so that you feel the places we visit are all ours. View ship details...
Denali National Park Extension
Denali National Park is one of North America's natural treasures, crowned by Mt. McKinley, the highest peak on the continent at 20,320 feet. By staying at North Face Lodge, the most exclusive property in Denali National Park, we are able to travel deep within the park and remain there. And with space for only eighteen guests on this extension, you know you'll always be part of a very intimate experience.
Winding through the remote Alaska Range, deep into the heart of the park, the "Park Road" offers opportunities to see Denali's famed wildlife: grizzlies, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, wolves, eagles, and weather permitting, views of magnificent Mt. McKinley. Other highlights include a visit to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum and a ride on the scenic Alaska Railroad.
- Day 1 — Fairbanks, Alaska
Arrive in Fairbanks and transfer to your hotel. This evening meet your leader and traveling companions at a welcome dinner. (D)
- Day 2 — Fairbanks / Denali National Pk / North Face Lodge
In the morning visit the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum featuring collections that represent over 11,000 years of cultural traditions in the north. In the late morning we depart for Denali National Park and North Face Lodge. There we are met by the Naturalist guides of the North Face Lodge, who lead us on a six-hour, 89-mile journey into the heart of the park on the restricted access Denali Park Road, offering excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing along the way. (B,L,D)
- Day 3-5 — Denali National Park / North Face Lodge
North Face Lodge lies in the heart of the Park, beneath the shadow of Mt. McKinley. It provides accommodations in well-appointed rooms with private bath. Delicious meals and fresh baked goods are featured in the dining room. Daily activities have a strong natural history focus including wildlife observation and hikes led by staff naturalists. Canoeing, fishing and biking are also available. Nightly programs focus on various aspects of Denali's natural and cultural history, including birds, mammals, wildflowers, tundra ecology, geology, mountaineering, land use and natural resource issues. (B,L,D)
- Day 6 — Denali National Park / Anchorage
This morning we enjoy a wildlife drive back out the park entrance, where we board the Alaska Railroad for the trip to Anchorage, with dinner en route in the Dining Car. Overnight at the Hotel Captain Cook. (B,L,D)
- Day 7 — Anchorage / Sitka or Juneau / Home
This morning fly to either Sitka or Juneau to begin your Alaska voyage. Or if your extension is taken after your voyage, transfer to the airport for connecting flights home. (B)