Embark in Sitka, a unique town with a strong Russian heritage. Visit St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a striking testament to Alaska's roots prior to the U.S. purchase of the territory from Russia. Then explore Sitka National Historical Park, where colorful totem poles line serene wooded trails.
National Geographic Sea Bird or Sea Lion (D)
Beachcomb, hike forest trails, explore by kayak, or cruise along Admiralty Island, where the massive brown bear is found, along with perhaps the world's highest density of nesting bald eagles. If conditions permit, explore the coastlines of some remote islands by kayak.
Spend the day exploring magnificent Glacier Bay, where enormous glaciers flow from the ice fields far above. Watch and hear glaciers calving as tons of ice crash into the sea. Venture near islets that are home to seabirds such as puffins and guillemots, and look for humpback whales and orcas. Walk ashore among towering spruce trees and meadows of wildflowers.
Look for humpback whales at Point Adolphus, a favored feeding area. Then cruise along the northern coastline of Chichagof Island and find playful sea otters. Keep an eye out for eagles, which are commonplace in the surrounding Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States.
These waters often make for great whale watching. Look for Steller sea lions hauled out on the rocky islands that dot the channels. Take a walk with naturalists along a quiet forest trail or kayak in the tiny coves in this area.
Discover the small town of Petersburg on Mitkof Island, founded more than 100 years ago by rugged Norwegian fishermen. A visit to Petersburg provides a glimpse of a true Alaskan town and an opportunity for hiking along forest trails. Later, cruise out to look for whales in the southern part of Frederick Sound, or explore LeConte Bay, a virtual sculpture garden of grounded icebergs.
Enter Tracy Arm, a spectacular 22-mile-long fjord where waterfalls cascade from towering, glacially carved walls. We maneuver among large icebergs, keeping an eye out for feeding bears on the shoreline and mountain goats on the cliffs above. Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening.
Visit the imposing Mendenhall Glacier and the Alaska State Museum, an excellent introduction to Alaska's natural history and cultures. There is time to explore Juneau on your own before we disembark the ship. In the early afternoon, transfer to the airport for the flight to Seattle.