Exploring the Wild Realm of Alaska aboard the Silver Discoverer

Overview

On this epic cruise, you'll visit remote Bering Sea and Pribilof Island communities, including a Chukchi village on Kodiak Island, and search for a variety of wildlife along the way. Also enjoy onboard amenities aboard the Silver Discoverer as you make your way around the coast of Alaska and the northeast peninsula of Russia.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Day 1, Jul 6, 2017
Arrive / Anchorage, Alaska

Independent arrival in Anchorage and check-in at hotel. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner and briefing.

Day 2, Jul 7, 2017
Anchorage / Nome / Embark Silver Discoverer

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Nome. With the discovery of gold in 1898, this boomtown’s population swelled to nearly 20,000 miners, furiously panning along 15 miles of beaches that fringe Norton Sound. Today’s town of 5,000 offers a peaceful contrast in the lively legacy reflected in the colorful local saloons and museum displays. Embark the Silver Discoverer late this afternoon and set sail in the evening.

Day 3, Jul 8, 2017
King Island / Arctic Circle

In true expedition style, you'll board Zodiacs and explore the craggy ledges of King Island where you can view thousands of least and crested auklets as they make their way from nests to the sea. You'll also take the opportunity to cross the Arctic Circle at 66°33’N right on the International Date Line—a feat few adventurers can claim.

Day 4, Jul 9, 2017
Day Lost Crossing International Date Line

Day 5, Jul 10, 2017
Provideniya, Russia

This morning spend time on deck watching for marine life that thrives in these nutrient rich waters as well as seabirds such as short-tailed shearwaters, northern fulmars, Laysan albatross, and fork-tailed storm petrels. When the weather is clear, the views across the Bering Strait reach to Russia and Alaska. Alternatively enjoy lectures from our staff as they introduce you to the many historic and natural facets of this fascinating region.

Go ashore in Provideniya, located at the southern limit of the Arctic ice pack, and the commercial port of this sparsely populated region. During your time here you may tour the regional museum and sail by Plover Bay, the Russian landing site of the Harriman Expedition. When you return to US waters this evening, you gain a day by crossing the International Date Line.

Day 5, Jul 10, 2017
Savoonga, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska

A Siberian Yupik community hosts your visit to St. Lawrence. The hardy locals living on this windswept pebbly spit subsist on the bounty of the sea. As you walk through the village, you'll see walrus hides stretched on drying racks, later to be fashioned into skin boats, or umiaks. During a performance of traditional dances, note that the accompanying drums are made of stretched walrus stomach skin. Birders enjoy a brisk hike to seek the red-necked phalarope, long-tailed duck, yellow and white wagtail, and, possibly, the rare emperor goose.

Day 6, Jul 11, 2017
Hall and St. Matthew Islands

Harriman Expedition participant Louis Fuertes collected bird specimens at Hall Island, which he found to be an ornithologist’s paradise. Walrus have occasionally been spotted here, and we keep a lookout during Zodiac excursions, passing by arches, waterfalls, and sea stacks packed with birds.

Fascinating geological formations trademark the deserted island of St. Matthew, a result of cooling igneous volcanic rock. Countless numbers of thick-billed murres, black- legged kittiwakes, fulmars, and puffins call the cliffs and columns their seasonal home. Enjoy a walk through meadows of blooming pink and yellow louseworts and blue Jacob’s ladder. You may spot the rare McKay’s bunting, which breeds here; Arctic foxes scurrying along the hillsides; and endemic St. Matthew singing voles scampering among the rocks.

Day 7, Jul 12, 2017
St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

Due south in the Bering Sea lies the tiny archipelago comprising the five Pribilof Islands. They were discovered in 1786 by the Russian explorer Gerassim Pribilof who successfully located what he was hoping to find: fur seals by the thousands, which the Russians later harvested nearly to extinction. Today, the northern fur seal is protected and cannot be hunted commercially. The Pribilof breeding population now numbers more than 700,000. Bird colonies abound, with some 225 species recorded in the islands.

St. Paul is home to 800 Aleuts, the largest such community in the world. Enjoy a stroll through town, then walk among a profusion of tundra wildflowers, watching for Arctic foxes often spotted here. Zodiac excursions and walks to the edge of the cliffs reveal birds by the thousands—horned and tufted puffins; red-legged kittiwakes; red-faced cormorants; and crested, least, and parakeet auklets.

Day 8, Jul 13, 2017
St. George Island

Explore the small town of St. George whose residents include about 150 people of Aleut and Russian descent. A picturesque Russian Orthodox church commands a vista of the Bering Sea, and a cliff-top blind provides a remarkable view of a fur seal rookery. More parakeet auklets breed on St. George than anywhere else, and the nearly quarter million nesting red-legged kittiwakes make up 98 percent of the world’s population.

Day 9, Jul 14, 2017
Dutch Harbor, Unalaska Island / Baby Islands

Dutch Harbor was originally used by the North American Commercial Company to process fur seal pelts. Today, it is the busiest fishing and processing port in Alaska. Deck hands on purse seiners mend their nets, factory trawlers offload tons of king crab and pollock. Stroll among WWII relics of the US Army, visit the Museum of the Aleutians and the WWII Historic Center, and view the oldest onion-domed Russian church in Alaska.

In the afternoon sail among the Fox Islands group of the Aleutians, watching for minke whales, the smallest baleen whale in the northern Pacific. The five tiny, volcanic Baby Islands, our day’s final destination, teem with puffins and whiskered auklets.

Day 10, Jul 15, 2017
Otter Cover, Unimak Island / High Island

After breakfast, board Zodiacs and head for the largest Aleutian island, Unimak, which is ringed by sandy beaches, carpeted in flowering tundra, and crowned by the Shishaldin Volcano. This is the only island in the Aleutians with a population of brown bears. Enjoy one of several walks offered today, from beach explorations to a tundra hill walk with stupendous views. As you cruise the coast of High Island this afternoon, watch for the thousands of horned and tufted puffins along its cliffs.

Day 11, Jul 16, 2017
Unga Island, Shumagin Islands

Anchor at Unga Island today; its multiple bays offer excellent Zodiac opportunities to spot sea otters and birds, including peregrine falcons. Ashore, enjoy botanizing amid fields of wildflowers and spongy tundra. Scattered pieces of multicolored petrified wood are remnants of an ancient meta-sequoia forest, evidence that the region once enjoyed a warmer climate. In the evening search for whales in these waters famed for seasonal migrations as you head toward the Semidi Islands.

Day 12, Jul 17, 2017
Semidi Islands

Sail the length of the Alaska Peninsula today, a stunning, nearly-uninhabited wilderness, stopping to investigate islands and coves. The Semidi Islands are home to two and a-half million birds. Make a Zodiac landing to walk on a small, sandy beach covered in driftwood sea-carved into intriguing silvery shapes. Also by Zodiac, trace the shores of Aghiyuk Island, home to huge colonies of seabirds: northern fulmars, common murres, and black-legged kittiwakes.

Day 13, Jul 18, 2017
Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park and Preserve

Nearly hidden at the far reaches of Amalik Bay, Geographic Harbor is surrounded by magnificent volcanic scenery (access through the narrow entrance of the harbor is tidal dependent). Cruise the area by Zodiac, watching for brown bears that dig for clams along the beaches at low tide.

Day 14, Jul 19, 2017
Kodiak, Kodiak Island

Dock at the town of Kodiak, a bustling port settled by Russian fur traders in 1784. By 1792, Alexander Baranof established the town as the first capital of Russia’s North American colonies. We visit the 1794 Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox church, with its prominent blue onion domes, and Erskine House, a National Historic Landmark built in 1809 and now housing the Kodiak Baranof Museum. Exhibits in the Alutiiq Museum detail the history and culture of these native people who lived here millennia before the Europeans arrived.

Cruise toward Seward this afternoon. As you pass islands with steep cliffsides, watch for nesting puffins and cormorants and scan the waters for acrobatic humpback whales and pods of hunting orca, as well as fin and sei whales.

Day 15, Jul 20, 2017
Seward / Disembark / Anchorage / Depart

Disembark the Silver Discoverer in Seward and board motorcoaches bound for Anchorage and the airport where you connect with independent homeward flights.

Highlights

Highlights

Photograph a variety of wildlife including several species of whales, northern fur seals, otters, Arctic foxes, and brown bears digging for clams in Geographic Harbor
View Alaska’s iconic landscapes—mountains, fjords, waterfalls, forests, and tundra—during numerous Zodiac excursions
Search for a variety of seabirds, including horned and tufted puffins, common murres, parakeet auklets, and red-legged kittiwakes
Attend a fascinating cultural performance in Provideniya, Russia

Details

Length: 15 days
Cost From: $14,980  
Arrive: Anchorage, Alaska
Depart: Anchorage, Alaska
Lodging: 13 nights aboard 120-guest vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

14-day cruise, Zodiac excursions

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