Experience the splendor of Glacier Bay National Park on board a historic small vessel (either the 8-guest Westward or 12-guest Catalyst). It's an intimate way to savor the wildlife spectacles and soaring landscapes of this famed national park — far from the big ships. You'll hike in remote coves and tiny inlets, look for humpback whales, see grizzly and black bear foraging along the wild beaches, and enjoy the expertise of your naturalist guide each day as you kayak and explore. At day's end, in an anchorage far from the outside world, enjoy a gourmet meal prepared by the on-board chef and listen for the breaths of passing humpback whales.
Arrive: Juneau, Alaska
Depart: Juneau, Alaska
Note: This trip is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as an agent in booking your reservation with the operator. Please download the Rate Sheet in the Dates & Pricing section to see the full pricing details and contact our Cruise Collection Specialists to check availability.
(Juneau to Juneau 8-Day Itinerary) Depart from Juneau's marina. As you head south down Gastineau Channel, watch as the signs of civilization slip into the wake. Soon high-rises, power lines, and cruise ships are far behind you and orcas, humpbacks, and rafts of seabirds lie ahead of you. Your first night's anchorage is in a quiet harbor outside the borders of Glacier Bay National Park. Here you can launch kayaks and take your first paddle in the wilderness.
Each morning you'll set out with your on-board naturalist. Glacier Bay is an unrivaled setting of glaciers, mountains, islands, and fjords, together with an astonishing wealth of wildlife. Humpback whales take center stage in the summer, with their famous leaps and tail slaps. Orcas and porpoises also patrol the waterways, and you can expect to see bears along the wilderness shores, turning over rocks to find crustaceans. The population of sea otters, once extinct in Glacier Bay due to overhunting, has gradually recovered, and Steller sea lions can be seen on rocky islands. You may also spot otters, and you can watch for mountain goats feeding and sunning themselves on rocky ledges. Kittiwakes nest along the side of the glaciers, while bald eagles come to rest on floating icebergs. The exact itinerary of each departure varies depending on weather and duration, but highlights include Fingers Bay, home to foraging bears, Reid Glacier, with a walk right up to its face, and the Grand Pacific Glacier and Marjorie Glacier.
At time of reservation: 20% of trip cost
100 days prior to departure: Balance
*Please note that this differs from our standard policy.
Minimum fee: 50% of deposit
91-150 days prior to departure: 100% of deposit
90 days or less: 100% of trip cost
*Please note that this differs from our standard policy.
Scroll through our signature accommodations for this trip below. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.
Days 1-7 (7 nights)
The 75-foot research vessel is a historic wooden boat that accommodates up to 12 guests. Constructed in 1932 as a marine research boat, she can maneuver around icebergs, follow whales, get close to glaciers, and tuck into tiny coves that most passenger vessels wouldn't even dream of approaching. Delicious meals,...
Days 1-7 (7 nights)
We are delighted to invite you aboard this unique and historic 86-foot wooden vessel. A “gentleman's yacht” designed specifically for exploration, she is ideal for discovering the wonders of Alaska, San Juan Islands, and the Sea of Cortez. You'll find a lovely wood-paneled salon aboard—a great space where you can...
This trip is Level 1+, Easy to Moderate, according to our trip grading system. The expedition vessel serves as a mobile base camp. You'll explore remote coastlines and fjords by day, then enjoy the comfort of the ship in the evening for good food, fine company, and a comfortable bunk. With just a few hours of cruising each day, there is plenty of time for walking, wildlife watching, or sea kayaking all in the company of an on-board naturalist who shares insights into the local botany, natural history, and native culture.
No previous kayaking experience is required. Unlike whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking skills can be learned quickly and easily. The waters of the Inside Passage are protected from the open ocean and are generally calm. It is not the intention to kayak on stormy days or when sea conditions are truly "rough" with high winds and waves (such occasions are infrequent in these waters during the summer). Nevertheless, unpredictability is the rule for the weather in Alaska, and good kayaking weather throughout cannot be guaranteed. And with such a comfortable "mother ship," you can always opt out of any kayaking or hiking to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and the great views from on board. Please note: Climbing a ship's ladder to access skiff and kayaks during excursions is required.
Be prepared for temperatures ranging from the low 30sF to a high of 70F. Southern Alaska has a marine climate, which means rain is to be expected at some point on every trip. The rain itself is often a gentle mist, casting an aura of magic and mystery over the land. We hope for sunshine but recommend that you plan for wet, cool weather. You will be comfortable as long as your rain gear is adequate!
Layered clothing works best in the changing weather conditions typical of the Pacific Northwest Coast and Southeast Alaska. Layers are easier to pack and more versatile than a single heavy coat. Don't bring down jackets or ski clothes (they don't dry well in the damp climate). Good rain gear is essential; it will enable you to remain comfortable in the wind or rain. Bring your high rubber boots (or use the ones provided on board) for wading and for use in the kayaks and small boats (you will wear these everywhere you go).
Meals onboard are elegant, locally sourced, and artfully presented. Fresh ingredients come from local providers whenever possible, including organic farmers, and fish is bought directly from local fishers. Complimentary beer and wine is offered on board. You are welcome to bring any special wines, liquors, and mixers you enjoy. Soft drinks, coffee, and tea are always available.
Every trip aboard a small ship can -- and should -- be slightly different. This is our planned itinerary, but if conditions and wildlife, whether on land or sea, present us with special opportunities, we'll alter our course and head that way to experience it. Our itineraries are leisurely -- we don't rush past hundreds of miles of beautiful coves and inlets to stay on schedule, and we don't travel at night. A flexible attitude and an openness to the unexpected keep the adventure alive on these voyages.
"The cruise and crew pasted our best expectations! And Michael's culinary skills made this trip extra special! Wonderful experience!"
"All-in-all, the trip was amazing—the trip of a lifetime. The crew did a wonderful job and the kayaking and hiking was great (although I could have done more, but do realize that sometimes the boat just has to travel!). And we were really fortunate to have a great group of guests that all got along."
Our Area Specialists know every detail about our tours. They will be happy to answer any questions and help you choose the journey that’s right for you. Contact us to learn more or book your trip today!
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With more than 200 different adventures to choose from, we want to help you find the trip that’s right for you. Our Trip Level system ranks each trip in two ways: a number rating from 1 to 6 according to the activity, and general travel rigors. 1 is the easiest and 6+ the most difficult—see descriptions below for explanations of each number. A plus (+) sign means the trip is a bit more strenuous than other trips of that level. The detailed explanation of each trip—below the bar with the number rating—is perhaps more important, specifying activities, altitudes, hiking, and travel conditions. The Detailed Itinerary, available by download or mail, gives further information. Our Area Managers can also answer questions and guide you to the trip that best suits your interests.
Level 1 – Easiest
Non-camping journeys, optional walks, little elevation gain or loss.
Level 3 – Moderate
Half- to full-day hikes (3-6 hours) over rolling countryside on most days, occasional steep trails. Many of our hotel-based walking tours are in this category, as are our snorkeling adventures.
Level 5 – Strenuous
Full-day hikes (4-8 hours), mountainous, steep terrain (hiking up or down as much as 3,500 feet) on many days. Trips with hiking at average altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet are in this category.