See Alaska’s Bears, Birds, Whales, and More on This Epic Trip

Sail in style from British Columbia all the way to the Aleutian Islands.

Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm fjords

Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm fjords

Photo by Oscar Farrera

A dream journey to Alaska evokes images of remarkable scenery, Indigenous cultures, and awe-inspiring wildlife sightings. Sea cliffs and fjords, the hum of glaciers, rock walls jutting 3,000 feet up from the ocean, rainforests, bears, whales, salmon, birds of all feathers, and cool morning mists are only the beginning. Then, there’s also cultural history, from the role of the Aleutian Islands in World War II to the Gold Rush.

Hurtigruten Expeditions sails to parts of Alaska where other ships simply can’t go. And with more included excursions, there’s no question that you’ll experience the genuine Alaskan wilderness while aboard this 18-day expedition cruise.The adventure begins in Vancouver, a dynamic city widely recognized for its world-class restaurants, creative scene, and gorgeous Pacific Northwest setting. From there, you’ll board MS Roald Amundsen, a hybrid-powered expedition ship with a two-story Observation Deck that seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor spaces.

The stately vessel provides the perfect vantage point to soak up the scenery or scan for wildlife while sailing along the coast of Alaska via the Aleutian Islands and Misty Fjords. Incredible seal and bird colonies await on Saint Paul and Saint Matthew islands, while black and brown bears flourish in the Kodiak Islands and Katmai National Park. By the time the journey ends in Nome, you will fully and truly understand “the call of the wild.”


Trip Highlight

Katmai National Park

The four-million-acre preserve in Alaska has many distinguishing features–it's renowned for its geothermal activity and lays claim to upwards of a dozen active volcanoes. It's also home to brown bears and more than 2,000 protected grizzly bears, the highest concentration in the world. Of course, you'll likely see a few of them during a scouting expedition led by an experienced bear guard.

Trip Designer

Hurtigruten Expeditions

Hurtigruten Expeditions has been a global leader in sustainable expedition travel for 130 years. Their fleet of modern expedition ships is designed to transport guests to the world's most remote destinations in a comfortable and stylish setting. On each voyage, hand-picked experts lead guests through thrilling activities and shore landings. It's all part of Hurtigruten's mission to help protect the places they visit and pioneer a greener way of cruising.
View over Vancouver Bay

View over Vancouver Bay

Days 1 and 2Vancouver, Canada and embarkation

The adventure starts in Vancouver, a city surrounded by steep mountains that appear to rise from English Bay. You could arrive early or set aside time after your cruise to explore the city’s many attractions, like galleries, museums, and restaurants. Consider a train trip in style through the Canadian Rockies with Hurtigruten’s Pre-Program if you have more than five days to spare.

Distinct neighborhoods like Gastown, Vancouver’s Victorian neighborhood, are full of character. Here you’ll find the 553-foot Vancouver Lookout, offering 360º panoramic views over the city. Or you could unwind with a stroll along Kitsilano Beach or sample some new-to-you dishes at the vast night market in Richmond. No matter your preference, Vancouver has many attractions that accommodate all interests.

However, you won’t feel pressure to pack in visits to all of Vancouver’s must-see attractions. Because after breakfast at the hotel the following morning, you’ll embark on an included city tour highlighting the city’s most well-known sites. The tour concludes at the pier, where you’ll board MS Roald Amundsen, a recent addition to the Hurtigruten Expeditions fleet. From the environmentally conscious hybrid technology to the decor that artfully complements the natural beauty of the destinations where it travels, this innovative vessel was purpose built for polar exploration.

Waterfall in Misty Fjords

Waterfall in Misty Fjords

Photo by Oscar Farrera

Days 3 and 4Canada's Inside Passage and Misty Fjords, Alaska

During the next two days, the ship will travel Canada’s Inside Passage coastal route that stretches more than 930 miles along the Pacific coast of British Columbia and into Alaska. Most other cruises pass through this area at night, but MS Roald Amundsen will journey through the network of waterways, channels, and islands during the day. Plus, the smaller ship size lets you get closer to the sublime scenery of coastal mountains, old-growth rainforests, and shimmering glaciers. Remember to keep your cameras and binoculars nearby in case you spot any whales, dolphins, seals, or bald eagles.

Then, when the ship reaches Alaska, you’ll see the place that influential naturalist and mountaineer John Muir called one of the most beautiful he’d ever seen. Misty Fjords is a sprawling wilderness of towering evergreens, cascading waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks that spans upwards of 2.3 million acres and is part of the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States.

Weather permitting, you’ll join the Expedition Team to tour Misty Fjords on small expedition boats or in kayaks for an optional excursion to see mountain goats, bears, moose, and more. But you’ll also find Pacific salmon, otters, sea lions, harbor seals, orcas, and Dall porpoises in the water.

Petroglyph Beach

Petroglyph Beach

Photo by Ashton Ray Hansen

Day 5Wrangell, Alaska

Welcome to Wrangell, one of Alaska’s oldest harbor towns. Head to the local museum to trace this community’s complicated history—Britain, Russia, and the Indigenous Tlingit people have all governed this land—and learn how the many influences shaped the culture of this singular place.

Delve further into the mysteries of the past during a tour of the ancient rock carvings of Petroglyph Beach, located about a mile away. Remember to take along a pencil and piece of paper to take a stone rubbing as a one-of-a-kind souvenir that will help keep the memory of visiting Wrangell alive. Then step onto Shakes Island in Wrangell’s harbor and visit Chief Shakes Tribal House, a traditional longhouse, and admire the impressive totem poles that exemplify the rich artistic tradition of the Tlingit people.

For those already yearning to experience Alaska’s pristine wilderness, nearby nature trails lead from Stikine River and Mount Dewey to the rainforest. Or join the expert guides for a trip on the waters in small expedition boats, allowing you to see Wrangell from a different perspective.
Sitka, Alaska

Sitka, Alaska

Day 6Sitka, Alaska

Take in the views of the Sisters Mountains and the Mount Edgecumbe Volcano as the ship arrives in Sitka. Surrounded by the Tongass National Forest and accessible only by sea and air, the Tlingit people inhabited this area for more than 10,000 years before the Russians occupied it in 1804 and then sold it to the United States following the Crimean War.

With such a complex past, it’s no surprise Sitka is full of intriguing historical landmarks like the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House. Plus, the Sitka National Historic Park showcases ornate Haida and Tlingit totem poles and preserves the legacy of the Tlingit and Russian people who lived in this region. Finally, those itching to stretch their legs can explore a nearby walking trail that winds through the lush forest and ends at the ocean.


An expedition in Icy Bay

Photo by Oscar Ferrara

Days 7 and 8Icy Bay and the Gulf of Alaska

Get ready for a memorable day. First, you’ll stare in wonder as three different glaciers—Guyot, Yahtse, and Tyndall—calve into Icy Bay. Then, depending on the weather, the Expedition Team will take you ashore to explore the 34-mile-long, eight-mile-wide Guyot Glacier. Or you can opt for a kayaking excursion instead.

No matter what you choose, stay alert for sightings of all three species of North Atlantic albatross, including the rare short-tailed albatross. You’ll also likely see humpback whales, orcas, Steller sea lions, sea otters, and harbor seals lounging on ice floes. The onboard photographer will also be available to provide you with tips to make the most of these incredible wildlife photography opportunities.

There will be plenty to do onboard the ship while sailing across the Gulf of Alaska the next day. In the Science Center, the Expedition Team will offer compelling lectures on the area’s wildlife, geology, glaciology, history, and culture. Or relax and unwind in the infinity pool, hot tubs, sauna, or fitness center, followed by a drink in the Explorer Lounge.
Scouting for bears in Katmai National Park

Scouting for bears in Katmai National Park

Photo by Jonathan Tramontana

Days 9 and 10Kodiak Island and Katmai National Park, Alaska

The verdant forests and grasslands of Kodiak Island, which happens to be the second-largest island in the United States after the Big Island of Hawaii, have earned it the moniker of the “Emerald Isle.” One of the island’s highlights is its rich Indigenous heritage, which you’ll learn more about at the Alutiiq Museum. A visit to the 1808 Baranov Museum, housed within the oldest standing building in Alaska and focused on the early Russian colonial period, is also a must.

During your included excursion today, you’ll also explore Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, which grants a glimpse into the island’s fascinating past. Here, you’ll discover a World War II-era naval installation built to defend against potential Japanese attacks.

Of course, no visit to Kodiak Island is complete without spotting its most famous inhabitants—the Kodiak bears. Around 3,000 of these magnificent creatures roam Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which provides an essential habitat for various wildlife species and covers two-thirds of the island.

The following day, you’ll visit Katmai National Park, a four-million-acre preserve with over a dozen active volcanoes and plenty of geothermal activity. It’s also home to brown bears and more than 2,000 protected grizzly bears, the highest concentration in the world. During a scouting expedition from the deck of small expedition boats, your safety will remain the utmost priority as an experienced bear guard accompanies you to observe these amazing animals while they forage for berries, dive for clams, or catch fish in the stream.
Bald eagles in Haines, Alaska

Bald eagles in Haines, Alaska

Day 11: Chignik, Alaska

The adventure continues with a visit to the traditional fishing village of Chignik, located on the south shore of the Alaska Peninsula, where the rough and rocky Aleutian Mountains meet the Gulf of Alaska. Chignik is also synonymous with its abundant salmon runs—you can snap some photos of them after going ashore.

You’ll have the privilege of learning more about everyday life in this tight-knit community too and how red salmon fishing has sustained the local economy for over a century. Then stop by the local fish factory for an informative tour, chat with the residents, and walk along the scenic docks.

Remember to bring your binoculars before leaving the ship for the day. This area is a real treat for birdwatchers, with more than 20 species of waterfowl inhabiting the region, including the mighty bald eagle you might see soaring overhead.
The ghost town of Unga Island

The ghost town of Unga Island

Days 12 and 13Unga Island, Alaska

Today you’ll discover a real-life ghost town at the southern edge of Unga in the remote Aleutian Islands. This settlement was first established in 1833 by Aleuts, the Indigenous people for whom the islands are named. They later deserted it in 1969 due to insufficient sustenance fishing options. Revel in the peaceful atmosphere as you wander among the remaining wooden structures, increasingly covered by colorful plant life like pink lousewort, wildflowers, and fireweed.

You’ll spend the following day at sea and enjoy the majestic scenery of Alaska. Relax and soak in the dazzling views from the Explorer Lounge, the infinity pool, or the outdoor hot tubs. But whatever you do, keep your eyes peeled for puffins, auklets, murrelets, and other seabirds. You might even spot the rare red-legged kittiwake, a delightful gull-like bird found only in this part of the world.

A puffin on Saint Paul Island

A puffin on Saint Paul Island

Days 14–16The Bering Sea: Saint Paul and Saint Matthew Islands, Alaska

Today you’ll have the privilege of visiting the largest Aleut community in the United States, numbering around 400, after the ship drops anchor at Saint Paul Island. Learn how these resilient people adapted to the harsh environment during a tour of the historical remains of barbaras, or sod houses, the traditional dwellings built half underground to protect against the sea winds.

Saint Paul is also highly significant to the conservation of bird populations and has been designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. In fact, 300 different species of migrating birds use it as a resting point, allowing you to see horned and tufted puffins, the Pribilof sandpiper, and even the rare red-legged kittiwake. But that’s not all—half the world’s population of northern fur seals also live here, so you’re sure to delight in the sight of these adorable creatures waddling and playing on the shore.

The following day will bring you to Saint Matthew Island, a wild and remote piece of land in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge surrounded by the Bering Sea. You’ll see traces of abandoned buildings scattered among the jagged shores and wildflower-dotted tundra, evidence that a few brave souls tried—and failed—to make a home on this uninhabited island. At some point, they left behind a small herd of reindeer that has since become an established population.

As you roam Saint Matthew, listen closely: You might hear the singing vole. This cute rodent is named after its high-pitched and unusual warning cry. Some of the island’s other inhabitants are seabirds—the rare McKay’s bunting breeds almost exclusively here. The next day, as you cruise the Bering Sea, watch for humpback whales as you cross the International Date Line, which marks the boundary between today and tomorrow, adding an extraordinary element to this transformative journey.

The legacy of the Gold Rush is still visible today in Nome.

The legacy of the Gold Rush is still visible today in Nome.

Days 17 and 18Disembarkation in Nome, Alaska and return to Vancouver

Days 17 and 18Say hello to Nome, a town steeped in history and surrounded by the rugged splendor of Alaska. The promise of gold lured prospectors here in 1898, and that legacy is visible today in the form of abandoned dredges, turn-of-the-century steam engines, and old railroad tracks that you’ll see while exploring Nome. Legendary sheriff Wyatt Earp, who moved here to invest in gold mines, even opened a saloon here.

Nome was also the end point of three of Roald Amundsen’s great polar expeditions, making it a fitting place to bid farewell to MS Roald Amundsen before disembarking. Then, you’ll fly to Vancouver—where your expedition will come full circle—to spend the night.

If all this adventure has left you wanting more, Hurtigruten offers an optional Post-Excursion to the nearby mountain resort of Whistler with stops at Shannon Falls and the Sea to Sky Gondola. Or plan your next vacation—Hurtigruten Expeditions has itineraries with seven ships cruising to destinations around the world, including Antarctica, Greenland, and South America.
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