The rugged Alaska coast offers limitless opportunities for uncrowded, pristine adventure. On our Family/Group Charters, you'll experience hiking, kayaking, surfing and paddleboard adventures in the astonishing blue-green waters of calm coves and bays, and among haunting icebergs adrift in mystical fjords.
Join us on one of our scheduled eight-day expeditions. You'll enjoy observing the amazing wildlife and breathtaking scenery of Southeast Alaska, home to eagles, black and brown bears, humpback whales, orcas, stellar sea lions, sea otters, porpoises and harbor seals. The 95' Glacier Bear offers an outstanding platform from which to launch your adventure, and a nice warm place to relax after daily sessions. The Crew will pamper you, while the Captain maneuvers Glacier Bear to place you in the perfect location.
[ For our Juneau to Sitka Alaska Adventure trips, we will follow the reverse order of this itinerary. Participants should plan to arrive on a regularly scheduled Alaska Airlines flight in Juneau, Alaska on the day prior to our trip departure. You will have the afternoon and evening free to explore the sights in Juneau! We will provide you with a list of lodges, including the Westmark Baranof. ]
While we have a carefully planned schedule, each trip may differ slightly, depending upon wind and tides, weather conditions, wildlife viewing opportunities, and the goals of participants. Plan to arrive in Sitka, Alaska on a regularly scheduled Alaska Airlines flight on the day prior to our trip departure. You will have the afternoon and evening free to explore the sights in Sitka! We will provide you with a list of lodges, including the Westmark Sitka.
Day 1: A long and exciting day awaits us. After an early breakfast (on your own), passengers are invited to come aboard Glacier Bear at 8:00 am. The crew will familiarize you with your quarters, and show you where to stow your gear.
Soon we're underway, cruising north through the protected waters of Olga and Neva Straits. By late morning we arrive at Kalinin Bay, on Kruzof Island. As we navigate the narrow entrance to the bay, playful sea otters often paddle slowly past us. Today we'll explore pristine Alaskan wilderness on Kruzof Island. Our skiff provides access to the bay, and can also ferry us to shore. Harbor Seals will keep a close eye on us as we quietly paddle by. From our protected anchorage at Kalinin Bay, we'll explore Kruzof Island for the entire day.
The rugged trail to Sealion Cove is a six-mile hike through forest and muskeg, past an alpine lake, to a lovely white sand beach. The cove is on the Pacific Ocean, and big waves are always breaking. Locals come to here to ride the extreme surf of the outer coast. But it's also a wonderful for beach coming, hiking, photography, relaxing in the sand, or just simply taking in the views. Our first stop will be at the Iris Meadows estuary, full of beautiful wild flowers, and a great place to see brown bears and Sitka black-tail deer. Experienced kayakers and paddlers can pack in their boats, and explore the area on the water. We'll explore the alpine lake, ringed with waterfalls.
We'll leave Kalinin Bay in the late afternoon after our exciting day at Kruzof Island, and cruise through Salisbury Sound and Hayward Strait, arriving at our evening anchorage at Appleton Cove, and an opportunity for an optional evening paddle.
Day 2: Glacier Bear is underway early. On our journey this morning, we'll encounter the Sergius Narrows. Here the shore seems close enough to touch, and a strong current flows through the channel markers. The forest is hushed, except for the occasional call of an Arctic tern. As we enter the Narrows, we'll power Glacier Bear through the strong current. A mere hundred feet away, the forest passes by, ever so slowly. Next we pass Deadman's Beach, a location that lives up to it name. In the 1800's, Russian fur traders frequently visited Southeast Alaska to hunt for sea otters. They captured many Aleuts, enslaving them to help with the hunt. Their attempt to enslave the Tlingits, however, ended in disaster. A group of Russian trappers captured several Tlingits, and insisted that they prepare dinner. The Tlingits went out on the tidal flats and collected clams and mussels – and the Russians ate their fill. Unfortunately the shellfish were toxic with paralytic shell poisoning. The Russians perished along this stretch of beach, and ever since since it has been called Deadman's Beach.
In early afternoon, we arrive at Baranof Warm Springs Bay, where a natural hot spring is situated next to a rushing waterfall. Baranof Warm Springs is the outlet of Baranof Lake and the Baranof River. There are natural outdoor hot pools, and a public bath house which features three separate tubs and communal hot springs pools. A boardwalk takes us through the flora and fauna to picturesque Baranof Lake.
After our short stop, we'll continue south down Chatham Strait. We'll cruise east into Frederick Sound, across the top of Kuiu Island. Humpback whales surround us along the way, showing us their tail flukes, and slapping the water with their pectoral flippers. We can smell their fishy breath as they surface, and spout through their blowholes. As we exit Chatham Strait, we'll begin looking for larger pods of humpback whales, this time exhibiting a number of varied feeding behaviors. Some practice bubble-net feeding, swimming in circles while blowing bubbles to form a curtain to corral in a mass of tiny fish. Others practice lunge feeding, breaking the surface at a 45-degree angle, mouth fully open, and throat cavities expanded like an accordion to collect all the fish scooped up by the lunging maneuver.
Our anchorage this evening is in Security Bay, located on the north side of Kuiu Island. It provides safe haven for Glacier Bear, in an area of open water facing Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait. Another opportunity for an optional evening paddle?
Days 3: After breakfast this morning, we'll continue our journey. We'll cruise east through Frederick Sound, across the top of Kupreanof Island. Small pods of transient orcas are often seen along the way, showing us their large dorsal fins as they pass us. We smell their fishy breath as they surface, spouting through their blowholes.
As we reach the southern edge of Admiralty Island, we'll start looking for larger pods of humpback whales, this time exhibiting a number of varied feeding behaviors. Some practice bubble-net feeding, swimming in circles while blowing bubbles to form a curtain to corral in a mass of tiny fish. Others practice lunge feeding, breaking the surface at a 45-degree angle, mouth fully open, and throat cavities expanded like an accordion to collect all the fish scooped up by the lunging maneuver.
We'll anchor in an idyllic setting known as Scenery Cove, inside of Pybus Bay,. The sounds of nature drift in across the evening calm. Beautiful, remote and protected from outer waters, Scenery Cove is pristine wilderness — and the perfect place for a hike or paddle. We often catch a glimpse of brown bears fishing in nearby salmon-filled streams and rivers. With the largest concentration of nesting bald eagles in the world, Admiralty Island offers many chances to also see Canadian geese, trumpeter swans, cormorants and blue herons found in the fringe habitats between the forest, muskegs, meadows, and along the shore.
If conditions permit, we may hike up a newly-formed valley on the north side of the fjord, just recently uncovered by the receding North Dawes Glacier. The icy glacial outwash river divides a meadow and scree slope, and features a big waterfall. Black bears commonly come down to the meadow to graze. We'll take in the magnificent vistas, and listen for the mournful howls of wolves. In mid-afternoon, we'll reverse directions. Our destination this evening is another small cove nestled safely inside of Holkham Bay. The evening light is beautiful, as we dodge icebergs and wind our way back down Endicott Arm and into the bay.
Day 4: After a relaxed breakfast, Glacier Bear is underway once again. Today our destination is Endicott Arm, and a small cove, nestled safely inside of Holkham Bay. Throughout the day, we'll watch for whales, sea lions, Dall porpoises, orcas, and sea birds. Arriving at The Brothers, we anchor in an idyllic cove between two small islands, where the sounds of breathing whales, grunting Stelllar sea lions, and screeching eagles drift in. During an extra-low tide at The Brothers, various anemones gleam brilliantly. Eventually we have to depart, but first we'll pause for a close-up look at another colony of Stelllar sea lions, crowded on the rocks of one of the outer islands that comprise The Brothers. We'll pass by Five Finger Islands Light, and pause to view a colony of Stelllar sea lions, crowded on the rocks of tiny Sail Island. The males vie noisily for dominance over their harems. As we continue cruising, we'll watch for breaching whales, fast-moving pods of orcas, and Dall's porpoises.
We'll head north through Stephens Passage, and watch for Dall's porpoises, orcas, and sea birds. Our destination this evening is a small cove, nestled safely inside of Holkham Bay. Wildlife abounds throughout the area. Our evening anchorage provides a great opportunity for a quiet paddle, and a beautiful sunset.
Day 5: Glacier Bear is underway in the early morning hours. We have planned our day to make the slack tide across Wood Spit and into Endicott Arm. Along the way we'll be alert for drifting icebergs, as well as humpback whales and orcas. We are bound for Sanford Cove, near the Sumdum Islands. Sanford Cove is the abandoned site of the mining community of Sumdum. Not much is left of the town, other than a few pilings. This is prime salmon-spawning habitat, which lures brown bears to the creeks and rivers in the area. We hike along the banks of tiny Sanford Creek, through an old growth Sitka spruce and Douglas fir forest, to a stunning waterfall, illuminated by the morning light in a remarkable grotto of ferns and mosses.
It's only a short run to Fords Terror, one of the most spectacular anchorages in Alaska. There are many places to explore by kayak or skiff. Surrounded by 3,500-foot granite faces, we marvel at the mist clinging to the precipices. We'll make our way through the tidal rapids (at slack water, of course) into the majestic and stunning inner fjord. Rushing tidal currents and whirlpools prevent us from entering (and exiting) when the current is at full strength. We cautiously cruise through Ford's Terror into a T-shaped terminus, as we slowly wind our way into the fjord. We are in a vertical world of granite cliffs and glacier-carved cirques. Dozens of waterfalls cascade down their slopes, emptying into the turquoise waters of the fjord. Our evening anchorage is near a delightful waterfall. Black bears often visit the area, grazing on the abundance of berries in the meadows, and fishing for salmon in the stream.
Days 6: After an early breakfast, we depart for our day-long cruise into the Endicott Arm, a narrow fjord that twists and turns through towering mountains. Massive glaciers carved their way through these coastal mountains, over the course of thousands of years. Waterfalls drop thousands of feet off the granite mountains, and sapphire blue icebergs serenely float by in the emerald green water. We'll continue to Dawes Glacier, at the ice-choked end of the fjord. Extraordinarily blue and beautiful, this glacier is quite famous for its active calving, and we’ll likely witness gigantic chunks of ice breaking away from the face of the glacier.
We'll linger at the face of the glacier, and witness the calving and booming of the icebergs. We'll also paddle through iceberg-laden waters, and we'll observe the antics of the many harbor seals hauled out for a rest on the ice. We'll hear the glacier rumbling and thundering, and we'll safely watch as waves surge down the shoreline of the fjord. Like the explorers here before us, the majesty and awe of this ice-carved land has etched itself into our memories.
If conditions permit, we may hike up a newly-formed valley on the north side of the fjord, just recently uncovered by the receding North Dawes Glacier. The icy glacial outwash river divides a meadow and scree slope, and features a big waterfall. Black bears commonly come down to the meadow to graze. We'll take in the magnificent vistas, and listen for the mournful howls of wolves. In mid-afternoon, we'll reverse directions. Our destination this evening is No Name Cove, nestled safely inside of Holkham Bay. The evening light is beautiful, as we dodge icebergs and wind our way back down Endicott Arm and into the bay.
Day 7: Our journey concludes today. This morning we cruise through the heart of the Inside Passage. We'll head north through Stephens Passage, arriving in the early afternoon at Taku Harbor. Taku Harbor is a natural, bowl-shaped harbor that was once home to a major salmon cannery. The 700-acre marine park is located on the eastern shore of Stephens Passage, about 22 miles southeast of Juneau. Taku Harbor is frequently used as a night anchorage by commercial fishing boats and small tour ships. Taku Harbor offers lots of fishing and crabbing opportunities.
In late afternoon, we'll arrive at Auke Bay Harbor in Juneau, the state capital of Alaska. With views of island-studded waters, and stately spruce forests reaching to the water's edge, bustling Juneau is considered one of Alaska's most idyllic seaside towns. The scenic community is nestled between forested mountains and the waters of Alaska's Inside Passage.
There's plenty to see and do around Juneau, especially in the thriving downtown district. The population estimate in 2014 was 32,406, making it the third most populous city in Alaska, after Anchorage and Fairbanks. Juneau's daily population can increase by roughly 6,000 people from visiting cruise ships between the months of May and September. The city is named after gold prospector Joe Juneau.
In the early evening, join us in the lobby of the Westmark Baranof. You'll be able to catch an Alaska Airlines flight tomorrow from Juneau, with connections to Seattle.
The trip of a lifetime. Every moment of the experience was a true blessing. The Captain, Neil Nickerson and the Crew, Jeff Polizzotto and Al Smith, were the best ever. We were fortunate to have John Schnell, an amazing photographer and guide, with us as well. I highly, highly, highly recommend the trip. One month later and I'm still feeling inspired by the beauty and mystique of Alaska.
Sailing for a week on Glacier Bear with Captain Neil was one of the greatest vacations! We sailed from Sitka to Juneau, and we saw the most amazing wildlife. We were one with the wilderness. The hiking, fishing, kayaking, paddleboard and photo opportunities were "bar none." This is a wonderful and intimate experience. You'll be spoiled by the crew — Al and Jeff were on board with us. And you will eat fresh and excellent food.
On this amazing eight-day family/group charter, we'll experience Alaska's Inside Passage and the spectacular Outer Coast. Along the way we'll see charming fishing villages, an incredible array of wildlife, and breathtaking scenery.