2022 Alaska and the Inside Passage – Part 6 – Wildlife Cruise and Crab Feast in Sitka

August 28, 2022 – Our ship docked in Sitka just a short walk from where we boarded a boat for our wildlife cruise. Once again it was raining off and on all day.

Our captain took us through a narrow passage where we had a close up view of tree covered islands. Our guide was a naturalist who pointed out interesting things to see like the orange starfish in the next photo.

When the rain began I went back inside the warm, dry cabin. This humpback whale came up right outside my window.

The captain slowed down for a closer look at these sea otters. Some were just floating around and others were diving and playing. They are so cute and fun to watch.

As we traveled to Fin Island Lodge for lunch we spotted this American Bald Eagle hanging out in a tree close to the water.

We ate our fill of Alaskan crab, salmon, and prime rib with all the trimmings. Lunch was followed by a campfire on the beach where we roasted our own marshmallows to make S’Mores with locally make chocolate bars.

We boarded the boat for a ride back to the cruise ship dock where the rain was coming down in buckets.

The historic town of Sitka is located a few miles from the cruise ship dock. There is a shuttle which runs back and forth to the town. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time to visit the town. I did manage a few minutes of shopping at some of the shops at the dock.

Next up – Our last Alaskan port and more Alaska Wildlife

2022 Alaska and the Inside Passage – Part 3 – Whale Watching and Brown Bear Search in Icy Strait Point

August 25, 2022 – We had a full day of wildlife excursions in a new to us location – Icy Strait Point, the only privately owned cruise ship destination in the United States. This former cannery and packing station is located near the town of Hoonah on Chichagof Island, the fifth largest island in the United States. The two cruise ship docks, a museum, restaurants, shops, and excursions are all owned and operated by the local Tlingit people.

We started our day with a whale watching expedition. Our Tlingit captain Drew sped through the water to get us to a good whale watching location. Everyone was on the lookout.

Thar she blows!

Our first sighting was a pod of about five humpback whales. I tried but I could never capture all five of them on the surface at once.

We witnessed a type of feeding behavior called bubble-net feeding. The whales all dive at once. When they all surface at the same time they are in a circle with their heads up and their mouths wide open. It’s hard to predict where they will surface and when they do, they only stay on the surface a few seconds. Sadly, I never could capture them all at once.

It was an amazing to see how the whales work together to feed this way. Captain Drew kept moving the boat so everyone could get a better look. The whales continued to feed the entire time we were there – almost two hours.

As these whales headed straight for our boat I heard the captain say “I think we’re going to need a bigger boat.”

I could have stayed on the boat watching the whales all day but the captain had a schedule to keep and we had a bear search to get to. In the gallery below, the green walkway led us from the cruise ship dock to Icy Strait Point. We checked in for our bear search at the Adventure Center and had about an hour to explore before boarding a shuttle to take us to the trail. The Orca statue was the only Orca we saw the entire trip.

It was fun wandering through the museum and gift shops. I love the totems.

Our Tlingit bus driver told us about the area as he drove us through the beautiful Tongass National Forest and through the town of Hoonah. He was very knowledgeable and I really enjoyed hearing his stories about the Tlingit people.

He dropped us off at the trailhead where we met our guide for our trek through the forest. We stopped at the boardwalks beside the Spasski River where we hoped to see Coastal Brown Bears feeding on the salmon. There were salmon in the river, but no bears. Despite the fact that there were no bears I really enjoyed the walk through the forest.

After an exciting morning we arrived back at the ship with a big appetite for lunch. We just barely made it before they stopped serving hamburgers at the pool bar!

Up Next – Alaska’s capital city and the Mendenhall Glacier.

Glaciers and Wildlife in Seward, Alaska

Our Alaskan Journey continued in Seward, Alaska where we spent three nights in the Seward Waterfront Park.

Day 63: Wednesday, July 17, 2013. Palmer to Seward, Alaska. Seward Waterfront Park, Resurrection Campground Site R5. 132 miles traveled.

Our drive took us through downtown Anchorage and then south along the Seward Highway. There were spectacular views of Turnagain Arm and mountains most of the way.

We arrived in Seward and searched the city campgrounds for a waterfront site but had no luck so we picked a site in the fourth row from the water and then took a walk to the small boat harbor to check things out.

Day 64: Thursday, July 18, 2013.

A van picked us up at 9:45 and drove us to the harbor for our 7 1/2 hour sightseeing cruise on the Spirit of Adventure with Major Marine Tours. Our trip took us through parts of Kenai Fjords National Park and there was a park ranger on board to tell us information about the wildlife and glaciers we were seeing. We had comfortable seats inside a cabin where we stored our gear and then went outside to see the sights. As we traveled through Resurrection Bay we could see our RV when we cruised by the campground. There were sea otters in the water and we stopped to watch a mother and calf humpback whale.

The cruise continued thorough Ailiak Bay to the Holgate Glacier for a close view of the half mile wide Holgate Glacier and Surprise Glacier. Captain Nicole turned off the engines so we could listen for the sound of ice breaking loose from the glacier before falling into the sea. When the ice breaks loose and falls it is called calving. We heard and watched about four or five calvings before moving on to the next glacier.

Our next stop was at the mile wide Ailiak Glacier where we witnessed more spectacular calvings. There was complete silence on the boat as we waited for the roar of ice. We were fortunate to see several more chunks of ice fall into the water including what our captain said was one of the biggest ones she has ever seen. Take a look at the next sequence of pictures to get an idea of what the ice falling looks like.

Hearing and seeing the ice fall was simply amazing. I could have sat there all day but the cruise continued as we traveled through the Chiswell Islands and saw more humpback whales, puffins, and other wildlife. Captain Nicole got us back to the dock right on time at 5:30. What a great day.

It was our anniversary so we drove about four miles out of town to the Salmon Bake restaurant for a Salmon dinner to celebrate. I just can’t get enough of this salmon!

Day 65: Friday, July 19, 2013

After a day at sea, some of it being in very rough waters, we were both sore and exhausted. I think 2 months of travel and sightseeing tours finally caught up with us. We both slept late and took it easy all day. We took a last drive around Seward in the afternoon.

Day 37: A day cruise to Juneau

Day 37: Friday, June 21, 2013. Aboard the Fjordland from Haines, Alaska to Juneau, Alaska

There have been many WOW moments on this trip but our trip to Juneau has them all beat by far.

At 8:30 am we gathered at the dock with our friends Ted and Ruth Ann to board the Fjordland for an all day cruise to Juneau. The boat has comfortable seats inside the cabin and a nice viewing platform in the rear for wildlife viewing and photography. Our captain was very knowledgeable about the area and he and his daughter kept an eye out for wildlife. He would slow down or stop when there was something interesting to watch.

Our first wildlife came when we saw hundreds of steller sea lions at a rookery along the rocks.

There were so many whales we lost count. Some were too far off to see very much detail but we were fortunate to see some up close.

We passed by glaciers and waterfalls and even a lighthouse on the way to Juneau.

The boat docked a little outside of town so we boarded a bus to take us downtown. We enjoyed lunch at the Red Dog Saloon before doing a little shopping and sightseeing in the capital of Alaska. Next was a stop at the Mendenhall Glacier to see a glacier up close.

After touring the Mendenhall Glacier we boarded the bus for our ride back to the dock. We enjoyed a delicious bowl of seafood chowder with smoked salmon while we rested up from our hard day of sightseeing. Whale sightings continued and our captain took us close by the Eldred Rock Lighthouse we had passed on the way to Juneau. Want to buy it? It’s for sale!

Our trip on the Fjordland was the Fjord Express to Juneau cruise offered by the Alaska Fjordlines. I highly recommend it. It sails from either Haines or Skagway to Juneau.