Classic Discovery Voyage
This is a typical itinerary for our “Classic” Discovery Voyage in Prince William Sound, one of our most popular Alaska small ship cruise tours. Please keep in mind that itinerary changes may occur to take advantage of wildlife viewing opportunities or visit places of particular interest to our guests, or to avoid open water during times of inclement weather. Nights are spent at anchor in any of the Sound’s intimate and protected bays, fjords, or coves. Trip length may vary from this sample itinerary. See the Trip Schedule for length of specific upcoming voyages.
Arrive in Anchorage and transfer on own to your downtown Bed & Breakfast (included) for a comfortable night stay. Accommodations offer convenient access to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, a network of developed hiking and bicycling trails throughout the Anchorage area. We recommend a walk or bike ride this afternoon or evening, if time allows. The views of the Alaska Range are spectacular! Dinner on own this evening. A great selection of restaurants are within easy walking distance of your B&B. We’re happy to share our favorites.
Van transfer pick up by Discovery staff at 10:00am for the scenic ride along Turnagain Arm, known for its tremendous tidal flats and frequent sightings of Beluga Whales. Continue south through the Chugach mountains to rendezvous with the captain and crew in Whittier for a warm welcome aboard the Discovery. While the crew prepares for departure, relax in the Discovery’s cozy salon and enjoy specially prepared appetizers of smoked salmon or halibut spread with crackers, fresh baked breads, fruits, and a plentiful selection of fine beverages.
Leave Whittier in the early afternoon, enjoying lunch while cruising east and south past lush rainforest-clad slopes and past numerous waterfalls. After lunch, we will launch inflatable zodiacs to take us onshore for an easy hike. Return to the Discovery to find an exquisite dinner waiting of local Copper River Red salmon, roasted rosemary potatoes, fresh vegetables, and elegant desserts. A selection of wine and other beverages are available. Meanwhile, the Discovery travels to an evening anchorage in one of the Sound’s many intimate and secluded coves.
Mornings aboard the Discovery are usually relaxed with a casual open breakfast served from 8:00 a.m. till 10:00 a.m. works well with guests from various time zones and individual morning routines. Enjoy a variety of warm fresh breads, muffins, rolls, fruits, cereals, warm egg dishes, juices, coffee and tea are all available. Underway in the morning, the Discovery sails through Knight Island Passage and Dangerous Passage towards Icy Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for dorsal fins and blow spouts — some of the Sound’s most frequent Orca and Humpback Whale sightings are found along this route.
At midday the Discovery navigates her way through the Nassau Fjord. Several miles of icebergs and brash ice (smaller pieces of glacial ice) lay between the fjord’s entrance and the calving face of Chenega glacier, named after the local native community of Chenega. The massive 200-square-mile Sergeant Ice field funnels ice down a wide mountain valley, forming a mile-long, 200-foot-high wall of ice that topples giant blue chunks into the sea. Calving tidewater glaciers occur in only a few places in the world and Prince William Sound is home to the greatest concentration of them in Alaska. The Chenega glacier, with its daunting size and thunderous sounds, offers a remarkable opportunity to experience firsthand the tremendous natural forces that move these spectacles of nature.
Hundreds of harbor seals make Icy Bay their summer home, using the floating ice as resting platforms and safe places for birthing. The rocky mountainsides around Chenega glacier also support a healthy and frequently visible population of mountain goats. Binoculars serve as helpful aids in sighting these skillful mountain climbers, and the Discovery can provide a pair if you don’t have your own. If conditions are favorable, some guests may enjoy a short hike above the glacier with opportunities to take photographs of the many small ice bergs that have washed ashore. After lunch, the Discovery exits this ice-laden fjord for Bainbridge Passage. Late afternoon and early evening provide opportunities for more Orca and Humpback whale watching. If successful, we’ll pass this helpful information on to the local whale researchers of the North Gulf Oceanic Society. Enjoy a relaxing dinner while the Discovery travels along Knight Island, into the uncharted narrows of Long Channel for the evening’s anchorage.
The unhurried morning routine of relaxed and casual breakfasts allows for flexible wake up times. Traveling northwest through more “sea pastures” fertile with whale watching opportunities, the Discovery cruises toward a noisy and raucous Steller Sea Lion haulout. These entertaining creatures put on quite a display—some show off their graceful water acrobatics while others roar and bellow, or recline lazily upon the large rocky shore. After a short visit with the sea lions, we turn westward toward an impressive waterfall, and lunch is served along the way. Those wanting to stretch their legs can take the short Zodiac ride ashore for a guided hike through the world’s northern-most temperate rain forest, rich with ferns, mosses, and towering Spruce, Hemlock and Cedar.
Later in the day, we travel the remote shores of Eaglek Bay to visit the oyster farm of David Sczawinski. Oyster lovers will enjoy one of the Sound’s most delicious sea products. It doesn’t come fresher than this. Upon leaving Eaglek Bay, the Discovery makes a brief stop near one of the many small islands that are home to a colony of Tufted Puffins, thought by many visitors to be Alaska’s most photogenic seabird. Continuing westward through Wells Passage, enjoy appetizers of expertly prepared fresh oysters and dinner of macadamia-encrusted halibut, complimented by fresh vegetables, fresh baked focaccia, dessert, dinner wines and other beverages. Set course northward to the fringes of College Fjord for the evening’s anchorage and midnight sunset views.
Guests awake to a casual breakfast and a day of some of the world’s most spectacular scenery as the Discovery navigates the icy, blue waters of Barry Arm. Harbor seals hauled out on flotillas of icebergs watch as we cruise through these corridors of breathtaking beauty, framed by mountains stretching skyward to nearly 10,000 feet, with glacier after glacier descending the terraced mountain valleys. The Sound’s lush rainforest drapes the slopes in green as streaming waterfalls fall from the rocky cliffs. Listen to the cracks, pops and thunderous roars of the Cascade, Barry and Coxe glaciers while the Discovery, dwarfed by blue and white walls, drifts silently by these actively calving rivers of ice.
For guests seeking an even closer perspective, the Discovery crew will launch the inflatable Zodiac for a guided exploration of this magnificent area. Touch the impressive face of Coxe glacier, watch the showy Black Oystercatchers strut across the rocky shorelines, sense the presence of the curious Hoary marmots and drink in the bright pinks of fireweed and the intense blues of the alpine lupine.
After lunch, spend time exploring the wonders of Harriman Fjord and Surprise Glacier. Hike along the shore among beached icebergs stranded by the ebbing tide, or possibly an upland hike, offering broad spectacular views of the Chugach mountain range and glacier-valleys. Then the Discovery will explore deeper into the ice filled fjord for a chance to kayak and up to the face of Harriman Glacier. On this journey, you’re entertained by families of playful sea otters foraging the shellfish-rich shallow waters of their favorite feeding ground. As a protected species, these otters exhibit little concern for human presence, instead offering great opportunities for photos and up-close observations. Nature offers few chances to see animals in the wild as “cute” and adorable as these mothers with young pups.
Spend the morning exploring the wonders of Harriman Fjord and Surprise Glacier. Hike along the shore among beached icebergs stranded by the ebbing tide, or possibly an upland hike, offering broad spectacular views of the Chugach mountain range and glacier-valleys.
Then the Discovery will explore deeper into the ice filled fjord for a chance to kayak and up to the face of Harriman Glacier. On this journey, you’re entertained by families of playful sea otters foraging the shellfish-rich shallow waters of their favorite feeding ground. As a protected species, these otters exhibit little concern for human presence, instead offering great opportunities for photos and up-close observations. Nature offers few chances to see animals in the wild as adorable as these mothers with young pups. Enjoy a memorable final dinner on the Discovery while continuing toward the evening’s anchorage.
Awake today immersed in a wilderness sanctuary of quiet beauty. This powerful living landscape leaves many of us feeling awed and humbled. Take in the morning light on the deck of the Discovery while enjoying a hot cup of coffee or tea. Look out for one more whale as you relax in the main cabin or keep watch on deck in the salty ocean breeze. Lunch will be served while taking in the sights of Passage Canal prior to docking in the Whittier Harbor and your van transfer to Anchorage. Overnight in Anchorage.
Enjoy breakfast this morning at your Bed & Breakfast. Transfer on own to the airport for departures home, or you may choose to extend your stay in Alaska. If you have the time, we recommend seeing Dave Parkhurst’s Northern Lights show at the Performing Arts Center, or a visit to the Museum of Natural History and Art; or, if you have children, you may find a visit to the Alaska Zoo to be fun and informative (the indigenous Alaskan wildlife at the zoo are all “rescued” animals, taken to captivity only when they could not survive in the wild). Often, there is an outdoor market in downtown Anchorage, featuring Alaskan art and other local goods.
- May 19 - May 23
- May 30 - June 3
- June 13 - June 17
- June 18 - June 21
- June 23 - June 27