Whale Watching Voyage
The waters around Montague Straits and Hinchinbrook entrance provide excellent feeding ground for many whales that forage in the Sound, feeding on krill and juvenile herring. The itinerary will focus on looking for whales in this general area when the weather is favorable. We’ll also target some of our favorite highlights of Prince William Sound’s natural treasures, including calving glaciers, shoreside hiking, skiff excursions, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. Nights are spent at anchor in any of the Sound’s intimate and protected bays, fjords, or coves. Please note that the actual route or sequence of day travel may vary.
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 the Turnagain Arm, known for it’s 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. 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 selection of fine beverages.
Leave Whittier in the early afternoon, enjoying lunch while traveling east and south to a hiking destination. Upon arrival, we will launch inflatable skiffs to take us onshore for a short hike through rainforest vegetation, rivers and waterfalls, and massive glaciers. Return to the Discovery for an exquisite dinner waiting of local Copper River red salmon, breads, vegetables, dessert, dinner wines and other beverages are available. Meanwhile, the Discovery travels to an evening anchorage in one of the Sound’s many secluded coves.
Mornings aboard the Discovery are usually relaxed and casual. An “open” breakfast served from 8:00 a.m. till 10:00 a.m. works with guests from various time zones and morning routines. Enjoy warm fresh breads, muffins, rolls, fruits, cereals, various hot breakfast options, juices, coffee, tea and other beverages. Underway in the morning, the Discovery sails through Knight Island Passage and Dangerous Passage towards Icy Bay. Some of the Sound’s most frequent Orca and Humpback Whale sightings are found along this route; keep your eyes peeled for dorsal fins and blow spouts.
At midday, the Discovery navigates her way through Icy Bay’s Nassau Fjord. Several miles of icebergs lay between the fjord entrance and the massive, calving face of Chenega glacier. The massive, 200-square-mile Sergeant Ice field funnels ice down a wide mountain valley, forming a one-mile-wide, 200-foot-high wall. This active tidewater glacier, with its daunting size and mammoth sounds, offer a remarkable opportunity to experience firsthand the tremendous natural forces that move these rivers of ice. 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 support a healthy, frequently visible population of mountain goats; binoculars serve as helpful aids in sighting these skillful mountain climbers and are available on board. After lunch, the Discovery exits this fjord for Bainbridge Passage, where you can try your luck fishing for Pacific Halibut and Rockfish. Late afternoon and early evening provide opportunities for more Orca and Humpback whale watching. If successful, we’ll pass this information on to the local whale researchers of the North Gulf Oceanic Society. Enjoy a relaxing dinner while the Discovery travels south along Knight Island, into the uncharted narrows of Long Channel for the evening’s anchorage.
Day 4 & 5
These days will be dedicated to viewing whales in the southern region of Prince William Sound. Weather will play a key factor in the specific location of travel. Our route may take us through Prince of Wales passage, to Elrington Passage, and into Montague Straights.
The “unhurried” morning theme of a relaxed and casual breakfast awaits your flexible wake up time. Cruising northwest through more “sea pastures” fertile with whale watching opportunities the Discovery courses toward a noisy and raucous Seller’s Sea Lion haulout. These entertaining creatures put on quite a display, some show off their graceful water acrobatics while others roar and beller, or recline lazily upon the large rocky shore. After a short visit with the sea lions, travel turns towards an impressive waterfall, with lunch served along the way. Those wanting to stretch their legs can take the short zodiac ride around the bay and ashore for a guided hike through the world’s northern-most temperate rain forest, rich with ferns, mosses, and towering Spruce, Hemlock and Cedar trees. Later in the day, 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, fresh from the waters of Prince William Sound. Upon leaving Eaglek Bay, the Discovery makes a brief stop near one of the many small islands, home to a colony of Tufted puffins, thought by many visitors to be Alaska’s most adorable seabird.
Continuing westward through Wells Passage, enjoy a dinner of fine filet mignon, expertly prepared fresh oysters, complimented by vegetables, fresh breads, rosemary roasted potatoes, dessert and wine selections. 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 the world’s most spectacular scenery–corridors of breathtaking beauty, sprawling glaciers and a panoramic skyline of mountain grandeur. Harbor seals and sea otters watch closely as the Discovery navigates the icy waters of Barry Arm.
The enveloping mountains of this inlet stretch skyward to nearly 10,000 feet, with glacier after glacier descending the terraced mountain valleys. Alaska’s lush rainforest vegetation drapes the hillsides 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 a different perspective, the Discovery crew will launch the zodiacs for a guided exploration of this area. Touch the face of Coxe glacier and watch the Black Oystercatchers strut the shorelines.
The Discovery exits this magical place for the return voyage to Whittier. Passing through Port Wells, 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. Appetizers are served while taking in the final 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.