3 Ways To Explore Southeast Alaska
Back in July, a small ship for 20 guests was charted from Beijing to cruise the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska for seven days. Departing Juneau, sailing north around Admiralty Island and out toward the outer coast. Then turning south to Frederick Sound, culminating the trip at Dawes Glacier in Endicott Arm. Follow along as photographer, Miriam, shares three of the most memorable moments from this exclusive Experi trip.
We rose at 6:30am on the fourth day of our journey. Sheltered in Pavlof Harbor on Chichagof Island, the waters were glassy and calm. Mist hovered close to the boat, slowly rising to reveal the horizon. Guests grabbed paddles and cautiously stepped into kayaks, at first wary of their proximity to the water. I snagged one of the few remaining stand-up paddle boards and glided into the bay with a camera around my neck, ready to document the guests' experiences. The water was so calm I couldn’t have tipped my board even if I tried. The tide was out, and guests paddled into shallow waters to observe starfish. White, translucent jellyfish lurked a few feet below the water. After gaining confidence in the kayaks, guests then switched to paddle boards, eager to try something new in this environment perfect for autonomous exploration.
On the sixth day, when we were well underway across Frederick Sound to Dawes Glacier, the Captain smoothly cut the engine. The guide made an excited announcement in Mandarin over the boat’s speaker. More than 20 humpback whales had surrounded our boat. Guests frantically grabbed their cameras and rushed to the bow deck. Having waited for the English announcement, I was a few moments behind them, but not by long. Shortly after, a second announcement was made that a skiff boat was going to take a group out for a closer look. The guests hurriedly strapped on life jackets and boarded the small, inflatable boat. I watched from the top deck, observing the whales and guests from my expansive, 360º view. It was utterly silent except for the occasional splashing of the huge mammals — beautiful and mysterious and serene all at the same time.
On day seven, we started cruising southeast Alaska while it was still dark. Gleaming blue icebergs floated silently past our hull. Endicott Arm is reserved for small passenger boats only, preserving the guests’ experiences from the larger ships that frequent Tracy Arm. On our way to Dawes Glacier, nestled at the end of the arm, we pulled into Ford’s Terror, a very steep and narrow fjord. Although I was already familiar with the iconic, misty evergreens of Washington, this fog was intensely thick and layered. Like all of southeast Alaska, it was striking — more silent and majestic than any other Pacific Northwest environment I’ve experienced.
To culminate the week, the Captain maneuvered the ship next to an iceberg and prepared the stern deck for guests to swim in the icy, glacial water. To convince guests that it “wasn’t going to be that cold” — a slight, if not moderate lie — the guide and I took a quick shot of whiskey and jumped in. Although cold, the water wasn’t more frigid than the Puget Sound. Guests quickly followed our lead and jumped in, then immediately wrapped themselves in bathrobes after the dip and scampered up to the top deck for a hot tub.
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About The Author
Experi is a specialty travel company based out of Bainbridge Island, Washington. They handcraft experiences to lead small groups from around the globe to the world’s best destinations. Experi makes travel truly memorable by handling everything from expert itineraries to unique insider access. Their strong local relationships and long-standing expertise turn each exclusive program into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To learn more about Experi’s travel experiences, including their travel brand Gourmandly for food and wine enthusiasts, visit experi.com and follow Gourmandly on Facebook and Instagram.