The Admiralty Dream needs a big sticker across its stern that reads: We stop for wildlife.
The 66-passenger vessel will travel the Inside Passage for next summer’s WolfTreks Southeast Alaska cruise (Aug. 10-17, 2013), and Kathy Hart, who manages the Alumni Association’s travel program, previewed the trip last week.
“Captain Stu slowed, stopped or positioned the Admiralty Dream so that we could see sea lions lazing on South Marble Island, a mother wolf and her cubs feeding on salmon at the mouth of a stream in Glacier Bay and mountain goats perched on steep, rocky mountain ledges,” Hart says. “If you truly want to experience the beauty and wildlife of Alaska, then a small-boat trumps the big cruise liners any day. We saw and did things that were only possible from a smaller vessel.”
Travelers will be able to disembark the Admiralty Dream to kayak or skiff in bays where they might see bears on shore; sea lions, sea otters or harbor seals in the water; and eagles or puffins flying overhead.
“On one kayaking adventure, a curious sea lion surfaced within a foot of the boat, and on a skiff ride, we saw a mother bear and two cubs ambling on one shore and another bear running along the opposite shore,” Hart says. “The amount of wildlife we saw in its natural habitat was awe inspiring.”
Naturalists will be aboard to provide comprehensive information about the wildlife, habitat, geology and history of southeastern Alaska. And travelers will learn about the culture of the Tlingit [pronounced kling git], the indigenous people of the area. See their totems, watch their dances and hear the stories of this society that hunted and gathered in the Alaskan rain forests.
And what could be more spectacular than seeing a calving glacier, a fluking humpback whale or a pod of orcas (killer whales)?
“We visited two glaciers — Sawyer Glacier in Tracey Arm and Margarie Glacier in the Glacier Bay National Wildlife Refuge,” says Hart. “We skiffed within a quarter mile of Sawyer. We saw seals napping on ice throes, heard the glacier cracking and listened for the sound of ice cascading into the water to indicate a calving. It was an experience of a lifetime.”
Every day offers an adventure on this seven-day cruise that begins and ends in Sitka. And that’s why Hart chose small-boat travel for her WolfTreks travelers.
“It’s flexible and provides a more personal travel experience,” she says. “When the captain heard on the radio that orcas were in the area, he took us right to them. The next day, he saw ‘blows’ on the horizon and the next thing we knew, we were surrounded by 40 to 50 humpback whales who put on a show that amazed even the native Alaskans on board.”
If you would like to read more about next summer’s Alaskan adventure, visit the travel section of our website and click on Southeast Alaska, Aug. 10 to 17. Hart will be posting photos and videos from the trip soon, and you can call her to make reservations on the phone with a credit card or just to ask questions.