Day 1 - Seward, Alaska, USA
As soon as all guests have embarked, a mandatory safety drill will be performed by all. This afternoon you will be introduced to important members of Silver Explorer’s crew and your Expedition Team. We invite you to familiarise yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travellers and in the evening enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
During dinner we depart on our spectacular 17-day expedition “In the Footsteps of Vitus Bering”.
Day 2 – Holgate Glacier and Chiswell Islands, Alaska, U.S.A.
Kenai Fjords National Park’s famous Holgate Glacier will be our only chance to see a calving glacier. The glacier comes down from the Harding Ice Field and reaches the Holgate Arm of Aialik Bay. Enjoy an early morning Zodiac cruise towards the glacier.
During lunch Silver Explorer will sail to the Chiswell Islands –part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The islands will give us the first chance to go out in our Zodiacs to get an up close look at Steller sea lions. Thousands of birds call these rugged islands their home and we can expect to see Horned Puffins, Tufted Puffins, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and of the auklet family the Cassin’s Auklet and the Whiskered Auklet, among others.
Day 3 –Kukak Bay and Geographic Harbour, Amalik Bay, Katmai National Park
Katmai National Park’s landscape is breathtaking, with 15 active volcanoes, towering mountain peaks, rolling tundra, rugged, wave-battered coastlines and the largest brown bear population in the state.
Here we have the opportunity to get up close to abundant wildlife. The entrance to Kukak Bay is quite scenic and one should be outside on deck to start searching for bears. Quite often sea otters are seen in the water drifting by. We will offer Zodiac cruises along Kukak Bay in search of wildlife and to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Good places to look for wildlife are the two river mouths. The scenery is magnificent at Geographic Harbour, at the head of Amalik Bay, and bears are even more frequent than at Kukak Bay.
During our Zodiac cruises there usually are ample opportunities to see and photograph brown bears.
Day 4 -Semidi Islands and Chignik, Alaska, U.S.A.
The Semidi Islands form a stunning and uninhabited archipelago that is home to some of the largest populations of native and undisturbed wildlife in the United States. There are an estimated 2.5 million birds found here, considered almost half the breeding seabirds of the Alaska Peninsula. Horned Puffins, Northern Fulmars and jaegers, and over a million murres (guillemots for Europeans) have been seen -among them Ancient Murrelets and Parakeet Auklets. The surrounding sea is home to sea otters, sea lions, seals, porpoises and whales.
During the afternoon Silver Explorer will sail west towards the Peninsula and will reach Chignik. With only 91 inhabitants, Chignik is a remote fishing village with two fish plants. In summer the population doubles, as fishing gets better. We will visit the village during the late afternoon.
Day 5 — Unga Village, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, U.S.A.
Explore this Aleutian settlement which had been subject to a small gold rush. The village was eventually abandoned in the 1960’s and now has a somewhat sombre appearance. Many of the houses have collapsed. From a distance the church with the tower seems intact. Standing close you can see that only the roof is standing on the ground, the walls having collapsed. Great Horned Owls nest near the church. During a Zodiac-cruise in the bay kittiwakes, Double Crested and Pelagic Cormorants, as well as good numbers of Common Murres and Tufted Puffins can be seen.
Day 6 — Dutch Harbour, Unalaska Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, U.S.A.
The Aleutians stretch 1300 miles from mainland Alaska to Kamchatka. At one time they were stepping stones for Russian trappers and traders, who established settlements on the islands. Dutch Harbour became a trans-shipping point for the gold boomtown of Nome. Today most of the islands form part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
Dutch Harbour will be one of the few places on our voyage that Silver Explorer will go alongside. Together with the city of Unalaska, Dutch Harbour is a bustling community with about 4,000 residents. It is connected by bridge to the rest of Unalaska on Amaknak Island and its name is frequently applied to the entire town. During our visit, we will see the World War II bunkers and the spectacular Russian Orthodox Church. Dutch Harbour is also one of the best places to see Bald Eagles.
Day 7 — At sea
During our day at sea, have a leisurely breakfast, attend one of the lectures covering the North Pacific’s natural history and help our Marine Biologist watching for cetaceans or our Ornithologist looking for albatrosses and other pelagic seabirds. Relax in one of the lounges, enjoy a cigar and meet up with new friends for cocktails.
Perhaps the onboard Photographer will present a workshop to help you with advice and tips for better photos and/or editing. In the evening enjoy another special dinner by our Executive Chef and his team.
Day 8 -Kiska Harbour, Kiska Island, Alaska, U.S.A.
While approaching the island, we search for Least and Crested Auklets, Peregrine Falcons and Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses, all the while keeping an eye open for the sperm whales that frequent the area. We would like to do a landing and hike on the eastern shore. Evidence of the Japanese occupation during WWII is still visible at Kiska Harbour. Once ashore we see the remains of a Shinto shrine left behind by the 6000 strong occupying force. During our nature walks we hope to see Ptarmigans, Lapland Longspurs and Bald Eagles.
Day 9 – Attu, Alaska, U.S.A.
During the morning attend a lecture or scan the waters and sky for marine mammals and seabirds. Around noon we reach Attu, the westernmost point of the United States and the site of the only WWII battle fought on North American soil — over two thousand Japanese soldiers lost their lives at Massacre Bay. The island is an ornithologist’s paradise and today we hope to see some of the Asian migrants that are occasionally spotted. Be on the lookout for Peregrine Falcons, Lapland Longspur and Aleutian Canada Goose.
Day 10 — Cruising Bering Sea and crossing the dateline
A leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Begin perhaps with a late breakfast and another cup of coffee or tea during the first of the day’s lectures. Join the lectures and hear fascinating tales of adventure and learn about the Russian Far East, its wildlife and remarkable nature. Our knowledgeable Lecture Staff members are experts in a variety of scientific fields. Today you will also become a time traveller: coming from the east and heading west you will cross the International Dateline actually from west to east and therefore loose a day!
Day 11 — Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia
Petropavlovsk, the town of Peter and Paul, derives is named from the two sailing ships used by Vitus Bering when the great explorer reached Avacha Bay in 1740. It is the only major city on the peninsula and one of the oldest. Petropavlovsk is also the scientific and cultural centre of the region, and today local guides will take us on a comprehensive tour including the museum of ethnography and natural history, the art school, the gold-domed Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the marketplace.
Day 12 -Ruskaya Bay and Utashud Islands, Russia
South of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy is the 15 kilometre long Ruskaya Bay. The northeast to southwest direction and narrow body of water have made this bay a perfect place to look for shelter in foul weather -and fishing fleets and WWII convoys headed for Vladivostok have made ample use of the bay. Two shipwrecks can still be seen close to the bay’s southeastern shore. A river, used as a source of freshwater in former times, meanders through the valley and with our Zodiacs we will have to see how far we can explore, or if we hike to the small stands of trees found there.
In the late morning Silver Explorer will continue south towards our next stop at the Utashud Islands.
The Utashud Islands are a small cluster of islets with spectacular scenery. The islands feature gentle slopes and steep cliffs which make them ideal habitat for various seabird species. Harbour and possibly spotted seals are plentiful along the shores. An old rusty ship wreck could be seen on the southwestern side of one of the island slabs.
Day 13 — Atlasova Island, Russia
A stretch of 800 miles separates the southern end of the Kamchatka Peninsula and Hokkaido in Japan. The Kuril chain of over 30 volcanic islands is an important breeding ground for Steller sea lions and one of the richest areas in the world for seabirds; up to 14 species of auks, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots can be found in the islands.
With 6,500 ft. (2,000 m) Alaid is the highest volcano in the Kurils. The volcano is praised by the Japanese for its almost perfect volcanic cone. We land by Zodiac on the black lava beach for a walk to see the remains of the Taketomi tufa cone and the women's prison, or gulag. Women, many of them political prisoners during the Soviet rule, were sent here to raise foxes for fur.
Day 14 — Lovyshky Island and Yankicha Island, Russia
During a morning Zodiac cruise we will search for northern fur seals and Steller sea lions around this cluster of small islands and rocky outcrops. Here you should have excellent views of auklets too! Aboard our Zodiacs we can normally drift among the Whiskered, Crested and Parakeet Auklets. Tufted Puffins with their colourful bills and flowing yellow head plumes are also around.
After the Zodiac cruise at Lovyshky, Silver Explorer will sail south for the impressive island of Yankicha. Its sinking volcanic caldera is accessible on its southern side only by Zodiac and only during high tide. Inside the magnificent lagoon with its fumaroles and hot springs, we can still see traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago and a visit here is invariably one of the highpoints of the entire voyage. The number of the breeding auklets is truly incredible. If we are lucky we may also catch a glimpse of an Arctic fox. For spectacular views –weather permitting- we will hike up the crater’s flank.
Day 15 — Chirpoy Island, Russia
During the early morning we take our Zodiacs to search along the coast for the profusion of wildlife that lives in the area -including Steller sea lions, Northern Fulmars, kittiwakes, puffins and auklets.
In the afternoon you can attend another lecture or seminar and prepare yourself for tomorrow’s visit to one of the seal and sea lion hotspots in the Russian Far East.
Day 16 — Tyuleniy Island, Russia
Tyuleniy means “seal” in Russian, and during the summer months the island is home to literally tens of thousands of northern fur seals and Steller sea lions. Our visit at the height of the breeding season is timed to see not only the seals and sea lions, but also the Black-legged Kittiwake, Tufted Puffin, Common Murre and Pelagic Cormorant that summer on the island.
Day 17 - Korsakov, Sakhalin Island, Russia
Our last stop in the Russian Far East is Korsakov. We will not only clear out of Russia, but will also take the time to see the area’s highlights. We will explore part of the city that was founded in 1853 as Sakhalin's first Russian military post. From Korsakov we drive to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the capital of the island with a population of just over 160,000. Founded as a small Russian settlement in the 1880s, the city became a Japanese prefect capital when the southern half of Sakhalin was declared a Japanese colony in 1905. After WWII the island was returned to Russia. Highlights include a visit to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Regional Museum housed in an impressive former Japanese mansion, and the bustling market. Enjoy a performance of traditional Cossack song and dance.
Do not miss the presentation of the voyage’s DVD by our onboard Videographer, and join your fellow travellers for the Farewell Cocktail hosted by the Captain.
Day 17 — Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan
After clearance into Japan and following breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
Not sure what to wear while onboard? Visit our shop and gear up. We've got layers to keep you dry and warm, breezy wear to keep you covered and cool, and accessories to keep everything packed up and ready to go. So, no matter the weather, you'll be better prepared for your expedition.
Our Gear Shop has an expert outfitting staff and features all the essentials:
Make sure you get all your essentials today. We offer packages or individual items, for your convenience, and recommend you place orders at least 30 days before your embarkation date.