silversea

Seward (Anchorage), AK To Otaru

RUSSIAN FAR EAST expedition cruise Silver Explorer

On this wide-ranging journey, follow in the footsteps of traders and explorers through the wilds of Russia and Alaska. Enjoy spectacular birding opportunities and keep an eye out for brown bears, among other creatures. Admire the rugged beauty of surrounding landscapes: rocky headlands, humbling glaciers, snow-capped volcanoes and tundra teeming with wildflower.
Voyage 7813

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Cruise itinerary

Our itineraries are second-to-none – below please find detailed information regarding ports of call, arrival and departure times, as well as supplemental information about the destinations you’ll visit
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It is hard to believe that a place as beautiful as Seward exists. Surrounded on all sides by Kenai Fjords National Park, Chugach National Forest, and Resurrection Bay, Seward offers all the quaint realities of a small railroad town with the bonus of jaw-dropping scenery. This little town of about 2,750 citizens was founded in 1903, when survey crews arrived at the ice-free port and began planning a railroad to the Interior. Since its inception, Seward has relied heavily on tourism and commercial fishing.

View 5 Land programme(s) in Seward (Anchorage), AK

Kenai Fjords National Park’s famous Holgate Glacier is a spectacularly active river of ice. The surrounding glaciated landscape paints a dramatic portrait of the rugged mountains in contrast to the cold blue ice of the glacier. On approach, the waters leading up to Holgate Glacier may be peppered with bits of ice and the crackling noise of ancient air bubbles being released from small bergs. Periodically loud cannon-like blasts emanate from the glacier, and some are accompanied by calving events off the ice front.
The Chiswell Islands are part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and deservedly so. Small bays, inlets and sea cliffs are populated by innumerable seabirds including Black-legged Kittiwakes, Pelagic Cormorants, Horned and Tufted Puffins, as wells as guillemots, auklets and murrelets. The Chiswell Islands are blessed with towering cliffs and sea caves offering up spectacular scenery and a Steller sea lion rookery that bustles as the marine mammals commute to feeding grounds, socialize, and care for their pups.
Larsen Bay is one of the hotspots of commercial and sports fishing on Kodiak Island’s western side. The village of Larsen Bay is home to one of the oldest standing canneries on Kodiak Island. Situated in a scenic valley at the mouth of a narrow fjord, the small village of Larsen Bay lies within Kodiak Island’s National Wildlife Refuge -which covers the southwestern part of Kodiak Island- and is the starting point for scenic flights over the mountainous island.
This stunning and nearly uninhabited archipelago is home to some of the largest populations of native and undisturbed wildlife in the United States. There are 2.5 million birds here, almost half the breeding seabirds of the Alaska Peninsula. Large numbers of seabirds including Ancient Murrelets, Parakeet Auklets, Horned Puffins, Northern Fulmars and jaegers, and over a million murres are on hand here. The surrounding sea is home to sea otters, sea lions, seals, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins and whales.
Chignik is a fishing village on the Alaskan Peninsula and home for just under 100 year-round inhabitants. Most of the houses in the community are connected by a boardwalk that fringes a local stream and neighborhood kids can be seen riding their bicycles back and forth on its length. In the summer months the population doubles, as the fishing gets better and the town supports a couple of fish-processing plants. Chignik is a remote outpost at the doorstep of the Aleutian Island chain and offers up a true taste of Alaskan outback life.
The Aleutian island of Unga holds an ancient petrified wood forest and a more recent ghost town that was the site of a small gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The village was eventually abandoned in the 1960’s and now has a somewhat somber appearance. Many of the houses have collapsed and are overgrown with brilliant fuchsia fireweed wildflowers. From a distance the church looks intact, but up closer it is apparent that the roof is standing on the ground, and the walls have completely collapsed.
The crumpled peaks, and tranquil scenery, of Dutch Harbor belies its history as one of the few places on American soil to have been directly attacked by the Japanese - who bombed the significant US military base here during the Second World War. Located on a string of islands, which loops down into the Pacific from Alaska, a visit to this Aleutian Island destination offers comprehensive military history, and extraordinary ocean scenery. Hike the volcanic, gloriously green landscapes, and look out for wonderful wildlife, like bald eagles, as they survey the surroundings.

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones or simply topping up your tan by the pool, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Russian traders led by Vitus Bering in the mid-1700s would have been some of the first non-native explorers to visit Kiska Harbor on Kiska Island in the Aleutian chain. The Japanese occupied the island during WWII and relics of war have been left behind in the harbor including a Japanese two-man submarine. The occupying force of 6,000 soldiers also left a Shinto shrine behind whose remains can still be visited today. Ashore there are ptarmigans, Lapland Longspurs and Bald Eagles.
On a world map Attu Island marks the westernmost point of the United States. It is also the site of the only WWII battle fought on North American soil. Over two thousand Japanese soldiers lost their lives at the aptly named Massacre Bay on Attu’s southeastern coast. Today the island is an ornithologist’s paradise visited by an array of birds migrating through as they come or go to Asia with the seasons. Peregrine Falcons, Lapland Longspur and Aleutian Canada Goose might be spotted in the summer months.
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones or simply topping up your tan by the pool, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
The Kamchatka Peninsula is part of the Eastern frontier of Russia. Due to its close proximity to the United States, the region has played a strategic role in the defense of Russian territory throughout modern history. As a result, the territory was closed for many years to foreigners and Russians alike. Fortunately, the region's isolated position played a significant role in preserving and protecting its unique wilderness and rich biodiversity. With few roads, most regional transportation is by plane, boat, or helicopter.

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.
Three small islands form Utashud and seem to be the remnants of a former volcano raising 80 meters (262 feet) out of Vestinik Bay. Although the island is deprived of forest, fragments of giant petrified trees have been found on its shores. Utashud is one of the richest islands on the southeastern side of Kamchatka in terms of wildlife. The island is notable for its population of sea otters (up to 300 individuals). In fact, native people from Kamchatka used to visit this island to hunt for sea otters, valuing the thick fur of their pelts.
The near-perfect cone of Alaid volcano dominates Atlasova Island with its 2000-meter (6,500-foot) peak. It is the highest volcano in the Kuril Islands and over time generated the black lava beaches and the eroding Taketomi tufa limestone cone near the landing site. At one time a women’s prison, or gulag, was located on Atlasova. The women, many of them political prisoners during the Soviet rule, were sent here to raise foxes for fur. Peregrine Falcons can sometimes be spotted flying above the beach, while buzzards, Eurasian Wigeons, and Tufted Ducks have all been observed on the island.
Any articles published about the Kuril Islands are likely to linger over the impressive Yankicha Island. It is the southernmost of two islets forming Ushishir Island. Yankicha is distinct in having at its center a caldera that is accessible by small boat only during high tide. Inside this extraordinary lagoon are fumaroles and hot springs, both traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago. Fortunate visitors may encounter an Arctic fox or the rare Whiskered Auklet. Ashore it is also possible to see Arctic Warblers and Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warblers.
Ketoy volcano forms a 10 km wide island in the Kurile Islands. Although the first historical eruption of Pallas Peak, during 1843-46, was its largest, strong fumarolic activity has been observed on the northern flank of Pallas Peak in the 1980s. The volcano's structure is very complex and a younger 1172 meters high stratovolcano forms the northwestern part of the island.  Lava flows from Pallas Peak overtop the caldera rim and descend nearly 5 km to the southeastern coast.
The oftentimes fog-shrouded coasts of Chirpoy Island teem with a profusion of wildlife including Steller sea lions, Northern Fulmars, kittiwakes, puffins and auklets. Whales, and specifically orcas, have also been seen around Chirpoy. The dramatic volcanic nature of the island is apparent in the subtly shaded layers of sediment flanking the sides of the active Snou volcano.
Thousands of Northern fur seals and Steller sea lions call Tyuleniy Island their home. The island is appropriately named, as the word tyuleniy means “seal” in Russian. During the summer months, tens of thousands of seals and sea lions haul ashore here during the breeding season. The cacophony of their barks, belches, grunts and groans is difficult to imagine. Bulls, their harems, and many thousands of young black pups all jostle for space on the crowded beaches that flank the small rocky island.
Korsakov is used as a technical stop for ships clearing in and out of Russia. In addition to being a port of call for these formalities, the city was once home to an Ainu fishing village frequented by regional traders and early Russian expeditions. History also suggests that there may have been a significant Japanese population here at one time with reports of a Japanese religious temple on record.
Otaru is a small harbor city west of Sapporo. Famous for its many hills and a nearby ski resort, the town has been an important trade and herring fishing center. A wide canal that led from the port to the old town’s warehouses has been maintained for touristic purposes and the old stone or brick-built warehouses have been beautifully converted to restaurants and boutiques.

View 1 Land programme(s) in Otaru

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Owner's Suite

728 ft² / 67m² including private balcony

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618 ft² / 57m² including a private balcony

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422 ft² / 39m² including 2 French balconies

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400 ft² / 37m² including a private balcony

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206-216 ft² / 19-20m² including a French balcony

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192 ft² / 18m² with large picture window

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Explorer Suite

175-190 ft² / 16-18m² with view window

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157-167 ft²/14-15 m² with 2 portholes

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included in the cruise fare

  • Personalised service – the best crew-to-guest ratio in expedition cruising
  • Butler service in every suite and stateroom – all guests are pampered equally
  • Open-seating dining options – dine when and with whomever you please
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship – select wines, premium spirits, specialty coffees and soft drinks, plus your own tailored mini-bar
  • In-suite dining and room service – available 24 hours aboard Silver Explorer, and from 06:00 to 23:00 aboard Silver Galapagos and Silver Discoverer
  • Enrichment lectures by a highly qualified Expeditions Team
  • Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
  • Gratuities always included in your fare
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Complimentary Parka

Silver Explorer

Silversea’s purpose-built luxury Silver Explorer expedition cruise ship has been designed specifically for navigating waters in some of the world’s most remote destinations, including both of earth’s polar regions.  A strengthened hull with a Lloyd’s Register ice-class notation (1A) for passenger vessels enables the Silver Explorer Expedition Cruise Ship to safely push through ice floes with ease. A fleet of 12 Zodiac boats allows Silversea Expedition guests to visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations and an expert Expedition Team provides insight and understanding to each unforgettable Silver Explorer luxury cruise adventure. 

Suites

Silversea's oceanview suites are some of the most spacious in cruising, and all include the services of a butler. Select your suite and Request a Quote - guests who book early are rewarded with the best fares and ability to select their desired suite.

Restaurants

Discover our collection of onboard venues where you'll enjoy spending time with like-minded travellers and of course, our personalized all-inclusive service.

Public Areas

Renowned for culinary excellence and innovative spirit, Silversea's luxury cruises offer a choice of open-seating dining options throughout the fleet, as well as several specialty venues aboard all non-expedition ships.

6 Land programmes and 2 Hotels

Our land programmes (multi-day mid-, pre- or post-cruise) provide additional opportunities to discover more of the highlights and hidden treasures of the lands you visit.

Your expedition will lead to one discovery after another. A complimentary programme of unique, small-group shore experiences, led by team of expert guides and lectures, allows you to fully experience the lands you'll visit.

voyage highlights

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 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 get an up close look at Steller sea lions using a local boat. 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 –Larsen Bay, Kodiak Island, Alaska, U.S.A.
Kodiak Island's National Wildlife Refuge covers the southwestern part of Kodiak Island. Silver Explorer will reach Larsen Bay, one of te hotspots of commercial and sports fishing on Kodiak Island's western side. The village of Larsen Bay is home to one of the oldest standing canneries on Kodiak Island.

To get a good overview of Kodiak Island, we will offer a scenic plane ride to view Kodiak's mountainous terrain, seeing native villages and commercial fishing operations as well as marine life and other wildlife.

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. Kittiwakes, Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants, as well as good numbers of Common Murres and Tufted Puffins can be seen in the bay.

Day 6 — Dutch Harbor, 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 Harbor 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 Harbor will be one of the few places on our voyage that Silver Explorer will go alongside. Together with the city of Unalaska, Dutch Harbor 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 museum or 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 Harbor, 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 Harbor. During our nature walks we hope to see 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. We will have to see how far we can explore, if we hike to the small stands of trees found there or perhaps do a Zodiac cruise.

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.

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 — Yankicha Island and Ketoy, Russia
During the morning Silver Explorer will be in front of 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.

During the late afternoon we will do a Zodiac cruise at Ketoy. Apart from the basaltic columns seen during the tour, we will be looking for Steller sea lions, Slaty-backed Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, White Wagtails, Buff-bellied Pipits and the odd puffin. 

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, the bustling market and a cultural performance.

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.

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