Once all guests have embarked, join us at a Sail Away cocktail party as we depart on our spectacular expedition: “Islands of the Bering Sea and Alaskan Peninsula”. During the afternoon you will be introduced to important members of the crew and your expedition team. We invite you to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home and meet some of your fellow travelers. In the evening enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
A leisurely morning 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 preparing you for Chukotka and the Russian Far East. Join the lecturers and hear fascinating tales of adventure and learn more about the region’s wildlife and remarkable nature.
During the late morning we will be approaching Provideniya. After lunch, we will start our walking tour of this former military outpost. Many of the houses have been abandoned, but those inhabitants that stayed behind seem to be optimistic that Provideniya will once again be an important port –most probably for the Northeast Passage. We will have a look at the very well-presented collections of the local museum, and will be entertained by local and Russian songs and dances. For those inclined to more hiking, you can leave the town towards the south in direction of the cemetery accompanied by our expedition staff.
A Zodiac cruise and visit to Plover Bay might follow in the late afternoon.
Proliv Senyavina promises a nice tundra hike to reach some hot springs located inland. Fishermen have set up a base on the shore and use a specially prepared area once in a while. We will hike to the hot springs and take a relaxing dip.
During lunch and the early afternoon we cruise the Bering Sea to reach Yttygran Island. On the northern shore of this island is the famous “Whalebone Alley” –an area with large numbers of carefully arranged skulls and whalebones. It is not only on land that we can see evidence of whales; grey whales are known to roam the seas around Yttygran and we might spot them during our approach or after our departure.
The Kuyvyveen bird cliffs not only show a varied bird life, but also are one of the most spectacular settings for a Zodiac cruise. We will spend the morning here to look for and photograph birds and geology. A large sheltered bay with towering cliffs composed of light-colored granite and streaked by darker rock on each side creates the spectacular scenery of Cape Kuyvyveen. A sandy beach lies at the head of the bay with rolling tundra behind. The sheer granite rocks, distinct basalt caves and arches of the cape are home to thousands of Tufted Puffins that nest in rocky crevasses. Despite the cliffs on either side of the bay being quite close together, the adjacent terrains attract different species of birds. Thick-billed Murres, Glaucous and Slaty-winged Gulls, Parakeet Auklets and Red Phalaropes frequent the dramatic rocky formations while Common Murres, Pelagic Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes line the cliffs and archways.
In the evening we will briefly stop in Provideniya for our outward clearance.
On our way back to Alaska we will be crossing the Dateline again -this time it will work in our favor, as we will have either yesterday’s date twice –or today will be tomorrow as well. Time travel is strange…
Take advantage to sleep in, be on the outer decks to look for marine mammals and seabirds, and attend one of the lectures preparing you for the Pribilof Islands. There surely are ways to keep you busy and even if it is “only” sampling the culinary specialties the Hotel Department is preparing for you.
Today we will see two of the islands belonging to the Bering Sea Wilderness. At Hall Island we will spend the morning using our fleet of Zodiacs to explore the rugged coast of this uninhabited island. Here we hope to witness the vast numbers of kittiwakes and guillemots that make their nest on the steep cliffs. Jacob’s ladder and lousewort will thrive between the auklet colonies. Be on the lookout for Arctic fox, and Horned Puffins that are regularly seen from the Zodiac.
During lunch Silver Explorer will continue to St. Matthew Island. There you will step upon an island few have ever even heard of. Known as Alaska’s most remote location, it was designated by President Teddy Roosevelt as one of America’s first nature reserves in 1909. The focus today is on botany and birding -McKay’s Bunting, Lapland Longspur, and various seabirds are normally seen. At this time of the year the plants are alive in purple, pink and blue hues. Another treat you may see is the singing vole, endemic to St. Matthew.
During the morning, while Silver Explorer will cruise the Bering Sea, enjoy a lecture about the natural history of Alaska. After lunch, join us for a guided walk to the Salt Lagoon, Town Cove and the Rift Point fur seal haul out. The bird cliffs and seal rookery are located at the eastern edge of the island. On the way you will note the fish and crab processing plant near the water, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church standing above the town.
To check out the seals on the low side of the island we will have to use the seal blind -to peer out into the busy seal rookery without disturbing anything. The sub-adult male northern fur seals lying on the grass in front of the blind have to wait until they are large enough to stake out their own territory down on the water’s edge and collect a harem of females of their own. On the far side of the blind, the view opens up to the ocean and St. Paul’s working waterfront. In the foreground however are close to a thousand sea lions barking, wailing, posturing and rushing one another, and hundreds of pups, waiting in groups for their mothers to return from the sea.
Heading up to the bird cliffs you will be rewarded with stunningly close views of Tufted Puffins and Common Murres perched on the rocky ledges.
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. Famous for its fishing fleet and documentaries done about the catch of king crabs out of Dutch Harbor, we will have a look at life on land and the different historical aspects of Unalaska and Amaknak Islands. During our city tour, we might visit the World War II bunkers and the spectacular Russian Orthodox Church. Dutch Harbor is one of the best (or easiest) places to see Bald Eagles and today birders will have excellent views of these magnificent animals.
Unga Island had an Aleutian settlement which had been subject to a small gold rush. Unga 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 one 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.
Castle Bay is just around the corner from Chignik, a fishing village of just a few hundred inhabitants –much depending on the season. The name Castle Bay was given, as the great scenery and the skyline of the mountains resembles turrets and towers of a castle. With our Zodiacs we will be cruising along the two ramifications of the northwestern arm of Castle Bay, bringing us close to harbor seals, Bald Eagles, Pigeon Guillemots, Marble Murrelets, Mew Gulls, Black-legged Kittiwakes and Vega Gulls.
At Geographic Harbor and Kukak Bay we have another opportunity to get up close to wildlife. The scenery at Geographic Harbor at the head of Amalik Bay is magnificent and brown bears are ubiquitous. This is one of the prime areas in this region for bear viewing. Silver Explorer’s Expedition Team will lead a variety of Zodiac tours in search of bears, sea mammals and birds. Brown Bears, sea otters, Bald Eagles, Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Surf Scoters, Pigeon Guillemots, Black-billed Magpies, as well as Northwestern Crow and Golden-crowned Sparrow have all been seen here.
In the afternoon Kukak Bay promises further and interesting Zodiac cruises with more brown bears, sea otters and Black Oystercatchers and Goldeneyes seen as well.
The Chiswell Islands –part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge- will give us a last chance to go out in our Zodiacs to get a close-up 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.
Kenai Fjords National Park’s famous Holgate Glacier will be our last chance to see a calving glacier. Enjoy the views from the outer decks as we leave the area shortly before sunset.
Today our onboard videographer will present our Voyage-DVD recounting all the different impressions seen and adventures had during our voyage “Islands of the Bering Sea and Alaskan Peninsula”.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
Note: 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.
* Itinerary may be subject to change