• About Us
  • Blog
  • Store
  • Contact
  • Login

Southeast Alaska Cruise: Whales, Orcas, and Bears

An intimate and in-depth exploration of one of America's wildest places aboard a 12-passenger cruise ship. See whales and other marine mammals, look for bears, wolves, and moose, and enjoy breathtaking forest landscapes, glaciers, and icebergs.

Share This:


  • Ten days spent cruising, kayaking, and hiking in wildlife rich coastal Alaska.
  • Experience incredible wildlife moments and enjoy breathtaking forest landscapes throughout the trip.
  • Look for feeding humpback whales, killer whales (orcas), sea lions, sea sea otters, puffins, brown bears, bald eagles, and other iconic wildlife.
  • Focused time to try to see groups of humpback whales bubble net feeding in herring-rich summer waters.

Read our 2016 Glacier Bay trip report and photo journal from trip leader Jaymi Heimbuch.

This is not your average Alaska cruise! Traveling aboard the 12-passenger Snow Goose, we will explore the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska including Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait with a goal to maximize wildlife sightings and examine our natural surroundings in depth.

Over our 10-day/9-night cruise we will have opportunities for wondrous encounters with humpback whales, bears, moose, mountain goats, sea otters, seals, sea lions, eagles and horned puffins to name just a few. Armed with onboard water sampling capabilities, hydrophones, microscopes, and other tools, we will go beyond basic wildlife observation to truly explore and appreciate the details of this magnificent ecosystem. Six double sea kayaks and a large skiff allow us to fully explore the coastline and make excursions on the shore.

A highlight of our experience will be the opportunity to look for congregations of humpback whales “bubble net feeding” in Chatham Strait and Frederick Sound near the start of our trip. Every summer they migrate north to feed on the herring and tiny krill that blossom with the sunlight. Leaving the humpbacks, we travel onwards toward the town of Wrangell and will pass Chichagof Island and Admiralty Island National Monument, which have very high populations of brown bears. Along our route there will be opportunities for sea kayaking, forest walks, hot springs, and viewing other marine mammals, including sea otters.

Learn more about life on board the Snow Goose below. Your tour will be educational in nature and the onboard naturalist for this expedition will make sure you have excellent wildlife viewing opportunities and a complete understanding of the Southeast Alaska coastal ecosystem.

Wildlife Highlights

During the summer months, the Inside Passage of Alaska is home to a large concentration of feeding humpback whales, and we should have many opportunities to observe these gentle giants and their unique behaviors, including breaching and bubble net feeding. We may also have the chance to see resident and transient killer whales (orcas) during the trip, and other marine mammals including Dall's porpoise, Steller sea lions, and more.

Bald eagles are abundant in this region and will be seen throughout the trip, and we may also see golden eagles and puffins, in addition to many other bird species. With luck, we may also encounter brown (grizzly) and black bears along the shore.

Trip Dates & Cost

2020: Many dates and itineraries are offered July and August 2020; please inquire for routes and prices.

Oceanic Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN: 94-3105570), and every trip supports ocean conservation.



Our itinerary and daily plans will be flexible to accommodate the tides and weather and to take advantage of the surprises and opportunities that occur on each trip.

Day 1: Embark - Sitka, Alaska
Nestled in the shadow of Mt. Edgecombe on the outer coast of Baranof Island, our trip will begin in the Russian capital turned fishing-port town of Sitka. At the Sitka Harbor Master’s office, a member of the crew will greet you and escort you to the vessel. After a brief orientation and cabin assignment, lunch will be served and we will depart from Sitka and head north to prime whale territory. From the Sitka Harbor, we will enter into Sitka Sound and begin to look for humpback whales, sea otters, puffins, auklets, and other pelagic marine species.

Days 2-9: Chatham Strait / Chichagof Island / Baranof Island / Frederick Sound
Our principal focus will be on viewing humpback whales in Chatham Strait and Frederick Sound, with sightings of lunge and bubble-net feeding the primary objective. Starting from Sitka we will proceed through Sergius Narrows into Chatham Strait. The area around Tenakee / Iyoukeen is anticipated to be particularly good for whale viewing and we are planning to spend up to 4 days there.

We then proceed south in Chatham Strait, through Frederick Sound to complete the voyage in Wrangell, AK. Chichagof Island and Admiralty Island National Monument have very high populations of brown bears, and there will be opportunities for sea kayaking, forest walks, hot springs, and viewing other marine mammals, including sea otters.

Day 10: Disembark – Juneau, Alaska (or Wrangell)
On arrival in Juneau, guests will disembark in mid-morning.


Our cruise takes place aboard the power vessel Snow Goose. 65 feet in length, she is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed passenger vessel that has a steel hull, six private cabins (double occupancy), and three shared bathrooms with two hot showers. The spacious salon has large windows looking out to the water, and the upper wheelhouse provides an excellent place to spot wildlife. There are six double sea kayaks for use in protected waters and a large skiff for shore excursions.

The Snow Goose is outfitted with the curious student of nature in mind, and on board equipment includes a hydrophone for listening to whales, microscopes for examining plants and small organisms, and an excellent reference library. Food on board is largely sourced from local, sustainable, and organic sources, and the Snow Goose chefs bring their creativity and love of food into each dish, from freshly baked scones and frittatas in the mornings to truffle potato cakes, roasted romanesco, and seared local steak topped with smoked salt.

The Snow Goose naturalists and crew are deeply committed to research and conservation, and are focused on taking travelers with curious minds, a sense of adventure, and an appreciation for our awesome planet on cruises through Alaska's Inside Passage.

Related Expeditions