Cruise through Alaska's legendary Inside Passage surrounded by some of the most dramatic and wildlife-rich scenery on Earth; a perfect combination of natural and cultural history...
Travel though awe-inspiring ice-capped waters; take a gentle float trip through an eagle preserve; enjoy wildlife and canoe safaris, wilderness kayaking, a sled dog experience, scenic rail journeys, and opportunities to view orcas, seals... and just possibly, the ever-elusive bears. Days are diverse, including visits to a Gold Rush city, an ancient Indian village, and Sitka National Historic Park. Your 7-night cruise aboard the luxurious Le Soléal offers all outside staterooms, a choice of dining spots, all-day complimentary beverages and more. And enjoy a Tauck Exclusive special presentation on all departures! Chris Morgan – wildlife researcher and TV host – shares insights, observations and stories on Alaskan grizzly bears and conservation efforts. Space is certain to fill quickly – make your reservations early!
Tour begins: 3:00 PM, Vancouver. Arrive in Vancouver by 1:00 PM. A transfer is included from Vancouver International Airport or the Vancouver Pacific Train Station to the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal. Board your handsome yacht, Le Soléal no earlier than 3:00 PM. Dinner is served onboard as you get to know your fellow guests.
Cruising the coast of British Columbia
Spend a full day aboard your handsome yacht heading north in Canada’s Inside Passage. As you wend your way along the serpentine line of glacier-forged fjords at the foot of the mountains edging British Columbia, you’ll pass the Great Bear Rainforest; miles of untouched wilderness; the 1918 ghost town of Butedale (weather permitting); and, if you’re lucky, whales, dolphins, and sea lions. Today is also the perfect opportunity to enjoy the many comforts and amenities aboard Le Soléal, including a lecture by our Tauck Naturalist and time to enjoy the Spa. All restaurant and bar drinks are complimentary, including wine, beer, and spirits. Cap off your first day at sea with the captain’s Welcome Dinner tonight.
Totem poles, rainforests & more in Ketchikan
Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska, nestled on the bluffs of the southwestern coast of Revillagigedo Island. Founded as a salmon cannery site and once known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” this lively port boasts historic Creek Street, lined with an engaging mix of galleries, restaurants, artisan shops, and bookstores. Drive to Saxman Native Village, home of what may be the world’s largest collection of standing Native American totem poles – each a story unto itself. Get to know more about tribal traditions – and maybe learn a few dance steps – in the clan house. Alternatively, you can take a short drive up the coast to rustic Herring Cove for a tour by a local naturalist at the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. Walking the trail through this dense forest of hemlock, spruce, and Alaska cedar, with its mossy floor, berries, and wildflowers, gives you a chance to spot the local residents, including flocks of singing birds. Then it’s on to the historic Herring Bay Lumber Company sawmill to meet a master totem carver, and see eagles and other birds of prey up close at the Alaska Raptor Center. Or drive up the coast to George Inlet Lodge and take a catamaran cruise to crab pots in fjords throughout the Mahoney River Valley; pull up the Dungeness crabs (with help from volunteers), then return to the lodge for a crab feast. Or choose instead a kayak excursion to the Eagle Islands in Tongass Park, keeping an eye out for bald eagles, seals, jumping salmon, and, when tide conditions are right, sea stars. Lunch aboard ship, then spend free time in Ketchikan before sailing for Sitka.
Embark on a wildlife quest
In Sitka today, join us onboard an Alaskan-built expedition tour vessel designed to navigate Southeast Alaska's narrow island passages for a 3-hour cruise that pretty much guarantees wildlife viewing. You'll have an opportunity to observe sea otters, whales, sea lions, porpoise, harbor seals, brown bears, blacktail deer, bald eagles and a variety of marine birds, as an onboard naturalist explains the workings of the remarkable ecosystem found here. You’ll also learn about the sea otters’ recovery, following their near-extinction at the hands of Russian fur hunters in the early 1800s. Afterward, return to the ship for a presentation by an award-winning TV host and wildlife lecturer. Sail the fjords of Endicott and Tracy Arm.
Cruising Endicott Arm fjord
Hit the decks with your camera ready for one of the highlights of your cruise in the Inside Passage: a day sailing in the Endicott Arm Fjord. The drama of its sheer cliffs and towering waterfalls is rivaled only by the massive chunks of ice scattered across the water, like so many ice sculptures. Calved from the glacier at the head of the fjord, they come in every shade of blue and white – some even seem fluorescent. Don’t be surprised to find families of seals sunning themselves on the ice – and noting your arrival with interest. Also keep an eye open for orcas and, on the rugged cliffs that rise up from the water, mountain goats. You will take it all in while cruising aboard the yacht, and get an insider’s view of this special corner of the wilderness from presentations by Tauck’s onboard naturalist.
Gold rush Skagway, White Pass railway & sled dogs
Awaken in Skagway to a day steeped in Gold Rush lore, and a choice between five different sightseeing activities. The first choice is an opportunity to explore the National Landmark District of Skagway and White Pass. Take an antique streetcar tour of the frontier city and a round-trip excursion by vintage train to White Pass Summit, an elevation of 2,885 feet; following the original White Pass trail, hear stories of brave fortune-seekers pursuing their dreams in the wildest of the Wild West as you travel through an arresting terrain of mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls so challenging that it’s hard to imagine how anyone ever survived to reap a golden reward. Second choice is a scenic drive from Skagway by way of a 4x4 truck and a customized summertime dog sled for a memorable ride to a dog musher's camp near Dyea flats with an opportunity to play with the puppies. Third choice is a drive to Canada's Yukon territory for lunch at the Caribou Crossing Trading Post, with visits to the native village of Carcross, the Wildlife Museum, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Center in Saskatchewan, and the Dog Musher's Village, where mushers train their dogs for the Yukon Quest dogsled race. From here, you'll board the historic White Pass Scenic Railway for your return trip to Skagway. Fourth choice is a rail journey to White Pass Summit, continuing to Fraser, British Columbia, and the Yukon Suspension Bridge; catch the scenic South Klondike Highway for the return trip, with a stop for lunch at Jewell Gardens on the site of a historic pioneer farm. Fifth choice is Glacier Point Wilderness Safari aboard a vessel designed for viewing marine life (possibly whales and sea lions) to a remote beach at Glacier Point, then paddling a canoe across an iceberg-studded lake to the face of a glacier for a one-mile hike. All shore excursions return to Skagway; in the afternoon, experience the city as you please. Sail for Haines tonight.
Eagle refuge, ancient Klukwan & more in Haines
Anchor in Haines, dress warmly, and pack extra socks for a day that starts with a drive along Haines Highway – a National Scenic Byway lined with deep green rainforest and snow-topped mountains – past Fort Seward and up the Chilkat River to the Alaska Chilkat Eagle Preserve. Within the preserve is the Tlingit village of Klukwan where you’ll take in a tribal performance and gain insights into local culture and customs. Tour a traditional longhouse; a salmon smokehouse and drying house; and a shed where artists deftly wield a Stone Age tool called an adze to carve totems and canoes. Then board a zodiac for a gentle ride through the preserve – the largest concentration of bald eagles in the world; the river is filled with salmon, one of their favorite snacks. Or take a narrated drive through Fort Seward and the Chilkoot Valley, home to brown bears, mountain goats, river otters, and bald eagles; the area is a birdwatcher's paradise, and the Chilkoot River is the best bear watching in Alaska. Or see downtown Haines and Fort Seward, then go kayaking on Chilkoot Lake (no experience necessary), or embark on a wildlife safari by motorized canoe, exploring inlets, coves, salmon spawning streams, and waterfalls with expert naturalist guides who enjoy sharing their love and knowledge of the Alaskan wilderness. Alternatively, hike with a naturalist guide along the Chilkat Inlet at Chilkat State Park, where you'll be treated to magnificent glacier views across the fjord. Wildlife sightings are common, so be sure to bring your camera and a keen eye! Afterward, spend an afternoon pursuing your own interests – enjoy lunch on the ship or spend time exploring Haines. You might want to poke around the shops, or check out the Hammer Museum, “the world’s first museum dedicated to preserving man’s first tool, the hammer.” Join us this evening for the Captain's farewell reception.
Tour ends: Juneau. Disembark this morning in Juneau. Tauck will provide transfers from Le Soléal to Juneau International Airport or to your post-stay hotel. Flights should not be booked earlier than 11:00 AM. Allow at least two hours for flight check-in.