Kayak, hike and cruise your way along scenic coastlines, glaciers and icy fjords of Southeast Alaska. Small ship cruising is the ultimate way to experience Alaska. The Pacific Catalyst, specalizing in kayaking excursions, allows for an intimiate look at the marine life and coastal scenery of this unique region. Trek along stunning nature trails and sea kayak with naturalist guides while you spot whales, moose, wolves and a wide variety of Alaska wildlife. Our expditions are the perfect way to get an up-close experience and discover the true beauty of Alaska.
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Glacier Bay Itinerary Overview
Discover the majestic beauty of Glacier Bay National Park and its surrounding areas on a once-in-a-lifetime expedition. Experience the boom and crash of ice at the glacier front while kittiwakes and Arctic terns swirl above, then observe wolves, moose and mountain goats in their spectacular natural habitat. Explore tidewater glaciers and go kayaking up pristine streams where bears forage in the meadows, with our onboard naturalist offering their expert insights during guided hikes.
Accompanied by gourmet cuisine and fine wines, enjoy a front-row seat as the wilds of Southeast Alaska roll by. With the weather conditions, tidal currents and wildlife viewing opportunities determining our course, no two trips are the same, ensuring a unique adventure that will linger long in your memory.
Day 1: Depart Auke Bay & Travel to Glacier Bay
We’ll depart from Juneau’s Auke Bay Marina at 12:30 PM, with passengers invited to board just before. After rounding Point Retreat, the high rise buildings and power lines will fade into the distance to be replaced by glaciers and rafts of seabirds in the surrounding waters. We’ll spend our first night anchored in a quiet harbor just outside of Glacier Bay National Park and embark on our first kayaking excursion into the wilderness.
Day 2 and following: Explore Glacier Bay National Park
Over the next days, we’ll explore the magnificent bays and inlets of Glacier Bay National Park, spending each night anchored in a peaceful, natural setting. Enjoy guided hikes and kayaking excursions led by our onboard naturalist, with the opportunity to learn about the region’s flora and fauna while spotting wildlife from up close and afar. Each trip varies depending on the weather and sea conditions, with some of the highlights including:
- Bartlett Cove/Fingers Bay: Stopping near the entrance to Glacier Bay National Park, we’ll hike the Bartlett Cove nature trail before continuing further into Fingers Bay. Here, we may see bears rooting for fresh food on the beach, as well as a variety of sea birds that flock to the rich waterways of the park.
- Reid Glacier: Having recently grounded out, the Reid Glacier offers the rare opportunity to walk right up to its face. Gain an insight into the unique ice worm and walk to the entrance of the inlet to see the remains of an old mining operation that dates to the early 1900s.
- Grand Pacific and Marjorie Glaciers: A highlight for many guests is the visit to the Grand Pacific and Marjorie Glaciers where you can listen to them cracking and watch their faces calve into the sea with an immense “splash”. Come face-to-face with otters as we explore John Hopkins Inlet and keep your eyes peeled for kittiwakes nesting along the edge of the glaciers. End the day watching the sky transform myriad shades of blue following an unforgettable sunset.
- Wildlife: Glacier Bay’s coves support a stunning variety of plants and animals. Throughout the trip, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a diversity of wildlife, including mountain goats feeding on the rocky ledges and Steller sea lions hauling themselves onto small islands. There is also the chance to see eagles and puffins, as well as humpback whales who come to fish in these rich waters.
Days 7, 8 or 10 (depending on the chosen itinerary): Cruise to Juneau, Travel Home
After an early breakfast, we’ll cruise back to Juneau and arrive around 12 PM in time for your flight connections. Alternatively, you may opt to spend a few days enjoying the many attractions in the surrounding area.
Southeast Alaska’s Eastern Passages Itinerary Overview
Experience the spectacular wilderness areas and charming fishing towns of Southeast Alaska on this seven-day cruise. Discover the diversity of the region as you navigate through ice-filled fjords and visit a tidewater glacier, with the opportunity to go kayaking and hiking along the way. Encounter black bears, mountain goats and bald eagles on land, with sightings of humpback whales, orcas, porpoises and Steller sea lions common in the water.
No two trips are the same, with the tidal currents, weather conditions and wishes of those on board determining the itinerary. The routes and anchorages are selected to offer the best of the available opportunities to experience the majestic wilderness and incredible wildlife encounters this region has to offer.
Day 1: Petersburg-Juneau
Board your vessel at any time from 12:30 PM, with Catalyst being moored either in the South Harbor or North Harbor of Petersburg. You’ll have time to familiarize yourself with the vessel and stow your gear before we begin heading north out of Wrangell Narrows and into Frederick Sound around 1:15 PM.
Enjoy a full lunch on board, followed by an orientation and safety meeting. After a two and a half hour run, we’ll arrive at our first night’s anchorage at Scenery Cove in Thomas Bay. If the tides allow, we’ll take a skiff ride and hike to explore Baird Glacier’s cobbled outwash plain, before an evening spent becoming acquainted with the kayaks.
Day 1: Juneau-Petersburg
Your vessel will be docked in downtown Juneau, with passengers welcome to come on board at 12 PM. Take time to familiarize yourself with the vessel and stow your gear before a brief safety orientation. By 12:30 PM we’ll be underway, heading south down the Gastineau Channel into Stephens Passage. Enjoy a full lunch while getting to know your crew and fellow travelers.
After several hours cruising south, we’ll turn east to enter Endicott Arm where we may encounter our first icebergs of the trip. Our first night will be spent anchored along the shore, just inside the inlet, where we’ll spend the evening listening to wolves howling and watching the spectacular northern twilight set in.
Days 2-6: Explore, Hike, Kayak
Over the next few days, we’ll navigate through ice-filled fjords and visit a tidewater glacier, as well as come face-to-face with brown bears along the shores and (hopefully) humpback whales in the water. We’ll slowly kayak through a narrow inlet that John Muir referred to as an “ocean-filled Yosemite” and follow in the footsteps of bears through estuarial meadows.
It’s important to keep in mind that each trip varies depending on the weather conditions, with some of the highlights including:
- The Brothers Islands: This group of small islands is positioned in the middle of Frederick Sound and is renowned for its sightings of humpback and orca whales. If we do encounter a pod, we will shut down the engines and just drift, watching them as they feed along their annual migration. We’ll eventually drop hook in an idyllic anchorage where we’ll explore a temperate rainforest and fossick for sea creatures in the exposed tide pools. Take the opportunity to go paddling or just relax while listening to the sounds of breathing whales and Steller sea lions.
- Pack Creek: We’ll slowly journey through Seymour Canal, which is home to the highest concentration of bald eagles in Southeast Alaska and a large population of Dall’s porpoises. Our final destination is the Pack Creek Zoological Reserve where brown bears and humans have lived in close proximity for decades. Over time, the bears have become accustomed to the presence of people, making for incredibly special encounters. If we cannot visit the Pack Creek Zoological Reserve, we’ll head to Admiralty Island, which is also renowned for its population of brown bears.
- Wood Spit & Dawes Glacier: Keeping our eyes peeled for whales, we’ll cruise past the terminal moraine of Dawes Glacier and stop to go hiking through this fascinating area. Learn about the unique geology and the indigenous Tlingit culture, as well as the region’s gold rush history. Sightings of deer, wolf and nesting bald eagles are common and it’s a magical place to just experience the calving and booming of the glacier.
- Ford’s Terror: Despite its drama and beauty, Ford’s Terror is a seldom-visited anchorage that’s surrounded by 5,000-foot granite faces draped in mist. We’ll go kayaking through the tidal rapids and into the magnificent inner fjord before hiking through the glacial-carved highlands to view the raging rapids from above.
We’ll then continue our journey out of Endicott Arm while keeping an eye out for moose, wolves, and whales, with the option to go hiking through a meadow that’s inhabited by brown bears. In the evening, we’ll enjoy a final dinner together and reminisce about the week’s adventures.
Day 7: Petersburg-Juneau
Enjoy a leisurely morning on board as we cruise the final stretch into Juneau, arriving in time to catch a flight to Seattle or to explore Alaska’s capital city.
Day 7: Juneau-Petersburg
After a few hours cruising, we’ll arrive in Petersburg, with time to catch the morning flight to Juneau or explore this Scandinavian-inspired fishing village.
Southeast Alaska’s Western Passages Itinerary Overview
Explore the spectacular western passages of Southeast Alaska on this eight-day cruise as you travel through dramatic canyons and wildlife-rich fjords. Revel in the natural beauty in wild anchorages around Admiralty, Baranof, and Kupreanof islands where you can enjoy unique encounters with bears, whales and eagles.
Our onboard naturalist will lead you on guided hikes and kayaking excursions, ensuring you can explore everything this region has to offer from multiple angles. It’s important to keep in mind that the itineraries are highly dependent on weather and tides, with your captain and crew taking advantage of the best opportunities available.
Day 1: Juneau-Sitka
Your vessel will be moored in downtown Juneau near the Mount Roberts Tram base
station, with passengers welcome to embark just prior to our 12:30 PM departure. We’ll cruise south from Juneau down the Gastineau Channel and enter Stephens Passage before reaching Holcomb Bay around 6 PM. Here, we’ll enter the glacial fjord of Endicott Arm and find an anchorage where we’ll hopefully see whales feeding, as well as bears and wolves foraging along the shores.
Day 1: Sitka-Juneau/Sitka-Petersburg
Your vessel will be moored in Sitka Harbor, with guests welcome to board from 10 AM. Sitka was originally settled around 10,000 years ago by the ancestors of the Tlingit people before the arrival of Russian fur traders in 1799. Enjoy a walk through the town to explore its various historic sites before returning to the vessel for a late lunch. We’ll make the short cruise to Krestof Sound where we’ll anchor in time for a pre-dinner kayak.
Day 1: Petersburg-Sitka
Your vessel will be moored in either the North or South Harbor of Petersburg, with passengers welcome to board around noon. We’ll drop our lines shortly after and begin cruising south to Le Conte Bay, which is home to the southernmost saltwater calving glacier in North America. If ice conditions permit, we’ll cruise to within a quarter mile of its spectacular, calving face. After working our way through the ice flows, we’ll anchor in Ideal Cove at around 5 PM, with time for a two-mile walk along the Ideal Lake trail.
Days 2-7: Kayak, Hike, Sightseeing
Over the next few days, we’ll travel through dramatic canyons and fjords, with plenty of stops at beautiful anchorages around Admiralty, Baranof and Kupreanof islands, as well as the chance to go hiking and kayaking. You’ll have the opportunity to see bears, whales and eagles with the help of our onboard naturalist who’ll offer their expert insight into the fauna and flora of the area.
Each trip is unique, with weather and sea conditions determining our final course. Some highlights may include:
- Stephens Passage: Keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale blows of humpback whales and orcas as we navigate these waters before finding anchorage among the small bays and inlets of Admiralty Island. Here, we’ll launch our kayaks and go on the search for brown bears that can often be seen foraging along the shore.
- Warm Springs Bay: After anchoring in the bay, we’ll embark on a trail up to a lake that feeds a spectacular waterfall cascading at the head of the bay. On the return hike, there’ll be the opportunity to bathe in the natural hot pools at the head of the falls before returning to your vessel.
- Freshwater Bay: We’ll anchor in a small cove beside an estuary system that supports a large population of brown bears, with these fearsome creatures gathering here during fish runs. As the salmon return to access their spawning streams, the bears lie in wait for a hearty feed. After exploring the bay by kayak, we’ll anchor our skiff in the stream at the foot of the falls to see this wildlife spectacle in action. It’s an incredible opportunity to observe and photograph the bears as they gorge on this wild food source.
- Baird, Le Conte and Dawes Glaciers: Every expedition will include a trip to one or two glaciers, with each offering something different. Explore the newly foliated outwash plain that’s been exposed by the retreating ice of Baird Glacier’s or cruise along the calving faces of Le Conte or Dawes glaciers.
- Hidden Falls Hatchery: Here we’ll have the opportunity to go ashore and tour the facility, as well as watch brown bears visiting the stream nearby to fill up on salmon for the coming winter. We’ll then continue to Baranof Hot Springs before lunch and have the opportunity to hike around Baranof Lake and enjoy a soak in its hot spring pools. From Warm Springs Bay, we’ll again cross the Chatham Strait and round the southern tip of Admiralty Island to enter Stephens Passage, anchoring in one of the deep bays in time for a pre-dinner kayak and fossick along the edge of the cove.
- Tenakee Springs: This charming village is home to a unique community of homesteaders and vacation homeowners, many of whom were drawn to the region by its mineral hot springs. After exploring in small groups, we’ll return to the vessel and continue to our anchorage for the evening in a sheltered bay near the outflow of a mountain lake. There will be an optional three-mile round-trip walk to the lake before an evening spent under the stars.
Day 8: Juneau-Sitka/Petersburg-Sitka
After breakfast, we’ll make the journey from our final anchorage into Sitka where our naturalist guide will lead you on a tour of the town’s many historic sites.
Day 8: Sitka-Juneau
We’ll set sail from our final anchorage to Juneau after an early breakfast, traveling the length of Stephens Passage before entering the Gastineau Channel. We’ll arrive back in Juneau around 10 AM, in time to catch your early afternoon southbound flight.
Day 8: Sitka-Petersburg
We’ll depart Ideal Cove in the morning, arriving into Petersburg by 9:30 AM for guests to catch the morning flight to Juneau. Alternatively, why not spend a day or two exploring the lively fishing town of Petersburg that’s yet to be impacted by mass tourism.