Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, Whittier, Anchorage and Katmai National Park
Day 1 – Depart Vancouver/Seattle
Day 2 – At sea
Day 3 – Ketchikan
Alaska’s “First City,” the first port of call on many cruise itineraries, is Ketchikan. A former timber town rich in Alaska Native culture and arts, Ketchikan offers plenty to do whether you’re there for a day or a week. During your day in port, plan to spend at least four hours on a bear viewing tour to see black or brown bears feeding on salmon in nearby streams and creeks. Popular destinations for bear viewing include Neets Bay and Fish Creek, both of which are accessible via short flights in a floatplane. On the way to your bear-viewing destination, you’ll enjoy the spectacular scenery of Misty Fjords National Monument and the Tongass National Forest.
Day 4 – Juneau
Alaska’s capital city boasts close proximity to Admiralty Island, sometimes referred to as “the fortress of the bears” due to its high concentration of coastal brown bears. Tour operators in Juneau whisk guests over to the island to experience Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area, where bears are visible feeding on salmon at the mouth of Pack Creek or from an observation tower along the creek. Jointly managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, there are plenty of naturalists on hand to keep things safe and informative at Pack Creek.
Day 5 – Skagway
You’ll step back in time to the era of the Klondike Gold Rush in Skagway. Skagway’s downtown has been restored to conjure the hard drinking, fast living boom days of 1898, when thousands streamed through town in hopes of striking it rich in the gold fields. Consider a scenic rail tour, learn to gold mine, have a drink in an old-time saloon and explore the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
Day 6 – Glacier Bay National Park
You’ll cruise through Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve to enjoy the spectacular scenery and abundant glaciers – not to mention tons of wildlife. Humpback whales, orcas, sea birds, sea lions, and many other critters occupy the waters. Keep your eyes on the shoreline for the opportunity to spot bears meandering the rocky beaches. You might be lucky enough to see a mystical “glacier bear.”
Day 7 – College Fjords and Whittier
This scenic final day at sea will take you through College Fjords and its dozens of glaciers en route to disembarking in Whittier, where you’ll board a train and head to Anchorage. The train travels along Turnagain Arm, and you’ll have the chance to spot Dall sheep on the mountains above you, and Beluga whales in the water below.
Day 8 – Anchorage and Katmai National Park
In Anchorage, cap off your bear viewing extravaganza by booking a day trip to Katmai National Park and Preserve to watch bears feeding on salmon in Brooks Falls. An experienced pilot and guide will escort you to the carefully managed bear viewing area, where boardwalks and viewing platforms allow guests to get stunningly close to the bears as they gorge on salmon, play, fight for turf and feed their cubs. After a full day of mind-blowingly close proximity to giant brown bears, you’ll return to Anchorage, from which you can fly home or continue your Alaska adventure.