Cruise Southeast Alaska - Whales, Bears & Glaciers

Small Ship Cruising in Alaska....Beyond your Wildest Dreams!

Experience Southeast Alaska as few can ever do! Watch humpback whales in Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait, see brown bears, float among icebergs as a glacier tumbles into the sea and see totem poles from ancient cultures. These 9-11 day adventures aboard our small-ships in Alaska are comparable to no other Alaskan experience. Step away from the Cruise ships and get up close to nature aboard Bluewater Adventure's Island Odyssey and Snow Goose.

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Natural History

Guest in front of LeConte Glacier
See Southeast Alaska! One-fifth the size of the continental United States, Alaska has the highest coastal mountain range in the world. Over one-half of the world’s glaciers cover these mountains and Alaska is one of only three places in the world where tidewater glaciers exist. Wildlife abounds with whales, bears, moose, and eagles. Heavily forested, with over three million lakes, Alaska is a vast, beautiful and truly wild place. Southeast Alaska (the “Panhandle”) is the jewel in Alaska’s coastal crown. Sail Southeast Alaska and enjoy Its warm climate and abundant wildlife.

Most of Southeast Alaska is part of the Tongass National Forest – the largest National Forest in America – and managed by the US Forest Service. A National Forest, by definition, is managed for mixed-use – recreation, forestry, wildlife and ecological values. Historically, Forest Service management of the “Tongass” has been surrounded by controversy. Large scale forestry and clear-cut logging (visible from miles away) conflict with the wilderness values that bring visitors from around the world. Bluewater Adventures in an equal opportunity provider and holds a permit for the US Forest Service to clients in the Tongass National Forest

Trip Highlights


Glaciers / Icebergs

Spectacular Humpback Whales in Frederick Sound 
High concentration of Bald Eagles
Admiralty Island National Monument Totems
Brown & Black Bears - Anan Wildlife Observatory
Mothership Kayaking on Snowgoose


A glacier is a vast accumulation of snow and ice slowly flowing downhill from a mountain ice field. Continuously flowing downhill, it scrapes the earth, picking up rocks and sediment and slowly forms deep, U-shaped valleys. Glaciers that advance far enough eventually reach the sea, and are called tidewater glaciers. They break off, or calve, directly into salt water. All glaciers are in a constant state of change caused by increases or decreases in precipitation and temperature. When the accumulation of snow is greater than the amount lost to melting or calving, the glacier advances. If accumulation is less, the glacier retreats – leaving behind land as raw as the beginning of time. Most of the glaciers we will see stem from the massive Stikine Ice Field, sitting high in the Coast Mountains, east of Petersburg and Wrangell.

Baranof Hot Springs Guest jumping into water Snow Goose


Alaskan Wildlife, Brown Bears - Photo by guest, Andy Wright   Bubble net feeding with humpback whales in Frederick Sound
 Photo by guest, Andy Wright    
Alaska is one of the few refuges left in North America for the grizzly or brown bear. On Admiralty Island, it is calculated there is one brown bear every square mile – almost as many bears as there are eagles. Some of the larger islands in Southeast Alaska have only brown bears – black bears and wolves having been relegated to the mainland by a peculiarity of glaciation. Every spring bears leave hibernation and feed on the new vegetation growing around waterways. By midsummer, when the salmon start to spawn up the many creeks, the bears congregate for the easy fishing and ripening berries. At Anan Creek, it is possible to view both black and brown bears. To see bears fishing for salmon in a rushing river is truly one of the classic Alaska sights.

Orca whale in the Alaska Pacific Ocean
  Marine Mammals
One of the principal focuses of this trip will be the observation of marine mammals, and specifically humpback whales. The humpbacks winter in the warm waters of Mexico and Hawaii, to mate and calve, feeding rarely. Every summer they migrate north to feed on herring and tiny krill, that blossom with the sunlight. Up to 100 humpback whales gather to feed in these rich northern waters. Once one of the most abundant whale’s worldwide, humpback whale populations suffered tremendously under whaling, and are now on the endangered list. One of the larger whales, humpbacks grow to 50 feet in length and 45 tons in weight. The sight of 45 tons of whale launching itself right out of the water – a behaviour called breaching – is truly an amazing spectacle seen above.

Aboard small ships in Alaska, see Killer whales! Killer whales or Orcas are now divided by whale researchers into three types. ‘Residents’ travel in large groups and eat mostly salmon. The second group, called ‘transient’ whales, travel alone or in small groups, and hunt other marine mammals. A new group, termed ‘offshore whales’ by whale researchers has recently been discovered in outer waters of the coast. Another highlight is Dall’s porpoise, which often come over and play under the bow. Steller sea lions haul out along the rocky shores. Males can weigh up to 2000 lbs.

Native Culture

Totems in Alaska - Photo by Bruce Whittington
Photo by Bruce Whittington

The islands of Southeast Alaska are home to three linguistic groups of native people. An Alaska nature cruise is a great way to see the culture on the coast. The Tlingit are the largest group, historically inhabiting most of what is today the “pan-handle”. The Tshimshian lived along the rivers, such as the Skeena - the  arteries of trade into the interior mountains. The Haida people originated on the Queen Charlotte Islands, but moved north to inhabit the southern “pan-handle” in recent times. Each group holds in common similar traditions - the carving of totem poles, the great longhouses, and the potlatch ceremony. Some of the old villages are still inhabited.

Sail to destinations like the Tlingit communities of Angoon and Kake, and the Haida village of Kasaan. Other sites have been abandoned for the forest to reclaim. In the larger communities we can see some of the finest totem poles, moved from the old villages for safekeeping. As magnificent art, they still captivate the observer. There are fascinating petroglyph (rock carving) and pictograph (rock painting sites throughout the area.

Bluewater Adventures is an equal opportunity provider and is a permit holder of the Tongass National Forest.

Bluewater Adventures trip brochure for the Southeast Alaska

Southeast Alaska - Trip Brochure

Download Now!  Download your 4-page brochure on Southeast Alaska
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This brochure highlights the wildlife, culture and more...

Getting to AlaskaAirlines:

Alaska Airlines          1.800.426.0333
Air Canada               1.888.247.2262 (For Prince Rupert)

There are daily flights to all major communities in Southeast Alaska. Most flights originate in Seattle. Advance purchase ticket prices range from $400-$550 round trip from Seattle. It will cost the same one way to one town and return from another as it would to fly round-trip. If you are making your reservation online with Alaska Airlines, please click on the "multiple destinations" icon for the best fares.

Alaska State Ferry   1.800.642.0066

This ferry services all larger communities in Southeast Alaska, Prince Rupert (BC) and south to Bellingham, WA. One can travel as a foot passenger. There is an additional charge for a berth or a cabin.

Major Cities:


Places to stay in Petersburg range from the classic to the unique B&B's. There are traditional hotels and motels in and around town along with cabins and hostels. Princes range from $60 per night to $200 + a night. The most efficient and fun way to view places to stay is online@ under the business link. Of you do not have an Internet connection, you can contact the Visitor Center 907.772.4636

Places to stay in Juneau are abundant. There are approximately 53 places to stay from the busy downtown are to the more quiet outskirts of town. On average, B&B's are a higher cost than hotels/motels. All of Juneau's lodging has taxi or shutle service. If you are leaving on an early flight, ask how far they are from the airport. Check out under the accommodations links for more details. Or contact the Visitor Center @ 1.800.587.2201

This seaside community is known for its unique and cozy accommodations. Places to stay range from B&B's to cabins to traditional hotels/motels. To view information about accommodations, restaurants and attractions in Sitka, contact the Visitor Information Centre at 907.747.59470 or online @ for more details.

Prince Rupert, BC:
Air Canada provides daily service between Vancouver and Prince Rupert.  The Prince Rupert Airport is located on Digby Island. Access is only by ferry and shuttle bus between the airport and downtown locations. The shuttle service and airport ferry take about 1 hour. Please allow plenty of time for airport transfer. The following link will provide you with the shuttle bus schedule. - Subject to change. Contact airport before departure.