Ocean Cruise Expeditions

In the Wake of the Pioneers

  • Duration 15 Days | Nome, Alaska to Vancouver
  • From $13,880 AUD
Call 1800 889 088

Trip Overview

PONANT invites you to follow the steps of trappers and gold miners in Alaska, during a 15-day expedition voyage aboard L’Austral.

From Nome to Vancouver, discover a remote territory still unknown and wild, landscape from wide spaces to gigantic glaciers, steep mountains, infinite tundra and glittering lacs.

During your trip, discover the unique wildlife at some of the sites that have marked the history of Alaska.

Your ship will first sail along the Bering Strait, before heading south to reach the lush lands of Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. During your Zodiac® outing in Geographic Harbor, you could get the chance to observe a few grizzlies on the prowl, roaming around the stunning landscapes of Katmai National Park.

Further east, succumb to the charms of the forests and beaches in Hoggatt Bay, where you’ll find a concentration of the beauty Alaska has to offer.

Then, set off to meet the whales and other marine mammals in Alert Bay, in British Columbia, before making your way to Vancouver, your disembarkation port.

Subject to ice and weather conditions. The expedition highlights and itineraries described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.

Trip Highlights

  • Shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with your naturalist guides.
  • Hiking opportunity.
  • Visit traditional villages and encounter the Aleut people.
  • Landscapes: fjords, tall mountains, huge glaciers, primary forest, jagged cliffs.
  • Wildlife: brown bears, walruses, Arctic terns, grizzlies, musk oxen, whales and orcas.

Itinerary - 15 Days

Day 1 NOME, ALASKA

Embarkation from 16H00 to 17H00 . Departure at 20H00.

Located along the Bering Strait at the westernmost point of Alaska, Nome offers the rustic charm of a former gold-mining town, set in the middle of magnificent wilderness. As you weave in and out of the brightly coloured houses, you will discover the pioneering legacy that still marks local traditions. Fishing, reindeer rearing, sledge-racing ヨ people here live from their manual labour. The surrounding plains provide stunning vantage points for observing Arctic fauna.

Day 2 SAVOONGA, ALASKA

During one of your Zodiac® outings, we invite you to discover the village of Savoonga. Located on St. Lawrence Island, at the southern entrance of the Bering Strait, it provides a great glimpse into the lifestyle and traditions of the Yupik people. You will probably be greeted by a number of smiling villagers, happy to spend a few hours with you. Savoonga’s 800 inhabitants mainly subsist on walrus and bowhead whale hunting. Traditional singing and dancing are also part of daily life for the villagers, who are masters at the art of walrus tusk sculpture.

Day 3 ST MATTHEW ISLAND

Saint Matthew island is right in the middle of the Bering Sea, between Siberia and Alaska. Classified as a National Wildlife Refuge by the United States, this island covered in wet tundra corresponds to the northern boundary of the polar bear’s range during winter. It is home to many birds, including the McKay's bunting, an endemic species whose population is estimated at 6,000 individuals. We can also find Arctic foxes there. Although populated by the Aleut during prehistoric times Saint Matthew Island is uninhabited today.

Day 4 SAINT GEORGE ISLAND

Located in the middle of the Bering sea, Saint-George Island is the second biggest island of the Pribilof archipelago. A special atmosphere emanates from this landscape of volcanic craters and tundra: wild lands surrounded by a sumptuous coastline of majestic cliffs. You may very well spot some migratory birds that come and settle here all year round, making this a perfect place for observing many different species. Fur seals, also called Pribilof seals, have made this haven of peace their home with its rich biodiversity.

Day 5 DUTCH HARBOR, UNALASKA

During your cruise, discover an exceptional site: Unalaska Island and its port, Dutch Harbor. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, on the Aleutian Islands, Dutch Harbor is the only deep water port in the archipelago. As for the island itself, it offers you unique landscapes: volcanic summits swept by the wind and surrounded by the sea, lush green valleys, sometimes covered with bright summer flowers, sometimes with deep winter snow… Unalaska is not only an island with astonishing nature and very varied wildlife, it is also rich in history, where ancient indigenous cultures and remains from World War II can be seen and their tales be told.

Day 6 UNGA ISLAND, ALASKA

After a short Zodiac® journey between the rocks in the company of your naturalist-guides, you will land in a former village of which many vestiges remain: run-down wooden houses scattered around a flowery meadow, a church with crumbling walls but a roof that still stands, a cemetery… Originally called Ougnagok by the Aleuts, this small hamlet, which was home to some 100 inhabitants in the 19th century, was renamed Delarof, after Evstratii Ivanovich Delarov. While working for the Shelikhov-Golikov Company, he was the first Greek mariner to discover the Aleutian Islands. These days, this small ghost-village now overrun by willowherb is called Unga.

Day 7 GEOGRAPHIC HARBOR, ALASKA

Here you are in the heart of Katmai National Park and Preserve. Here, the rocky cliffs are punctuated with white marks. These are the remains of ash deposits that accumulated following a volcanic eruption in the past. Board your Zodiac® and, a little further south, explore every part of Geographic Harbor and its tall cliffs covered in vegetation and plunging into the sea. Along the sandy beach, grizzly bears improvise hunting sessions, in search of fish and clams. In the thickets, these omnivores eat berries, roots and grasses. Brown bears are at home here and the presence of humans doesn’t seem to disturb them. This makes for a fascinating and unforgettable show.

Day 8 AT SEA

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observer marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 9 SITKA, ALASKA

Formerly a Russian colony located on Baranof island, to the west of the Alexander archipelago, Sitka is brimming with history. The historical national park of Sitka shelters totems carved out of red cedar, a tree that is omnipresent in the region. These totems are testimonials of the former presence of Tlingit Indians. This place is full of natural wonders too. You just have to look up to admire the mountain range around the port. In the distance, the snow-peaked Edgecumbe volcano stands majestic. Numerous islands scattered around Sitka stretch out before you in a vision of preserved Alaska.

Day 10 HOGGATT BAY, ALASKA

Situated on Baranof Island, Hoggatt Bay’s landscapes are exactly what most people expect to see on a picture-postcard of Alaska. Surrounded by mountains, it is home to very dense forests where the vegetation is subject to the evapotranspiration phenomenon (emission of water vapour resulting from evaporation and plant transpiration). In this enchanting setting, some grizzly bears feast on seaweed, shellfish and even grass that they find along the beaches, while others prefer simply to fish for salmon in the river.

Day 11 PRINCE RUPERT

Wild and extraordinary, Prince Rupert is a dynamic town where the open spaces are “larger than nature”. Located on the remote Kaien Island, off the coast of British Columbia, this little town founded in 1910 witnessed the history of the North West Pacific with the birth of American Indian nations, such as the Haida and Gitksan. During this port of call, make a point of admiring its grandiose landscapes where more than 300 pairs of bald eagles have made a home here; its picturesque residential districts where the sea mist often lingers; and its famous Museum of Northern British Columbia, home to a large collection of ancient totems.

Day 12 AT SEA

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observer marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 13 ALERT BAY

Right near the north coast of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, hides the small wooded island of Cormorant. Surrounded by pebble beaches, it offers wonderful opportunities for hikes and for whale watching. The surrounding waters are also home to harbour seals, orcas, Steller sea lions, dolphins, and a multitude of seabirds. When your ship calls at Alert Bay, a small sheltered fishing port located in the island’s south, set off to discover the indigenous culture and its traditions. The ‘Namgis community, which is part of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations, lives here in harmony with the other village inhabitants.

Day 14 SEYMOUR NARROWS

Your ship will sail along Discovery Passage, between Vancouver Island and Quadra Island. As the channel tapers, you will arrive at Seymour Narrows, a narrow, 5-km long passage which, in the past, posed a significant challenge for sailors. Between 1850 and 1950, some one hundred ships hit the rocks hidden under the water, and the outcome was often fatal. At the time, due to the strong currents that run through Seymour Narrows, it was considered to be one of the most dangerous waterways in British Columbia. But in 1955, the decision was made to blow up Ripple Rock, two submerged rocks responsible for most of the shipwrecks. This historic explosion made access to this passage much safer.

Day 15 VANCOUVER

Verdant and cosmopolitan, Vancouver is one of Canadaメs most multi-cultural cities. Located in British Columbia on Canadaメs west coast, itメs surrounded by mountains and outdoor activities are popular. In the city, you can immerse yourself in the Asian atmosphere of bustling Chinatown, shop for pashminas and silk saris at the Punjabi Market Indian district and explore the historic area of ᅠGastown. Vancouver Art Gallery is known for works by regional artists, while the Museum of Anthropology houses important First Nations collections. Granville Island Jetty is a fascinating revitalised industrial area that hosts galleries, restaurants and a huge produce market.

 

EXTRAORDINARY PARTNERSHIPS

National Geographic Expeditions has carefully chosen world-leading travel partners to create extraordinary travel experiences. Each expedition offers guests our unique access, knowledge and the ability to give back by supporting the National Geographic Society.

Our Ocean Cruise Expeditions are offered in partnership with PONANT. To learn more about the itinerary, explore the PONANT ship or secure your spot, click here.

In the Wake of the Pioneers

From AUD $13,880 Call 1800 889 088

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