Sample Itinerary – Sitka to Juneau

Alaska’s outer coast to the Capital

With a colorful past that blends native Tlingit culture with Russian history beautiful Sitka is well worth exploring before you join us aboard Discovery. Once onboard we’ll explore Alaska’s coastal islands and inner channels and navigate the infamous Sergius Narrows to Frederick Sound where Humpback Whales congregate each summer. We’ll explore inlets on Baranof and Admiralty Island, search for Brown Bear and visit the fjords and glaciers of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness Area. 

Overview

  • Sitka – Russian history & native culture
  • Sea Otter and coastal islands
  • Sergius Narrows & scenic waterways
  • Humpback whales, Orca, Sea Lion rookery & more
  • Brown bear viewing on all trips
  • Hike in a temperate rain forest
  • Visit a natural Hot Spring
  • Fish for Salmon & Halibut
  • Anchor in secluded bays
  • Full day exploring spectacular Fjords & tidewater Glaciers
  • Trip begins in Sitka and ends in Juneau, AK (or reverse itinerary)

Route Map

Watch for marine life!

“Discovery’s cruises are highly opportunistic and can be interrupted at any moment by Humpback Whales, Orca (Killers Whales), Dalls Porpoise and other marine wildlife.

Depending on the encounter and the desires of the group we may stop for twenty minutes, an hour or the whole afternoon!”

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>> 2018 Cruise Schedule

>> 2019 Cruise Schedule

Things to do in Sitka

Picturesque and rich in Russian history it is worth spending a day or two Sitka before or after your cruise.

  • Historic buildings & galleries on Lincoln St.
  • Totem Park & ocean side trail
  • Alaska Raptor Center
  • St. Michaels Cathedral
  • Sheldon Jackson Museum
    (Native art and Russian artifacts)
  • Dine at Ludvigs Bistro. A popular place for dinner but make a reservation, the locals like it too!

Day 1 – Into the Wild

Picturesque Sitka is the heart of Russian influence in Southeast Alaska and lies nestled beneath the sharp granite peaks on Baranof Island’s western shore. With Mt Edgcombe, an extinct volcano, to the west the journey begins as we cruise into Salisbury Sound.

Sea Otter are commonly seen floating around the kelp beds and rocky shoreline and watch for Brown Bear, Bald Eagles and Sitka Black-tailed deer on shore. We’ll wind our way through a myriad of islands into Olga and Neva Straits and anchor this evening in a protected cove on the northern shore of Kruzof Island.

Day 2 – Sergius Narrows to Hoonah Sound

This morning we have the option of hiking Sea Lion Cove Trail (or part thereof). Moderately difficult this trail traverses a variety of Alaska’s diverse ecosystems (grassy meadow, beautiful old growth forest, lake and muskeg) before emerging onto a two-mile long sandy beach at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Alternately, the foreshore and meadow attract Brown Bear and Bald Eagle and is a great place to spend time beach combing and taking photos.

Outside of the inlet is a good fishing spot and time/weather permitting we may try to hook a Salmon before cruising on through Sergius Narrows. This exciting 30-mile long passage between Baranof and Chichagof islands is only 300 feet wide at its narrowest point with whirlpools and a rushing tide.

Todays destination is a bay in Hoonah Sound. Once anchored guests can help the crew drop crab pots, go kayaking, drop in a line for Halibut or just relax on board.

Day 3 – Peril Strait to Chatham Strait – Watch for Whales!

Enjoy a cup of coffee and a leisurely stroll on deck. You can help the crew pull up Dungeness Crab pots or watch the skiff return with the days catch. Sit down for breakfast as the crew pull anchor and we get underway.

Watch for whale spouts as we cruise down Peril Strait. The protected waters of Chatham Strait to Frederick Sound comprise the summer feeding grounds of more than 300 Humpback Whales and also support Orca (Killer) Whales, Dalls Porpoise, Stellar sea lion and a variety of sea birds.

Chances of encountering Humpback and Orca Whales are high in this area and whale watching is likely to take up part of our day.

We may fish for Salmon or Halibut at one of our secret spots, watch as commercial fishing boats haul in their nets or tour a Salmon Hatchery. Our anchorage tonight lies tucked beneath towering snow-capped mountains.

Day 4 – Baranof Island – Natural hot springs, hiking and the Captains favorite bay

We’ll make the short hop south today to the Baranof Hot Springs. Guests can opt to soak in a private tub or follow the short trail through lush rainforest to a natural hot spring beside a roaring waterfall. For the energetic the trail continues on to a clear mountain lake and/or a small bluff overlooking the bay. In mid-summer you can collect wild blueberries and salmon berries as you make your way back to the boat.

Discovery’s creative Chef will have a delicious lunch prepared as we cruise south to one of the Captain’s favorite bays. This inlet is serene and beautiful with many twists and turns and guests usually gather on the bow to fully absorb the mystical waterfalls and tall mountains reflected in the calm waters below.

Watch for Bald Eagle, curious Harbor Seals and Brown Bear foraging along the waters edge as we enter the bay. With 2 rivers at its head this bay it a great place to explore by skiff or kayak.

Day 5 – Frederick Sound – Summer feeding grounds of the Humpback Whale

Keen kayakers have time for a paddle before breakfast then we’ll pull anchor and pick up the shrimp pot that was set last night. With no binding agenda today we will cruise around the southern tip of Admiralty Island into Frederick Sound. The scale of Alaska’s inside passage is evident as we cross this expansive body of water. Watch for the tell tale spouts of Humpback and Orca whales and Sea Otter bobbing in the swell.

We may have time to fish for Halibut before dropping anchor in a pretty cove on Admiralty Island. With the densest population of Brown Bear in the world this island (& bay) is another good place to search for Brown Bear and depending on guests desires we can explore the creek and foreshore by skiff or go for a short hike.

Day 6 – Admiralty Island (Fortress of the Bears) to Endicott Arm / Fords Terror

Crossing Frederick Sound to the east we’ll pass the Brothers Islands. A narrow spit of land is exposed at low tide and we may spend a couple of hours clamming and exploring tide pools before cruising towards Five Finger light house.

We’ll pass a Sea Lion haul out this afternoon and watch their raucous interactions. Then there is time to relax as we follow the mainland north to the majestic twin fjords of the Tracy Arm / Fords Terror glacial region.

Late afternoon we will cross the bar into Endicott Arm and catch the 20 minute tidal window into Fords Terror. Once we slip into this narrow fjord the rest of the world is forgotten as you stand in awe of the incredible forces of mother nature. MV Discovery is one of the few small cruise ships to navigate the swirling, shallow entrance of Fords Terror and spend then night in this dramatic wilderness.

Day 7 – Fjords, Glaciers & Icebergs

Today we will cruise the length of Endicott Arm beneath sheer granite walls with cascading waterfalls. We’ll navigate our way between glittering blue icebergs in the hope of reaching the massive face of Dawes Glacier, a tidewater glacier that calves regularly into the sea. Keep a look out for Bear, Mountain Goats, Bald Eagle, Harbor Seals with pups on icebergs and their nemesis the Orca (Killer) whale.

This afternoon its a scenic cruise to Taku Harbor where guests have one last opportunity to kayak and/or explore an abandoned fox farm, dock pilings and rope swing before a celebratory dinner to cap off an amazing week.

Day 8 – Return to Juneau and disembark

Its the final morning and a short 2 hour cruise into Juneau where we aim to be docked (after breakfast) by approximately 10am.