Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Salish Sea and San Juan Islands

    After more than 1,700 nautical miles through southeast Alaska and along the coast of British Columbia, the National Geographic Sea Bird and our ship’s company have reached the final underway leg of this southbound voyage. The scenery has been moody but breathtaking; the First Nations cultural sites, arts displays, and community visits inspiring; the wildlife abundant and ever-dynamic. We sailed the Strait of Georgia during the morning, cleared United States customs in Friday Harbor, and continued on overnight to our last port, Seattle.

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  • Seymour Canal and San Juan Islands

    We bid a sad farewell to the northern passages, but look forward to a joyous welcome home as we cruise south along the eastern seaboard of Vancouver Island and head into the Salish Sea of Washington State.  Merry travelers cruise along the same passage as we, waving and smiling as they sail by.  We enter into US customs and the safe moorage of Friday Harbor well after noon, anticipating a leisurely landfall and stroll through the town.  All we have seen and learned about our marine mammal friends who have accompanied us on many parts of our voyage are re-capped at the Whale Museum, where we contemplate our own impact on the marine highways and bi-ways that we have sojourned for the past two weeks.

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  • Butedale & the Inside Passage of British Columbia

    The morning began early with a call to wake, for just as the sun was cresting the surrounding mountains, the humpback whales were already busy gathering their pre-dawn meal. Even before the sun gave our cameras enough light to play, we watched them fly their tails toward the sky and exhale with a cacophony of sound. The light played red in the sky, and we stayed with them until we moved south through the weaving pathways that British Columbia provides. Arriving at Butedale, a former cannery and local stopover for post office and other needs, we witnessed a mighty waterfall pouring down from the out of sight lake. Tomorrow provides another enriching cultural experience, allowing today to be one of reflection.  

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  • Alert Bay and Johnstone Strait

    We found a warm welcome in Alert Bay.  A stroll along the quiet waterfront or a short shuttle ride took us to see the excellent collection at the U’mista Cultural Centre, followed by traditional dance, and a feast of fresh salmon and fry bread with jam made from local berries. An afternoon in the sunshine with cavorting killer whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins, great talks, and a movie rounded out a perfect day in British Columbia.

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  • Alert Bay, British Columbia

    Our expedition in Alert Bay, the cultural and artistic home of the traditional Kwakwaka’wakw people started with a beautiful sunrise over the surrounding islands. After breakfast, we visited the ‘Namgis Burial Ground, a cemetery filled with colorful totem poles that mark the gravesites of generations of Kwakwaka’wakw Chiefs and family leaders. We then took a scenic stroll along the waterfront to visit the U’Mista Cultural Center. Our two guides provided in-depth explanation of cultural dances and the traditional carved, painted masks (on display) that have been worn by performers for decades. This tour was the perfect introduction for our next excursion – a special privilege to witness the Kwakwaka’wakw dances in their local Big House.

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  • Queen Charlotte City, Haida Gwaii

    Today, guests of the had the privilege to visit the Haida Heritage Center near Queen Charlotte City, Haida Gwaii.  The heritage center houses an incredible collection of past and present Haida art and culture, including a carving shed where a totem pole was being carved by artisans in the community.   After lunch, guests were able to stretch their legs on a hike up to the scenic Spirit Lake before boarding our trusty ship to cross the Hecate Strait back to the mainland of Canada.

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  • Inside passage, British Columbia

    From sunrise to sunset, today was a glorious, cloudless day of cruising the inside passage of Canada.  Whales, waterfalls, and wilderness were the themes of the day.  We certainly enjoyed the warm weather and calm seas for exploring this wild coast.

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  • SGang Gwaay

    Walking on boardwalks and green paths lined with clamshells on the island of SGang Gwaay, we were led by watchmen on a journey into the past. This is a sacred and spiritual place. SGang Gwaay is the only example in the world of a traditional northwest coast First Nations village site with standing poles. House pits with corner posts still intact set the scene as we learned about the Haida way of life and family structure. Bright sunlight illuminated intricate carvings on memorial poles that have survived fire, wind, and rain; emphasizing the great skill necessary to create lasting works of art.

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  • Old Massett, Haida Gwaii

    This morning our earliest wake-up call yet comes at one AM: a gentle announcement of northern light activity! The rest of the day is filled with visiting the artistic and cultural treasures of this wonderful island. 

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  • Georgia Strait and the Gulf Islands

    The Gulf Islands are just a bit north of America’s San Juan Islands. Sitting in the rainshadow of the Olympic Mountains, this area gets severely less rain than its western sister islands, but remains cooler in the summer and winter than the San Juans. These islands are geologically of interest – they are made of sandstone that has been folded over itself and lifted out of the sea.

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