Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands

    Continuing with the fantastic weather theme of this southbound cruise from Sitka to Seattle, we enjoyed another idyllic, sunny day in the charming coastal town of Friday Harbor.  Many pleasure boats docked at the marina and a seafood market was busy selling Dungeness crabs and fish.  Known as the gateway to the San Juan Islands, we walked around Friday Harbor’s streets, visiting small colorful shops, and the historic whale museum. We learned about the stresses on orca populations and several guests commented on how fortunate we have been in seeing these remarkable animals among the many other incredible opportunities we have had the last 2 weeks. We returned to cruising the calm, glassy waters of Puget Sound searching for wildlife.  We spotted harbor seals resting on the alga covered rocks and rhinoceros auklets (also called unicorn puffins) were seen diving into the water as the vessel approached.  The expedition leader Rab Cummings and Captain Thomas Morin shared their final thoughts summarizing what a remarkable journey we have experienced together.

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  • Wallace Island, British Columbia

    This morning we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and went to Wallace Island for kayaking and hiking. It was an all-around great day.

  • Alert Bay, British Columbia

    We woke to an overcast, blue-tinted morning with a lone humpback whale feeding near National Geographic Quest’s bow.  Flocks of surf scoters flew passed the vessel while low-lying, wispy clouds hung in the mountains surrounding Cormorant Island.   The clouds parted with a shining sun soon after docking at Alert Bay and we visited a cemetery with colorful memorial totems for prominent First Nations chiefs and matriarchal leaders.  We had a pleasant walk along the bayfront seeing bald eagles resting on pilings, and great blue herons wading on the shoreline as we stretched our legs on our way to the U’mista Cultural Center. 

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  • Khutze Inlet, British Columbia

    This morning we awoke to the pitter-patter of steady rain upon the decks of National Geographic Quest. As we made way towards the small encampment of Butedale, the rain began to falter. We eagerly watched the shoreline, saving our attention for wildlife which might make its appearance.

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  • San Juan Island, Washington state

    Today we bade farewell to British Columbia and the Inside Passage. We awoke to a morning of fog, rain, and a noticeable increase in ship traffic and radio chatter of ship captains announcing their intention of passage in the narrow lanes. An addition to our morning traffic was a steady stream of sailboats, making good time toward their destinations with main and headsails full of wind. 

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  • Sailing to the Great Bear Rainforest

    Upon entering Canadian waters, guests disembarked National Geographic Quest to explore the beautiful town of Prince Rupert. Guests had a gentle reminder of the enormous tides when they had to hike up the heavy incline from the dock on an extreme low tide.

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  • Friday Harbor

    This morning we awoke to some spectacular vistas through the morning clouds as the bridge team managed the inner waterways from Alert Bay through the Salish Sea. These productive waters are a biological hotspot for marine life, with narrow interconnected inlets and passageways stirring up the water and feeding the aquatic world. As National Geographic Sea Lion meandered through more populated waters, the bridge team had to keep a diligent eye out for many recreational boaters enjoying this beautiful weekend day.

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  • Alert Bay & Johnstone Strait

    Continuing south through British Columbia, National Geographic Sea Bird transited Queen Charlotte Sound overnight to arrive at Alert Bay, Cormorant Island. Initially built as a fishing community, the town is presently home to most of the ‘Namgis tribe, Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations. Our visit began in the community’s 1,000-person-capacity Big House adjacent to the world’s tallest totem pole. Among carved figures of whales, eagles, and bears, with wood fire smoke drifting skyward, dancers of all ages—from toddlers to elders—shared traditional potlatch songs and stories. In First Nations culture, it was not how much a person had that defined their status and wealth, but rather how much they gave away. We were truly honored to receive the gift of this experience and ensuing conversations with children and dancers.

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  • Rudyard Bay - Mistry Fjords

    Today we spent our day surrounded by, and in awe of, the natural beauty of Misty Fjords National Monument. In the wee hours of the morn we made our way into Rudyard Bay. There, we strained our necks up the steeping granite walls which disappeared into the mist and clouds above. Once we reached the end of the fjord, we were greeted by a mother brown bear and her two cubs of the year. We deployed our Zodiacs, spent our time exploring this area and watched National Geographic Quest make its way through Owl Pass.

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  • Grenville Channel to Green Inlet

    National Geographic Sea Bird sailed through Grenville Channel and by the shores of Princess Royal Island, home of the spirit bears. Our first stop was the former cannery site of Butedale, named by the Scotsman John Wallace after his hometown. Next, we anchored in the British Columbian Marine Park of Green Inlet where we cruised the shoreline looking for bald eagles and taking in views of the beautiful waterfalls that line the mist-covered hills and mountains.

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