On this beautiful morning in the Alexander archipelago, the National Geographic Sea Bird navigated into Freshwater Bay, at the northern end of Chichagof Island. Before breakfast, as the bridge officers brought us closer to our anchorage, we noticed the breaths of distant whales. As we carefully approached, we observed two distinct whales, and upon further observation concluded, they were a calf/cow pair of humpbacks. As the vessel floated, the whales came close to the bow, and many guests enjoyed a great sighting of the beautiful creatures.

Our morning operations were divided between two rounds of kayaks and Zodiac cruises. Kayakers enjoyed excellent surface conditions, almost zero wind and some sun poking through the clouds. Some of the kayakers were able to observe various sea creatures, including the moon jelly and lion’s mane jelly.

After scouring the shorelines, the Zodiac folks were pleasantly surprised by multiple sightings of coastal brown bears in Pavlov Harbor. During one sighting, a mom and two cubs were seen walking along a shoreline. Soon after, two bears were seen fishing for salmon in the stream below a waterfall. In a second sighting, the three bears were all seen catching and eating fish together as a group. It appeared as if the mother was teaching her cubs how to fish. Almost no words were exchanged in Zodiacs because staff, crew and guests were all so focused on observing the fascinating behaviors of the bears. Overall, it was a spectacular morning.

While we enjoyed an excellent lunch prepared by our talented galley and served by our friendly stewards, the bridge officers navigated about 15 nautical miles around the corner to the Iyoukeen Peninsula. We then shuttled to the shore and stepped onto a glorious sand beach. From there we split up into a variety of hikes, some focused on natural history, others on photography, and even a bushwhack hike to satisfy the more adventurous amongst us.

Back on the ship, some guests participated in the famed “Polar Plunge” which involved a quick jump off a Zodiac into the cold water. Meanwhile, the dry guests on board cheered on from the stern.

It was a fantastic day overall, and a great end to our week’s adventure in Southeast Alaska.