Our first full day in Southeast Alaska began with quite a magical start! As we cruised through the forested Sergius Narrows, we spotted a humpback whale bubble-net feeding in Peril Strait. Humpback whales spend all summer long feeding in Alaska, and we all spent the morning oohing and aahing as we enjoyed watching the whale use this unique feeding technique to catch herring. In the afternoon, we rode Zodiacs ashore to explore beautiful Ushk Bay. We wandered through a meadow sprinkled with wildflowers, crossed creeks in our muck boots, and began exploring the temperate rainforest. The typical Southeast Alaska rain showers rolled in as we ended our hikes, and we were happy to head back to National Geographic Venture for an evening of cocktails, dinner, and a presentation on the temperate rainforest we had just explored.
National Geographic Quest
Wakeup calls came early for guests and staff aboard National Geographic Quest this morning. With fog and a storm in the forecast, it was decided by the expedition leads to begin our operations early in the morning. This was a decision to make the most of weather conditions, tides, and circumstance. Early risers scarfed down their breakfasts and rode Zodiacs through the fog to George Island, where groups dispersed for a variety of hikes. Some groups moved swiftly across the island, while others slowed down to explore tide pools and hear about the history of the island, a strategic point during the World War II era. After two rounds of George Island jaunts, intrepid souls stormed the cool waters of a granitic stone beach. This was our polar plunge, an event we aim to make happen during each voyage. After a quick turnaround and brunch, two rounds of Zodiac tours took off for the Inian Islands. The Inians offer some of our most memorable excursions. It’s a jam-packed ride, and cavorting, curious Steller sea lions and rafts of sea otters were the highlights. Cold and wet, guests embarked and took warm showers before many made their way to the lounge. By this point of the voyage, friendships amongst former strangers have formed, and the lounge was alive with conversation, laughter, and games amongst the groups of kids. Just as the ship made its way into Glacier Bay National Park, naturalist Alex gave a presentation on his specialty, birds. The timing was intentional; we were on our way to Marble Island, where groups of puffins, guillemots, and murrelets greeted the group. With birds on our minds, a humpback whale made a series of full breaches before dinner as we continued towards Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. Cruising through the fog and drizzle, spirits remained warm and eager for what awaited us around the next bend of the fjord. Photo caption and photographer: Zodiac driver Kerry takes a break under an umbrella from the atmospheric rain that fell on Southeast Alaska today. This rain is why we have the temperate rainforest that we explored throughout the trip. Photo by Alex Krowiak