2018 Glacier Bay National Park

  • All Inclusive

    9 days and 8 nights including 7 nights on a very nice yacht, one night hotel, meals, shore excursions, even wine! Our route will take us from Juneau to Sitka.

  • Glacier Bay, Whales and Bears

    Surrounded by the grandeur of Glacier Bay National Park we will immerse ourselves in this remote and spectacular National Park photographing glaciers and wildlife. We will also spend time in Chatham Straight where we are likely to find humpback whales, brown and black bears.

  • Comfortable Yacht

    Limited to 8-10 guests aboard an 87 foot yacht gives us lots of room! Deck surrounds the entire ship, with most of it covered. Small skiff allows us to get to shore or closer to wildlife.

  • Price

    9 days/8 nights $7,575 based upon double occupancy.

  • May 23-31, 2018
    Juneau to Sitka
  • 1 space available (male only)
The Tour

Ron is super excited to be offering this unique and intimate Alaska photo tour in Glacier Bay National Park. This tour will begin in our state’s capitol, Juneau and will end in the wonderful Southeast community of Sitka. Both offering daily jet service via Alaska Airlines and plenty to do if you want to extend your trip by a day or three.

Your adventure will begin with a welcome dinner in Juneau the evening of May 23, 2018.  The welcome dinner and your hotel room that night are included in your tour package.

The following day you will join Ron aboard an 87’ classic yacht for a rare and intimate photo experience of this grand and spectacular national park; whose beauty is only rivaled by how hard it is to access. But Ron has planned the perfect photography trip for you, making it easy for you to visit and spend time photographing Glacier Bay. Ron likes to keep his groups small and this trip is no exception with space limited to 8-10 guests. So there is plenty of room for photography and relaxing.

To give you an idea of what you can expect on your Alaska photo tour adventure let me capture some of the highlights of a recent 3 day trip spent photographing in Glacier Bay National Park. Our trip started with a jaw dropping display of bubble net feeding with a group of 6-8 humpbacks. Anchorage that night was at the base of a glacier. Early morning light and blue skies offered the perfect conditions for photographing Lamplaugh, John Hopkins and Margerie Glaciers. Anchorage the second night was in a quiet cove where towering mountains gave way to grassy beaches where we watched 2 black bears and 2 brown bears work the beach. The night ended with a spectacular sunset in a spectacular setting.

We think the timing in May is perfect, the stunning peaks of the Fairweather Range are snow capped but the lower elevations are a verdant green. Snow fed waterfalls cascade down the sheer cliffs of the fjords. And wildflowers are not an uncommon sight. The sea otters have given birth and we were treated with sighting several rafts of Moms carrying their newborn pups from the pupping grounds to their summer feeding areas. Harbor seals, sea otters and sea lions were common sightings. If its birds you’re after you will be treated to a wide variety of sea birds. On our trip Surf, White Winged and Black Scooters, arctic terns, kittlitz’s murrelets, black-legged kittiwakes, and pigeon guillemots were just a few of the birds we saw.

There will be opportunities to get off the boat and do some shore based photography. A skiff can also bring us closer to wildlife.

As we sail from Glacier Bay to Sitka via Icy Straight and Chatham Straight we will be on the watch for whales and bears. All the while surrounded by spectacular scenery. On a recent photo trip through this area Ron captured some of his best whale material ever with repeated bubble net feeding and a triple breach!

These are just the highlights. The itinerary is purposely kept open to allow for unexpected events that are often highlights of a trip.  Days will be full exploring Glacier Bay and nights will find us anchored in wonderful protected coves, with the engines off, where we can enjoy the beauty and serenity.  We never know what treats are in store for us. 

Most small ship tours in Alaska have 50 plus passengers – this is a true small ship experience.  But, I will talk more about the vessel later as that really isn’t the main attraction.

The main attraction is our ability to photograph the magnificent scenery and wildlife in Glacier Bay National Park.

The Yacht

Built in 1931, this classic fantail yacht is a beauty.  Do not let the age of this ship concern you, it has been beautifully maintained.  From the Teak decks and Deckhouse to her fine Mahogany paneling she reflects an era long past when craftsmanship meant pride in artistry.  This 87 foot yacht was designed for tours and features 360 degree window views and covered wrap around decks so no matter the weather you can comfortably photograph the wildlife and scenery.  It comes with an experienced Captain, second captain, mate and chef along with Ron as your photography guide.  There is a large dining area with room for all of us, and several nice living areas for relaxing.  Suffice it to say, we will be comfortable.

There is 360 degrees of outdoor viewing areas with most of it covered in case of rain.  The decks are fairly low to the water making it an ideal platform for photography.  In addition, the vessel carries two skiffs for jaunts to shore or for getting a nice low platform for photography.

There is a large dining room with a table big enough for the entire group to sit at for meals or discussion.  In addition, there is a comfortable living room/salon perfect for relaxing and hanging out.  There is an additional salon with a forward view near the bow, and a fantail covered viewing deck on the stern.  We have plenty of room to gather as a group and discuss photography and the days activities, but there is also plenty of room to escape the group to read, download and review images, or just take in the grandeur.

Below deck individual cabins are clean and private and all include a sink and opening porthole.  There are also 3 heads and 2 showers.

The Crew

Calm, competent and adventurous Captain Ben Swanson has a joy for life that is contagious.  He is a passionate naturalist and guide and will take you on a remarkable journey through Alaska in a way that only a long time owner/operator can do.  His accumulated knowledge of wildlife habits and habitat comes from first hand experience and he has many colorful stories of classic yachts and the Alaska of old that make for lively conversation in the wheelhouse, where guests are always welcome.

A second generation Captain and lifetime lover of the water Ben grew up on boats in Washington and Alaska and has been cruising the coastal waterways of the Inside Passage for more than 30 years.  A marine mechanic, electrician and jack of all trades Ben has been full-time Captain and partner in the Discovery since 1998 and took over complete ownership of the vessel in 2010.  Really, I don’t think I could find a captain with more experience in the waters of Southeast Alaska!

Photography Guide, Ron Niebrugge is a long time Alaskan who has been making his living as a professional photographer for more than a decade.  He has made numerous trips to Southeast Alaska during the last 12 years, and has been living and photographing the Alaska coast for more than 20 years.  Ron’s experience as a photography guide includes his own tours in Alaska as well as being hired by other tour companies for expeditions to Antarctica and trips within Alaska.  Although Ron will be shooting alongside you, he will be available to make suggestions on technique, exposure and composition, and will provide additional instruction and critique during down time aboard the vessel.

A second captain, chef and deck hand will round out the crew.