2019 Glaciers, Whales and Bears Photo Tour

  • 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.

  • Glaciers, Whales and Bears

    This trip offers a combination of stunning scenery and wildlife. We will photograph dramatic active tidewater glaciers. Time will also be spent photographing humpback whales, black and brown bears, eagles, sea otters, harbor seals and possibly even mountain goats and orcas. No two days will be the same.

  • 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. (Single occupancy $8575.00)

  • May 22-30, 2019
    Juneau to Sitka
    – FULL

The Tour

Ron is super excited to be offering this unique and intimate Alaska photo tour in Southeast Alaska. 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, and we can help you with those plans.

Your adventure will begin with a welcome dinner in Juneau the evening of May 22, 2019.  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 beautiful part of Alaska. 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.

This trip offers a combination of landscape and wildlife photography options. The last three years we have photographed bubble net feeding humpback whales – an amazing sight to witness. We have also had up close photo opportunities with orca’s, brown bears, sea otters, steller sea lions and bald eagles. Plus many other birds and mammals. This trip is also about amazing landscape. Guests have captured dramatic photographs of giant pieces of ice calving off an active tidewater glacier as well as rich, lush rain-forest coastlines.

We think the timing in May is perfect, the stunning peaks will still be loaded with snow, 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 usually experience several rafts of Moms carrying their newborn pups. Harbor seals, harbor porpoise and sea lions are common sightings as well. 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 are just a few of the birds we typically see.  Not to mention bald eagles actively tending to their nests.

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

On our way to Sitka we pass through Chatham Straight we will be on the watch for whales and bears. All the while surrounded by spectacular scenery.

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 and photographing; 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.

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.