2021 Alaska Whale, Bear and Glacier Photo Tour – Inside Passage

  • All Inclusive

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

  • Amazing Brown Bears and More

    Visit a number of brown bear hot spots. Spend time in Frederick Sound for some of the best humpback whale viewing in the world. View the tidewater glaciers of Tracy Arm – see everything Alaska has to offer!

  • 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 $7,995 based upon double occupancy. (Single occupancy $8,995)

  • July 14-22, 2021
    July 23-31, 2021
  • 10 spaces available
    4 spaces available

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The Tour

This tour will begin and end in the wonderful Southeast Alaska community of Juneau – 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 July 14/July 22, 2021. The welcome dinner and your hotel room that night are included in your tour package.

This photo tour will visit some of the best brown bear locations in the world, including Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof Islands. Admiralty Island has long been considered to have the highest density of brown bears in the world, and here we intend to visit the famous Pack Creek Bear Observatory. On Baranof Island, we intend to visit a salmon hatchery where many brown bears regularly visit and a place where we have exclusive rights to visit, along with another great location. Finally is Chichagof Island. A bear researcher has recently said that this island has the largest, densest population of brown bears in the world, with bears larger than the famed Kodiak Brown Bear. The captain knows of a couple get spots for bear viewing in this scenic area.

We will explore Tracy Arm and its two tidewater glaciers. This fjord is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Along with the incredible scenery we will visit a Stellar Sea Lion colony.

We will have time in Frederick Sound and Chatham and Icy Straits for some of the best whale viewing in the world, especially for humpbacks. For a few days we will live among the incredible feeding, resting, breaching, lunging, sleeping, bubble-net blowing Humpback Whales. But, Orcas won’t be unexpected. Not only is the whale viewing wonderful, but so is the scenery giving us amazing backgrounds for these magnificent animals.

These are just the highlights. The itinerary is purposely kept open to allow for unexpected events that are often highlights of a trip. Every day will find us traveling through the stunning Inside Passage surrounded by beautiful rain forests. Our evenings 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. I know on a recent overnight trip in the region, I was serenaded by a pack of wolves from the nearby beach!

Gosh, I haven’t even mentioned things like the bald eagles, sea lions, seals – animals that alone would be highlights to a great photo tour.

I thought I had the perfect yacht before, but this one is even better – 50% larger and yet I’m still limiting the group size to 8-10 guests, so we have plenty of room! 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 wildlife and stunning scenery found in Southeast Alaska, specifically the Inside Passage! You will visit and have access to remote black and brown bear viewing areas. As we cruise through the calm waters of the Inside Passage we will be spending time in one of the best whale viewing areas in the world, Frederick Sound. As if that wasn’t enough you will also be spending time with other marine mammals including sea lions, seals and sea otters, not to mention bald eagles.

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.