No, we don't mean 11 AM. This sighting actually occurred at around 4 PM. We are using the on-board terminology that relies upon the hours of the clock to indicate direction. While you can't actually plan to see Orcas, Les Flâneurs were lucky enough to have that experience while visiting Glacier Bay aboard The Wilderness Adventurer on the UnCruise line.
Since their focus is on active adventure, we found UnCruise to be the perfect fit with our worldview on Purposeful Wandering. The ship and its crew are in constant search for the next sighting of wildlife and run an expert itinerary of sights to see. The Wilderness Explorer is a smaller ship, which accommodates only 50 guests. As a result, they are able to enter bays that the large cruise lines can only dream about. (Actually, the large cruise lines don't care about getting into the smaller bays. They just want you back at the gaming tables to generate more on-board revenue.)
The daily itinerary typically includes both a power skiff tour of a remote bay as well as either a kayak outing or hike on the shore. This is not a trip for couch potatoes. Not surprisingly, we found most of our fellow guests to be, well, Flâneurs! Over the course of the 7 day cruise, we were able to spend time with all 27 of them. While these meetings were often over the sumptuous meals, we were also able to share our adventures in the sea and on the land!
On our first day, we visited Endicott Arm and the fabulous Dawes Glacier, one of several tide water glaciers in the area around Juneau. As you can see from the photo, a tide water glacier is where a glacier comes into direct contact with the tides. (Duh. I know. Right?) The turbulence of this interaction creates both an incredible verticality, where glacier meets tide, and also generates many ice bergs. To give you some sense of scale, this glacier is more than 1/4 mile wide and as much as 150 feet tall at the waterline. That black spec in the water near the center is the other skiff from our ship.
We saw bald eagles, brown bears, sea otters and over 25 species of birds.
Our days were filled with incredible experiences that ranged from whale sightings during lunch and dinner, to the signature Slippery Silver Otter beverage, served on a chunk of glacier ice.
We also visited Dundas Bay, Keku Islands, Bartlett Cove, Frederick Sound, Pavlof Harbor, Margerie Glacier and Lamplugh Glacier. We snorkeled and dove into the 33 degree waters.
We witnessed rainbows, octopi, and incredible comaraderie.
While its a bit hard to see, in the shot on the right above, 3 new friends are watching a group pf Dall's Porpoises frolic in the bow wake of The Wilderness Adventurer. At their left is a TV screen image from the bow camera of the porpoises in the water. This is but one of many magic moments on the trip!