I had long thought about a cruise through the Inside Passage of Alaska, but a large cruise ship did not appeal. I wanted to see wildlife and experience the land more up close. Don't remember exactly how I came across the expeditions offered by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions, but that seemed perfect. Small ship (62 passengers, zodiacs tours and kayaking available) that would be able to go places big ships could not, and staffed by naturalists who would teach us about what we saw. I did not hold my breath for the weather, but now living in a sunny and dry climate, I felt I could put up with a week's worth of rain.
This vacation was more than I had dared hope. I will not gush too much, but we have had some awesome vacations and this one ranks right up there. Great ship, wonderful outings on land and sea, learned a lot, fantastic weather. It only rained once, during our first dinner. And incredible food, and lots of it. Ate (local) fish every dinner, and gained 5 pounds. That's probably the desserts.
We were asked what we felt was the highlight of the trip, and frankly neither one of us could choose. We saw whales, orcas, bear (from shore as well as on land), deer, sea lions, otters, harbor seals, porpoises, bald eagles, tufted puffins, mink, to name some.
Glacier Bay National Park was breathtaking, the Dawes Glacier awesome; there is too much to mention or to include pictures. I am posting just a few, but we will be making a separate vacation book of this trip, including the daily expedition reports filed by the naturalists and the annotated map. Dan and I combined our pictures (about 1000) and have brought them down to about 300 favorites. We will need to make a slide show for friends of about 50 representative pictures so nobody will fall asleep on us. It is going to be tough. What an awesome vacation.
Here is one of our zodiacs in front of Dawes Glacier, viewing some harbor seals.