Road Scholar : Home
Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness by Small Ship

Program Number: 20183RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/16/2015 - 5/24/2015; 5/14/2016 - 5/22/2016; 6/4/2016 - 6/12/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Alaska
Price starting at: $6,290.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship; National Parks
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat; Gluten Free    

Discover Alaska’s incredible fjords, islands and wildlife on a small ship expedition — the best way to experience the Last Frontier up close. Encounter brown bears foraging, eagles soaring overhead, whales lunge-feeding and tons of ice thundering from a glacier. Accompanying you is the most knowledgeable expedition team in Alaska including naturalists, a native Tlingit interpreter and a National Park Ranger.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to 1.5 miles at a time on sandy and uneven terrain. Some steep stairs. Many optional opportunities for walks, hikes and kayaking on your choice of a slow, moderate or active pace. Shore landings by expedition landing craft.

Please note that the June 4, 2016 date runs from Juneau to Sitka (see date-specific schedule for details).

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Sitka, Alaska, 1 night (Juneau, AK for June 4, 2016 date); aboard National Geographic Sea Lion, 7 nights.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Days 1-2: Arrival Sitka, Alaska / embark National Geographic Sea Lion:

Walk through Sitka National Historical Park, where totem poles line the trails. Meet eagles up close at the Raptor Rehabilitation Center. Lodging: Comfortable waterfront hotel.

Day 3: Southeast Alaska's Islands, Bays and Fjords:

Set sail on the icy Alaskan waters, voyaging past thickly forested islands. This area is home to the world’s highest density of nesting bald eagles.

Day 4: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve:

In this iconic National Park, find yourself among enormous glaciers and listen as the quiet stillness is broken by the thunder of ice calving into the sea. Wildlife abounds: mountain goats, harbor seals, Steller sea lions and puffins live in these icy waters.

Day 5: Icy Strait and the Inian Islands:

Hike and kayak among the Inian islands, where an abundance of Steller sea lions and sea otters reside. We'll search for whales in the rich waters of Icy strait and, conditions permitting, lower the ship's hydrophone to listen in on the whales' communication.

Day 6: Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait:

With luck, we'll see whales breaching, tail-slapping and feeding. We'll explore spectacular bays and inlets, following bear trails and salmon streams. Later, hike or kayak for up close exploration.

Day 7: Petersburg:

Search for humpback whales as we head towards the small, true Alaskan town of Petersburg on Mitkof Island. Explore an unique Alaskan ecosystem, the “muskeg,” with stunted trees and carnivorous plants. Enjoy a crab feast this evening.

Day 8: Tracy Arm:

Voyage into Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm, spectacular fjords with waterfalls cascading from glacially-carved walls. See the soaring Dawes or South Sawyer Glacier up close and board an expedition craft for an unbeatable view of sculpted icebergs.

Day 9: Juneau / disembark / departure:

Visit the Mendenhall Glacier before transferring to the airport for flights home.

National Geographic Sea Lion

Lindblad Expeditions' nimble, 62-passenger expedition vessel is equipped with kayaks and Zodiacs to let you explore distant shorelines and have up-close views of glaciers and wildlife, as well as underwater cameras and hydrophones to discover the world beneath us. All cabins are on the outside of the ship and feature large viewing windows.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Jerri Roberts

Jerri Roberts has lived in Denali Park in Interior Alaska for 14 years. Her love of nature began at the age of six when she was introduced to national parks, hiking, backpacking and the study of the natural world. For the past four years, working as an Interpretive Ranger in Denali National Park, Jerri has had the opportunity to introduce Alaska to thousands of visitors on discovery hikes, theater, campground and sled dog demonstration programs. Jerri has been an instructor for Road Scholar in Southeast Alaska, the Aleutians, Cordova, and Interior Alaska for eight years. She has a very broad perspective on Alaska’s culture, history and natural history. She was the chief naturalist at the Kantishna Roadhouse and created their training materials. Prior to arriving in Alaska, Jerri worked all over the world in the aerospace and semiconductor industries. She is now a professional copywriter.
Meals and Lodgings
   Totem Square Hotel & Marina
  Sitka, AK 1 night
   National Geographic Sea Lion
  At Sea 7 nights
 Totem Square Hotel & Marina
Type: Hotel
  Description: Totem Square Hotel & Marina is located on the historic Sitka waterfront, where schooners docked two centuries ago. Totem Square Hotel & Marina Inn blends timeless traditions with modern amenities. It is located in Sitka's historic district, a short walk to all the attractions.
  Contact info: 201 Katlian St
Sitka, AK 99835 USA
phone: 866-300-1353
  Room amenities: The hotel has 68 comfortable rooms. Every room has high speed Internet access, cable TV, a radio alarm clock, writing table, coffee maker, hair dryer, and voice mail. All guestrooms are non smoking.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary airport shuttle; wireless Internet access (WiFi); Business Center with two workstations, printer, copier and fax services; exercise facility; guest laundry on first floor (laundry soap and fabric softener are available for purchase at the gift shop in the lobby); snack center with a microwave, single use dishes and utensils provided free of charge.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Contact hotel for rate Summer is a busy time of the year so reservations need to be made far in advance if you plan to arrive early or stay after the program.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 National Geographic Sea Lion
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The National Geographic Sea Lion is scaled to cater to small groups and to be in harmony with the environment, carrying a maximum of 62 passengers. It can access areas that larger boats cannot and carries a fleet of versatile expedition landing craft and sea kayaks for up-close shoreline exploration.
  Contact info: Lindblad Expeditions
96 Morton St
New York, NY 10014 USA
phone: 888-773-9007
  Room amenities: Air Conditioning: The ship is air conditioned throughout. Each cabin has its own thermostat, allowing you to control the temperature level in your cabin. Cabin Amenities: Shampoo, shower gel and lotion are all available in cabin bathrooms, as well as an Expedition Essential Kit with SPF 15 lip balm and hair dryers. Cabin Keys: Lindblad does not issue keys to the cabins on this vessel as they have always operated with a no-key policy on this ship. Cabin doors may be locked from the inside, however. Electrical Current: Each cabin is equipped with 110 volt (standard American-style) outlets. Electric razors, hair dryers and other small appliances may be used in cabin outlets. Please note that the electrical current is sometimes uneven, so we suggest you use a surge protector if you have one for your computer or other sensitive equipment. Smoking: Smoking is allowed only in designated outdoor areas. Smoking is not permitted in guest cabins.
  Facility amenities: National Geographic Sea Lion features an open bow and sundeck for gathering to watch for wildlife Bar: A variety of beverages are available for purchase including wine by the glass or bottle, cocktails, specialty drinks, and spirits. There is also a 24-hour self-service beverage station with coffee, tea, soft drinks, water, ice, and snacks. Bridge: The is operated with an "open bridge" policy and you are welcome on the bridge at the discretion of the watch officer. Please note that there may be times when the bridge is restricted to shipboard personnel only. Fitness area: A variety of exercise equipment is located in the open air of the sundeck. Several pieces of cardio equipment are available. LEXspa: Massages, body treatments, natural facial treatments, and hand and foot treatments are all available. You will have the opportunity to sign up for treatments once on board. Library: Includes a wide range of history and natural history books on the area as well as games, novels and puzzles. Lounge: Forward on the main deck where the bar, internet kiosk and library are located. Sundeck: Morning stretch classes are held in the open air of the sundeck, located aft on the bridge deck. After stretch class the deck is set with tables and chairs, and lounge chairs.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Showers only.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
SITKA, ALASKA: Hotel check in begins at 3:00 PM. Program registration begins at 6:00 PM. Dinner is scheduled for 6:30 PM, followed by orientation. You will be staying at Totem Square Hotel & Marina that night.
  End of Program:
JUNEAU, ALASKA: Disembark the ship after breakfast. A city tour of Juneau is scheduled before the group transfer to the airport at approximately 12:00 PM. You will be staying at National Geographic Sea Lion the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Bring your America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass - Senior Pass (or Golden Age Passport as it was formerly known) if you have one. If you are a U.S. citizen, you will not need a passport for this voyage. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact the U.S. consulate or embassy nearest you and obtain a U.S. visa, if one is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking may be available at the start or end locations but most participants will fly to the program.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sitka, AK
  Nearest highway: Alaska Marine Highway Ferry. No land connection.
  Nearest airport:  Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT)
  From End of Program
  Location:  At Sea
Travel Details

Sitka, AK


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
Totem Square Hotel and Marina
phone: 907-747-3693


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


5 minutes 




2 miles


Alaska Airlines has regular service into the Sitka area. The Totem Square Hotel and Marina provides complimentary airport transfers – meeting all Alaska Airlines flights. Look for the shuttle at the airport. Totem Square Hotel and Marina: Toll free: (866) 300-1353; local: (907) 747-3693


Juneau, AK


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


The group will transfer to the airport after a city tour of Juneau in the morning, arriving at the airport at approximately 12:00 PM. Please do not schedule your flight earlier than 2:00 PM if you plan on taking the group transfer.


Port in Juneau, AK


To Airport




Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 


The group is scheduled to disembark the ship at 8:30 AM. If you need to go directly to the airport for a flight departing before 2:00 PM (missing the city tour of Juneau) a taxi will be required (at your own expense). We firmly suggest scheduling flights AFTER 10:00 AM.

Driving Directions
  Sitka International Airport 1. Head southeast on Airport Rd toward Charcoal Dr 0.6 mi 2. Continue onto Harbor Dr 0.8 mi 3. Turn left onto Harbor Rd 0.2 mi 4. Turn right onto Lincoln St 213 ft 5. Take the 1st left onto Katltan St 423 ft 6. Continue onto Katlian St Destination will be on the left
Equipment Requirements: Waterproof knee-high rubber boots with a strong non-skid sole. Some of our landings by expedition landing craft will be wet- onto a beach or low jetty. Waterproof pants and a waterproof jacket are also strongly recommended. Please see the packing list for a complete list of recommended equipment. Boots can be rented from the cruise line (for a fee) for the duration of the program: or 1-877-284-0406 to make arrangements. Boots must be reserved online or via phone 14 days prior to cruising. Boots will be delivered and picked up on board the ship.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive in Sitka, Alaska
(Saturday, May 16)
 Arrive To: Flights arrive in Sitka, Alaska. Using the hotel's complimentary shuttle, you will be transferred to the hotel.
 Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar desk to register with the program staff and pick up your arrival packet with your name tag, the up-to-date schedule and other important information we will review during orientation following dinner. If you arrive late, please pick up your packet at the front desk.
 Dinner: In the Road Scholar meeting space, enjoy dinner with your fellow participants. Dinner will include a salad, entree, vegetable, starch, dessert, coffee or hot tea.
 Evening: Following dinner we will introduce everyone, review the daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Then, take some time to settle in, relax and get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Accommodations: Totem Square Hotel & Marina
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Arrive in Sitka, Alaska / Embark Ship
(Sunday, May 17)
 Breakfast: In the group meeting space; to include fruit, cereals, yogurt, steel cut oats, toast, fruit juice, coffee or tea.
 Morning: This morning we will gather in Road Scholar's meeting space for a lecture on Russian American history. Following the presentation, we'll take a coach to meet eagles up close at the Raptor Rehabilitation Center whose mission is to provide medical treatment for injured bald eagles and other birds with the goal of returning them to nature. Discover native Tlingit history with a walk along the totem lined forest trails of the Sitka National Historic Park.
 Lunch: On your own with some time to explore Sitka. Most points of interest are within walking distance of each other.
 Afternoon: Meet your Road Scholar staff at a pre-determined location for a field trip to the Russian Bishop's House and St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral, followed by a short walk to board the National Geographic Sea Lion.
 Dinner: The chefs aboard the ship use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible, including locally grown produce, sustainable catch king salmon, local halibut, and other indigenous products. By adding local flavors to the menu, they provide a greater sense of the cuisine and culture of Southeast Alaska.
 Evening: After dinner, taking advantage of longer daylight hours, there will be an opportunity to go back ashore for a walk through town.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Southeast Alaska's Islands, Bays and Fjords
(Monday, May 18)
 Breakfast: Served aboard the ship, buffet style with an array of fresh fruits and fresh juices.
 Morning: Today we let nature be our guide. Depending on weather conditions and tides, the ship has the flexibility to take advantage of what comes our way. Beachcomb, hike forest trails and explore by kayak (weather permitting), a region with perhaps the world's highest density of nesting bald eagles.
 Lunch: Lunch will include fresh vegetables, and often fish as well as vegetarian items. The ship’s staff maintain always-open stations for coffee, tea, soda, and water. Each room has a refillable water bottle with water stations on the ship to fill them as needed.
 Afternoon: Continue exploring Alaska's islands, bays and fjords, always watching for marine and terrestrial life as we go.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: We'll recap the days events and Road Scholar staff will provide an evening lecture.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Icy Strait / Inian Islands
(Tuesday, May 19)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Hike and kayak among the Inian islands, where playful sea otters reside and Steller sea lions swim. In Icy Strait we'll search for whales in these rich waters and if weather permits listen for the sounds of whales via hydrophone as they communicate under water.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: Continue exploring Point Adolphus and Inian Pass. If we stop for some hiking, we will always have a few varieties of hikes, from leisurely paced to medium to fast. Options will be outlined and described by the program staff before your excursions begin.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: After our evening recap, sit back and enjoy the sights of the area.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Glacier Bay National Park
(Wednesday, May 20)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: In Glacier Bay, enormous glaciers flow from ice fields. Listen as the quiet stillness of the area is broken by the thunder of tons of ice calving into the sea. Search for brown bears on the hillsides, as well as mountain goats scaling the rocky peaks. Harbor seals, Steller sea lions and puffins may be seen as well. A Tlingit interpreter will also be on board to give the local cultural perspective.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: We'll spend the entire day amidst the coves, fjords, tidewater glaciers and majestic mountains of Glacier Bay National Park.

Taking photos is easy with the onboard photo instructor assisting with camera settings and the basics of composition, helping you become a better, more confident photographer.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: We'll gather each evening for discussions of the days activities and to share stories of our experiences. Some evenings we will have a lecture by onboard staff, discussing the history and culture of the area we are visiting.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Frederick Sound / Chatham Strait
(Thursday, May 21)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: These waters are prime areas for both orca whales and humpback whales. With luck, we'll see whales breaching, tail-slapping and feeding as the onboard naturalists discuss what you are viewing. The still waters are excellent for kayaking and allow up close exploration of the spectacular bays and inlets. If weather allows we'll go ashore, hiking along quiet forest trails.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: Continue exploration of Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait. With a special use permit in Tongass National Park, on most days we'll have opportunities to hike and kayak in pristine wilderness.
 Dinner: Aboard the ship.
 Evening: Onboard staff will offer a lecture discussing the natural history or culture of the area.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Petersburg
(Friday, May 22)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Search for humpback whales as we head towards the small, genuine Alaskan town of Petersburg, on Mitkof Island. Known as Alaska's little Norway, it was founded more than 100 years ago by Norwegian fishermen. While in town explore a unique Southeast Alaska ecosystem, the 'muskeg' with stunted trees and carnivorous plants. There will be opportunities to explore on your own, take an optional flightseeing trip, or rent some bikes to explore the area.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: Continue north exploring Alaska's coastline.
 Dinner: Enjoy a Dungeness crab feast this evening.
 Evening: The ship's open bridge policy provides guests with an opportunity to learn about navigation. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity when possible to see the waters from the viewpoint of the Captain!
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Tracy Arm / Ford's Terror Wilderness
(Saturday, May 23)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: Voyage into Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm to see spectacular fjords, with waterfalls cascading from glacially-carved walls. Experience the soaring Dawes or South Sawyer Glacier up close via expedition landing craft providing unbeatable views of sculpted icebergs.
 Lunch: Aboard the ship.
 Afternoon: Continue exploring the Alaskan coastline.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner on board the ship
 Evening: Spend the evening discussing the areas we have visited and your favorite experiences as we enjoy each others company on this final evening together.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Juneau / Disembark
(Sunday, May 24)
 Breakfast: Aboard the ship.
 Morning: After breakfast, visit Mendenhall Glacier as well as an opportunity to explore downtown Juneau. This glacier set in the Mendenhall Valley is located just 12 miles from downtown Juneau. After our morning activities we will transfer to the airport for flights home.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Sitka, AK Charter fishing
World class salmon and halibut fishing on a chartered boat with all gear provided. Non-resident fishing license may be purchased from captain. A list of charter operators can be found online. For additional information, visit
9 holes in a fantastic setting. Rentals available. For additional information, visit
There are hiking trails easily accessed from downtown Sitka. Maps are available.
Local rentals of sea kayaks and gear. They provide basic safety lessons and guides if needed. For additional information, visit
Three museums are located in Sitka: Sitka National Historic Park (concentrating on the local Tlingit culture); Sitka Historical Museum (concentrating on Sitka after purchase) and Sheldon Jackson State Museum (concentrating on the native cultures of all Alaska). For additional information, visit;
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Author: James Michner

Alaska Mammals

Author: Alaska Geographic

Alaska Trees and Shrubs

Author: Les Viereck

Alaska's History: the People, Land and Events of the North Country

Author: Harry Ritter

Description: This is a small, easily readable "digest" of Alaska's history. It is great for a quick overview and it is a good size for tucking into a suitcase or reading on a plane.

An Alaska Anthology: Interpreting the Past

Author: Edited by Stephen w. Haycox and Mary Childers Mangusso

Description: This anthology is a compilation of essays by noted Alaska historians, geographers and naturalists and is easy to browse and read in small segments. The essays cover Alaskan history from the days of Russian-American Company domination to the threat of nuclear testing by the Atomic Energy Commission and provide an understanding of the events, themes and those involved in the development of the state.

Guide to Marine Mammals of Alaska

Author: Kate Wynne

Description: This book covers all 29 marine mammal species of Alaska. Each whale, porpoise, dolphin, seal, sea lion, walrus, sea otter, and polar bear is described and illustrated. Color photos and surface profile drawings show all Alaska marine mammals and compare similar species, and color range maps show distribution.

Guide to the Birds of Alaska

Author: Robert Armstrong

Description: This comprehensive guide provides the most current knowledge about the birds in Alaska.

Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast

Author: Hilary Stewart

Nature of Southeast Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals, and Habitats

Author: Robert Armstrong

Roadside Geology of Alaska

Author: Cathy Connor

Description: Alaska is a mosaic patchwork, a collage of continental scraps swept in from the Pacific and added, one after the other, onto the far northwest corner of the continent. Here are the rocky foundations of Alaska, every bit as exotic as the landscape they support, just as varied and vital as the people who live in that landscape. Due to the rugged terrain and limited road access, this is not just a "roadside" book--it describes the geology of southeast Alaska as one might see it from the observation lounge of one of Alaska's comfortable ferries traveling the marine highway.

The Island Within

Author: Richard Nelson

Description: Richard Nelson a Sitka resident is recognized as one of the nation's best known nature writers. This is his account of his exploration of an unnamed Alaskan island which causes one to think about our own relationship with nature, and the importance of observing and participating in nature with reverence and a sense of wonder.

The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush

Author: Pierre Berton

Description: In 1897 a grimy steamer docked in Seattle and set into epic motion the incredible succession of events that Pierre Berton's exhilarating The Klondike Fever chronicles in all its splendid and astonishing folly. For the steamer Portland bore two tons of pure Klondike gold. And immediately, the stampede north to Alaska began.

The Sea Runners

Author: Ivan Doig

Description: In this timeless survival story, four indentured servants escape their Russian Alaska work camp in a stolen canoe, only to face a harrowing journey down the Pacific Northwest coast. Battling unrelenting high seas and fierce weather from New Archangel, Alaska, to Astoria, Oregon, the men struggle to avoid hostile Tlingit Indians, to fend off starvation and exhaustion, and to endure their own doubt and distrust. Although fictional it is based on an actual incident in 1853.

Tlingit Tales: Potlatch and Totem Pole

Author: Lorie K. Harris

Description: Legends of the Tlingit people.

Travels in Alaska

Author: John Muir

Description: Take a trip to last century's Alaska through Muir's clean, easy-going, enthusiastic prose. He wrote the way he took pictures, with insight, attention, care and genuine feeling.

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