Fire and Ice in the Arctic

Ship_Tile_LeBoreal-LAustral-LeSoleal
Le Boreal ✧ L'Austral ✧ Le Soleal
250 Passengers

An unforgettable expedition cruising between Russia and the United States from Nome to Seward. You will have the chance to sail in the Bering Strait and discover extraordinary landscapes combining ice, volcanoes, and tundra dotted with the ephemeral flowers that bloom during the Arctic summer.

This is also a wonderful region for wildlife observation. Listed with UNESCO, the nature reserve on Wrangel Island is a unique ecosystem where the greatest biodiversity in the Arctic can be found. It is home to a large population of walruses, countless sea birds, and of course the lord of the Arctic: the polar bear.

We will then make our way up the Alaska Peninsula, an emerged part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Here, each island is a volcano crowned with ice. The Aleutian Islands form a barrier between the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean, so the marine wildlife here is particularly abundant.

As you sail off Kodiak Island and along the Katmai Peninsula, feast your eyes on the grizzly families and delight in photographing them.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Nome / Crossing the Date Line
Day 2 Provideniya, Bukhta
Day 3 Big Diomede / Cape Dezhnev
Day 4 Kolyuchin Island
Days 5 to 7 Krasina Bay / Wrangel Island
Day 8 Cape Vankarem
Day 9 Penkigney / Yttygran / Provideniya, Bukhta
Day 10 Crossing the Date Line / Savoonga
Day 11 At Sea
Day 12 Saint Paul Island, Pribilof
Day 13 Dutch Harbor, Unalaska
Day 14 Chankliut Island
Day 15 Geographic Harbor / Hidden Harbor, Kinak Bay
Day 16 Holgate Glacier
Day 17 Seward - Disembarkation

Day 1 — Nome / Crossing the Date Line

Located along the Bering Strait at the westernmost point of Alaska, Nome offers the rustic charm of a former gold-mining town, set in the middle of magnificent wilderness. As you weave in and out of the brightly colored houses, you will discover the pioneering legacy that still marks local traditions. Fishing, reindeer rearing, sledge-racing, people here live from their manual labour. The surrounding plains provide stunning vantage points for observing Arctic fauna.

Your itinerary enables you to cross the International Date Line. This imaginary line across the Earth’s surface approximately follows the 180th meridian in the Pacific Ocean. Because of the roundness of the Earth and the necessity of having reference time meridians, we have to change dates when we cross this line. So if your ship is traveling west, you will need to add a day to the expected date; conversely, if traveling east, you will take away a day. This paradox, already noted by Magellan’s crews during his circumnavigation, serves as dramatic motivation in several novels, including Jules Verne’s famous Around the World in Eighty Days.

Day 2 — Provideniya, Bukhta

Across the Bering Strait from Alaska, which it almost touches and can be glimpsed when the weather is fine, the town of Provideniya seems to keep a watchful eye over ships heading for the East Siberian Sea. Nestled against mountains with peaks of up to 6,500 ft. (2,000 m), Provideniya is the gateway to the Chukotka Peninsula, a polar region as yet unknown to the general public, with striking landscapes and a primitive beauty like no other.

Day 3 — Big Diomede / Cape Dezhnev

From your Zodiac, discover Big Diomede, between Siberia and Alaska. This island, measuring approximately 12 sq. mi. (30 km2) and located in the middle of the Bering Strait, is Russia’s most easterly point. Although it was once inhabited by the Inuit, it is now home to just a handful of Russian soldiers on a military base. Just a few miles further east, on the other side of the International Date Line, lies Little Diomede, an American island which Russia sold to the United States in 1867.

Cape Dezhnev is a highly symbolic place that forms the easternmost point of Eurasia. It owes its name to the Cossack Semyon Dezhnev, the first Westerner to have rounded the eastern tip of Asia via the Bering Strait, in 1648. If the weather is nice, you may be lucky enough to glimpse the American coastline off in the distance, as Alaska is only 55 mi. (90 km) further east. Upon landing here, you will discover the vestiges of a Chukchi village, as well as an old lighthouse that stands as a reminder of Soviet military activity here in the past. Nearby, do not miss the opportunity to visit the small village of Uelen. Its museum will reveal the secrets of local crafts through, in particular, walrus ivory sculptures and engravings.

Day 4 — Kolyuchin Island

The northern coast of Chukotka shelters a small inhabited island going by the name of Kolyuchin. During your visit to these parts, you will be able to observe, on the western edge, a former Russian scientific research station, now abandoned. Not far from these buildings rise one of the most spectacular bird cliffs in the Arctic: puffins, gulls, guillemots, cormorants, geese, sandpipers, loons and sandhill cranes all rub feathers here. Walruses, grey whales and polar bears are also part of the décor, as if they wanted to fully complete this typically Arctic tableau in which the tundra, which covers the entire island, welcomes a vast plain dotted with shallow lakes.

Days 5 to 7 — Krasina Bay / Wrangel Island

Krasina Bay is one of the gateways to Wrangel Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also one of your possible disembarkation sites. In addition to the possibility of a magnificent hike in this paradise of polar biodiversity, home to muskoxen, Arctic foxes and polar bears, you will be able to discover the remains of a Paleo-Eskimo camp that is more than 3,400 years old.

Imagine a natural island that is mostly mountainous and, for the rest of its landscapes, alternates between vast tundra plains and areas of great lakes, lagoons and cliffs. Welcome to Wrangel, the most important hotspot of Arctic biodiversity. Situated between the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea, the island was named after the Russian explorer Ferdinand von Wrangel. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island is a rare, precious and very ancient ecosystem with unique vegetation, as well as exceptional fauna. It is home to the majestic polar bear and the vast majority of the Russian Arctic’s walrus population. The island also holds traces of the last mammoths and is home to several endemic species.

Day 8 — Cape Vankarem

Cape Vankarem is to be found well beyond the Bering Strait, in Eastern Siberia. It is home to one of the main gathering (’haul-out”) sites for walruses in the north-east of Russia. From the outdoor decks of your ship, you will perhaps be lucky enough to observe grey whales and bowhead whales, which often frequent these parts. During your shore visit, don’t miss out on setting off to encounter the Chukchi. This is an opportunity to share a unique moment with these captivating and strikingly modest people, who live in fantastical landscapes that are home to exceptional wildlife. This will be an extraordinary journey beyond the confines of time and space, guaranteed to leave you with indelible memories.

Day 9 — Penkigney / Yttygran / Provideniya, Bukhta

On the approach to Penkigney Bay, along the coastlines of Eastern Siberia, pay close attention. Orcas, grey whales and humpback whales, piqued by curiosity, will perhaps come and blow near your ship, providing photographers with an opportunity to immortalize an unforgettable moment. Once on land, discover the superb tundra of Penkigney Bay. Accompanied by your naturalist-guides, set off on a hike looking for traces of large wild mammals such as brown bears, reindeer and wolves. Many birds and gophers also live in these parts. At the end of your walk up to a summit, the bravest among you will enjoy a stunning view over the bay.

From your ship’s exterior decks, if you are lucky, you could be greeted by a merry band of orcas, humpback whales, grey whales and fin whales. You will slowly approach Yttygran Island for a highly promising shore visit. Indeed, the north coast of this small island located in the Bering Strait is a real treasure trove for archaeology buffs. Myriad bowhead whale bones, jaws and skulls are arranged on the ground here and their alignment remains unexplained to this day. This unique, emotionally-charged site steeped in mystery was discovered in the 1970s and dubbed “Whale Bone Alley”.

Across the Bering Strait from Alaska, which it almost touches and can be glimpsed when the weather is fine, the town of Provideniya seems to keep a watchful eye over ships heading for the East Siberian Sea. Nestled against mountains with peaks of up to 6,500 ft. (2,000 m), Provideniya is the gateway to the Chukotka Peninsula, a polar region as yet unknown to the general public, with striking landscapes and a primitive beauty like no other.

Day 10 — Crossing the Date Line / Savoonga

During one of your Zodiac outings, we invite you to discover the village of Savoonga. Located on St. Lawrence Island, at the southern entrance of the Bering Strait, it provides a great glimpse into the lifestyle and traditions of the Yupik people. You will probably be greeted by a number of smiling villagers, happy to spend a few hours with you. Savoonga’s 800 inhabitants mainly subsist on walrus and bowhead whale hunting. Traditional singing and dancing are also part of daily life for the villagers, who are masters at the art of walrus tusk sculpture.

Day 12 — Saint Paul Island, Pribilof

Part of the Earth’s History was written between Alaska and Russia. We invite you to discover a unique environment that seems to stretch out to infinity. Lost in the middle of the Bering Sea, the Pribilof archipelago is made up of four volcanic islands where nature has crafted exquisitely beautiful landscapes. Here, on the islands of Saint Paul and Saint George, you will find majestic volcanoes, lava deserts and crater lakes, offering travelers a magnificent vantage point from which to observe a fauna composed almost exclusively of fur seals. The archipelago is also renowned as a paradise for birds, especially on Saint Paul, as more than 240 different species of seabirds take flight from the top of its majestic cliff.

Day 13 — Dutch Harbor, Unalaska

During your cruise, discover an exceptional site: Unalaska Island and its port, Dutch Harbor. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, on the Aleutian Islands, Dutch Harbor is the only deep water port in the archipelago. As for the island itself, it offers you unique landscapes, volcanic summits swept by the wind and surrounded by the sea, lush green valleys, sometimes covered with bright summer flowers, sometimes with deep winter snow. Unalaska is not only an island with astonishing nature and very varied wildlife, it is also rich in history, where ancient indigenous cultures and remains from World War II can be seen and their tales told.

Day 14 — Chankliut Island

Off the Alaska Peninsula hides a small gem, Chankliut. From mountainous terrain to flowery moors and valleys covered in sea lyme-grass, this island, which is part of the Aleutian archipelago, offers landscapes with a unique charm. During your walk around a lake, you will cross a sumptuous meadow where beautiful aconite and willowherb vie for attention. The more courageous will venture onward to the neighboring valley and its ancient calderas to admire the splendor of the scenery. This totally uninhabited island bears no trace of any past settlement. Small, curious heads will catch your attention, however; crested puffins and horned puffins bask on the water near spotted seals.

Day 15 — Geographic Harbor / Hidden Harbor, Kinak Bay

Here you are in the heart of Katmai National Park and Preserve. Here, the rocky cliffs are punctuated with white marks. These are the remains of ash deposits that accumulated following a volcanic eruption in the past. Board your Zodiac and, a little further south, explore every part of Geographic Harbor and its tall cliffs covered in vegetation and plunging into the sea. Along the sandy beach, grizzly bears improvise hunting sessions, in search of fish and clams. In the thickets, these omnivores eat berries, roots and grasses. Brown bears are at home here and the presence of humans doesn’t seem to disturb them. This makes for a fascinating and unforgettable show.

In the heart of the stunning Katmai nature reserve, renowned for its bewitching landscapes of rivers and lakes, discover Kinak Bay. This bay is more sheltered than Geographic Harbor. At the end of a narrow passage where strong currents flow, it leads to a few small beaches that are each more charming than the next. You have arrived at Hidden Harbor. Stay alert: a large colony of brown bears reigns here. They love to wander along the coast and dip their paws in the clear currents in the hope of catching a salmon. As for the bear cubs, they prefer to catch seabirds on the beach. Look up and you might spot two or three bald eagles, proudly perched on the cliffs.

Day 16 — Holgate Glacier

Exceptional scenery surrounds you. You are in Aialik Bay, in the heart of a gigantic fjord located in Kenai Fjords National Park. Your ship is heading towards the vertiginous slopes of Holgate Glacier, which is still very active. Regularly, blocks of ice break free from its snout and crash into the water. This phenomenon, called calving, is magnificent to witness. During your Zodiac outing, you will get closer to this ever-fascinating world of ice. In this mineral setting, sea otters and spotted seals will observe you as they bask in the golden rays of sunshine, while gulls and seagulls feast on fish trapped by the ebbing tide.

Day 17 — Seward - Disembarkation

Seward is located on the Kenai peninsula, south of Anchorage. This bustling port, built for the fishing and shipbuilding industries, will show you just how vibrant it is, with its shops and galleries.

Note: Visits to Wrangel Island are subject to permission being granted by the Russian authorities. This port of call can only be confirmed once this authorization has been received, six months before the cruise departure date.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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   Owner's Suite — Deck 6
485 Sq. Ft. with 100 Sq. Ft. Private Balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
Includes Butler Service
   Prestige Suite — Deck 6
400 Sq. Ft. with 85 Sq. Ft. Private Balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed. Two toilets, two wardrobes.
Includes Butler Service
   Prestige Suite — Deck 5
400 Sq. Ft. with 85 Sq. Ft. Private Balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed. Two toilets, two wardrobes.
   Deluxe Suite — Deck 6
290 Sq. Ft. with 55 Sq. Ft. Private Balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed.
Includes Butler Service
   Prestige Stateroom — Deck 6
200 Sq. Ft. with 45. Sq. Ft Private Balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
   Prestige Stateroom — Deck 5
200 Sq. Ft. with 45 Sq. Ft. Private Balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
   Prestige Stateroom — Deck 4
200 Sq. Ft. with 45 Sq. Ft. Private Balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
   Deluxe Stateroom — Deck 3
200 Sq. Ft. with 45 Sq. Ft. Private Balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
   Superior Stateroom — Deck 3
225 Sq. Ft.
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
Can accommodate 3 persons
  NOTE: Twin beds are NOT available in the following cabin numbers
Deck 6: 609,610,614,615,618,619,622,623,626
Deck 5: 512,515,516,519,520,523,524,527,528,531,535

Cabin_Ponant3