Even before coffee we were in awe. By 06:30, Chatham Strait was filled with beams of golden light and frolicking humpbacks. We sailed on toward Pavlof Harbor hoping to see brown bears… and sure enough we were greeted by two individuals feeding on salmon in front of a rushing waterfall. We dropped our Zodiacs for an impromptu look at these magnificent mammals whose fishing antics were nothing short of hilarious.

Next we cruised toward Lake Eva, and naturalist Zoey gave a presentation on “Raptors of Southeast Alaska.” Before long every guest in the lounge was practicing the “Eagle Dance,” spreading their wings and mimicking the silhouettes of both golden and bald eagles.

After lunch we took to the forest for our last excursion of the trip, hiking through glorious meadows, tumbling streams, a peaceful lagoon, and hillsides decorated with delicate ferns. The Global Explorers gathered for a final celebratory hike in honor of the community they’d built in just four days. They took a minute of silence watching a congregation of spawning salmon; then they gathered naturally fallen items from the forest floor and gifted them to the salmon.

Upon return to the ship, forty guests decided to brave the frigid Alaskan seawater by jumping into the ocean for the official Sea Bird Polar Plunge of August 5th, 2023. The turnout was impressive, and the smiles were strong.

This trip has been unforgettable. We saw humpback whales, Dall’s porpoise, harbor porpoise, brown bears, great blue herons, bald eagles, sea otters, harbor seal pups, Steller sea lions, towering snow-capped mountains, epic glaciers, ancient Sitka spruce trees; we saw many individual salmon whose legacy is visibly woven into every element of the land here. We thank Alaska for offering daily moments of beauty, and National Geographic Sea Bird for providing us with such a reliable home from which to adventure.