Gray skies and low hanging fog cast a calming shadow over National Geographic Quest in the early morning. As guests dined on their breakfast buffet and the staff convened for our morning meeting, we concurred that days such as these were preferable to any alternative — one has not truly seen Alaska until they have seen her cloaked in gray. Against this backdrop we began our morning operations at Dundas Bay.

Technically within the confines of Glacier Bay National Park, this spot was new to the entirety of our veteran natural history staff. Tasked with leading bushwhacks, naturalist Kelly Ferron and I pressed into the forest where signs of bears were omnipresent. Throughout the hike there were reminders of their seminal role in our ecology. From shoreline to muskeg we followed their path, noting their scat and fur along the way. Meanwhile other groups combed the tide pools and kayaked among massive schools of jellyfish.

Following lunch, we began Zodiac tours of the Inian Islands. If Dundas Bay is uncharted territory for our staff, the Inian Islands are like our favorite hometown bar — a place where we can relive memories, share some smiles, and reconnect with old friends. In this case, our friends were the wildlife of the Inians, namely Steller sea lions, tufted puffins, bald eagles, and sea otters. By this time any remnant fog had burned off, giving way to blue skies and views of the far-off Fairweather Mountains. Expert navigation from our Zodiac pilots placed us in prime position to engage with this wildlife. From juvenile sea lions rolling in the surf to massive otters whacking crustaceans from out of their shells, the day was a true success in terms of wildlife sightings.

Back aboard National Geographic Quest, guests basked in the glow of a beautiful sunset as cocktails flowed and stories were shared. As I write this report many of us are huddled in the lounge anticipating our evening program. This was truly a banner day aboard National Geographic Quest, and each of us awaits tomorrow’s cruise through Glacier Bay with bated breath.