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  • Writer's pictureJuliet Weller

ALASKA...In Three Parts - Part 3: Expeditions!

Has the weather changed where you are? Here in the foothills of the Rockies, I am awaiting the inevitable first freeze, and telepathically encouraging the last of my tomatoes to hasten their ripening. By the way, if you need to rescue yours, leave the fruit on the vines, cut the vines and bring them indoors. Leave them in a box, or lay them on newspaper out of the way. Those that will ripen will do so with the benefit of what's left in the vines for "food". It's inevitable some will never ripen, but at least the freeze monster won't ruin the vines before max ripening occurs; and you can still have your tasty vine-ripened tomatoes. That's my horticultural advice for the day.

Well, it's time for the last installment of the Alaska series. The first two parts are here, if you need a refresher. If you're bored to death by this series, then Alaska isn't your place, and that's okay. For everyone else, this week's ezine is about expedition cruises. Does the idea of an expedition to Alaska's wilderness make you breathless with anticipation? Imagine! A real expedition, suitable for the exploring adventurer that you know you are (or always wanted to be). So...ummm...what's an expedition cruise?

Ask Christopher Columbus. Or Charles Darwin. I'm kidding; but not really. Have you ever thought about following in the footsteps of a modern-day explorer like Jacques Cousteau? Do you know that a trip on board a National Geographic ship is possible? Yes!! You can step aboard one of three Nat. Geo. cruise vessels for an unforgettable exploration of a dynamic environment teeming with wildlife, and get the most in-depth experience possible. Their small cruise ships are perfect for exploring places large ships cannot go, and they foster very welcoming communities, and kindle camaraderie. You’ll sail through narrow channels and past towering mountains; stand on the open bow to observe wildlife; sleep soundly and wake to fresh vistas of glaciers and forests outside your cabin. Throughout the journey, the immense Alaskan wilderness will slowly reveal its magic – wide open spaces and lush rainforests, deep fjords and rugged glaciers create an unforgettable expedition.

You will have a choice of daily activities: hike, kayak, and snap photos, more. Head off to explore a glacier aboard an expedition landing craft, go for a long hike in a towering forest with the wellness specialist if you crave exercise, or choose a short slower walk, with time for your naturalist to share the unique wonders of the native flora. Stay aboard and read if you prefer. Or enjoy a wellness treatment in the spa. There’s no one-size-fits-all scheduling here: you can choose your activities, activity levels, and staff members to join every day.

Nature hike, paddleboarding; brown bear - oh my!

Exclusive: The Expedition Photography program. Every Alaska departure offers the services of a National Geographic certified photo instructor. Photo Expeditions are specially designated departures, custom-tailored for immersion in photography—whether you’re a beginner, advanced hobbyist, or serious shooter. Every Alaska expedition also has undersea exploration. An undersea specialist dons cold-water diving gear to shoot video of the undersea to share in the ship’s lounge. Each evening at cocktail hour, the entire community gathers in the lounge for an expedition recap: as you enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, various naturalists give talks, the undersea specialist may show video, and your expedition leader will outline the following day’s schedule.

National Geographic partners with Lindblad Expeditions for these adventurous trips. It's a cruise, but not a typical one. Leave your tux and evening gown at home; the clothing you wore to breakfast, and wore on your trips that day, can be worn straight to dinner when you return from your adventure. No frilly evening events on this trips, but you will still experience amazing ambiance, delicious sustainable cuisine at mealtime, and relaxation with your favorite beverage at day's end.

Lindblad Expeditions on Nat. Geo. vessels - the ultimate Alaska adventure

Family travel and shipboard life go together, y'know—expedition trips are perfect for a shared family adventure; the exclusive family program was developed in conjunction with National Geographic Education. This unique exploration-based program provides an unforgettable ‘smart-fun’ experience where guests under 18 will take part in all kinds of "cool" activities (see what I did there?) like:

  • benefiting from National Geographic-certified field educators;connecting with nature and having direct contact with wildlife and wonders, on land and in the sea;

  • learning to be a storyteller; being encouraged to use their creativity with photos, videos, music, writing, drawing and more to tell stories about all they’ll see and do;

  • developing their observation skills. Daily “In the Field: Spot It!” activities will prompt kids to watch out for specific wildlife, and record observations in their field notebook.

The National Geographic Global Explorers’ bulletin board is headquarters for daily activities and challenges, and kids can choose what they’d like to participate in each day. Schedules and activities both onboard and off ship are designed with families in mind: enjoy kid-friendly menus, movie night with pizza, a choice of hikes, and more.

Calving glacier; feasting grizzlies; orcas doing what what orcas do.

Okay, you get the picture. Imagine yourself paddling on long, naturalist-guided kayaking journeys into Alaska’s dramatic bays; rafting the Chilkat River with local guides and calling at the ancient Chilkat Tlingit village of Klukwan; exploring Haines, the 'adventure capital of Alaska,' via raft, bicycle, or hiking boot; zipping around incredible icebergs and viewing glaciers in Tracy or Endicott Arm.

Which type of Alaska encounter is the one for you and your family? If you can't decide, re-read the series and call me. Together we will figure which Alaska experience is right for you.

'til next week.

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