Aleutian Island & Kamchatka

Aleutian Island & Kamchatka

20/08/22 to 09/09/22
Dates
20/08/22 to 09/09/22
Ship
SH Minerva
Duration
21 Days
Guests
2 Guest
Price From
£ 36,390
Per Cabin
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Trip Details

Escape from routine on our boutique ship as it voyages to isolated and vast uninhabited regions of the northern Pacific. Navigating the oceanic islands of the northern Pacific Ring of Fire - Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands in Russia and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska - we discover the unique geothermal hotspot where new species of whale have been found. From prolific birdlife in the Pribilof Islands to the abundant wildlife of the tundra regions, we get to see flora and fauna like nowhere else on earth as we land on shores where only a few intrepid travellers and indigenous peoples have been before.

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Trip Highlights

Escape from routine on our boutique ship as it voyages to isolated and vast uninhabited regions of the northern Pacific. Navigating the oceanic islands of the northern Pacific Ring of Fire - Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands in Russia and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska - we discover the unique geothermal hotspot where new species of whale have been found. From prolific birdlife in the Pribilof Islands to the abundant wildlife of the tundra regions, we get to see flora and fauna like nowhere else on earth as we land on shores where only a few intrepid travellers and indigenous peoples have been before.

Admire complex volcanic structures on Ketoy Island in the Kurils
Keep a sharp eye out for brown bears roaming the land
Brush up on your geography and listen to our experts as they share their vast expertise of these isolated regions
Visit the Galapagos of the North - St George Island - where a new species of beaked whale was discovered
Look up at craggy cliffs at the birding migratory capital of St Paul Island in the Pribilofs
Itinerary Map
Itinerary
Nome Day 1

Nome is the most famous gold rush town in Alaska (the town’s welcome sign is marked on the state’s largest gold pan). This wind-swept tundra landscape is a haven for wildflowers. Hardy muskoxen forage, bear and caribou roam, and the mountain streams provide a freshwater habitat for spawning wild Alaskan salmon. Excursions include mushing, panning for gold on the beaches and trips to the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

Nunam Iqua Day 2

Previously known as Sheldon Point, Nunam Iqua (a Yupik name meaning ‘land’s end’) - with a small population of less than 200 people - lies on the Yukon River to the east of the Yukon National Wildlife Refuge where Canadian lynx and wolf packs roam. This coastal region on the Bering Sea sees mulchatna caribiu herd migrate to the tundra during autumn and winter. As we pass through the waters keep your eyes open for beluga, gray and minke whales.

Kangirlvar Bay Day 3

To the east of Nelson Island in southwestern Alaska, Kangirlvar Bay faces the Bering Sea and is home to the native Yupiit who survive on a traditional diet of fishing and hunting musk ox and caribou. This area is an important autumn staging post for shorebirds such as bar-tailed godwits and bristle-thighed curlew. The Ningaluk river separates this area from the Alaska mainland to the north, by the Kolavinarek river to the east and by the Etolin Strait to its southwest.

Cape Newenham Day 4

A former Air Force Station built to provide the United States with early warning of attack by the Soviet Union, Cape Newenham today is a more relaxed state game refuge and estuary. A stopping ground for thousands of ducks, geese and shorebirds to and from nesting grounds further north, you can see black brant feed on eelgrass. Emperor Geese, taverner's canada geese and red-breasted merganser also refuel here. In the bay watch for brown bears scavenging the beaches.

St Paul Island Day 5

The island fictionalised in a scene of Rudyard Kipling’s story The White Seal and poem ‘Lukannon’ in The Jungle Book, St Paul Island is the largest of the Pribilof Islands. It is a birding migratory capital - part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge - and it is a breeding ground for more than half a million northern fur seals. The landscape is craggy and uneven with sheer cliffs in a few headlands. Until c. 3,750 BC, the Woolly mammoth roamed these plains.

St George Island Day 6

Known as the ‘Galapagos of the North’ with millions of migratory birds each year coming to nest on its basalt cliffs, on St George Island you can encounter more than 200 species of birds. Watch out for orca that watch for fur seals along the coastline and a new species of beaked whale, beradius beringiae, discovered near the island in 2016. The island is also a huge breeding ground for red-legged kittiwakes, while on land arctic fox will make your heart leap.

Amak Island Day 7

This island’s volcano last erupted in 1796 but activity on the island since has been confined to being a rich outpost of birdlife in the Aleutians to the north of the Alaska Peninsula. From the red-faced cormorant and golden eagle to the black oystercatcher, this uninhabited island northwest of Cold Bay is a glorious base for a huge variety of species. Seals may bark a welcome on your approach, and do search nearby for sea otters.

Akutan Day 8

Mount Akutan volcano had a relatively recent major lava eruption in 1979 but it is, of course, mostly tranquil on Akutan Island, in the Fox Islands group of the eastern Aleutian Islands. A magnet for birds such as the northern pintail and pacific golden- plover, on the nearby Baby Islands, you can see the whiskered auklet, one of only two places it exists in the world. Akutan itself is a city set in a green and tan valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Dutch Harbor Day 9

A mile-long spit on Amaknak Island in the Fox Islands, Dutch Harbor was one of the few sites to suffer from aerial bombardment in World War II and you can still see concrete bunkers and former gun emplacements. The native Aleut people have inhabited this area for around 9,000 years but the strong influence of the Russian Orthodox Church can be seen in the characteristic onion domes. The sprightly arctic fox and bright-beaked horned and tufted puffins are all residents here.

At Sea Day 10

As you cruise to your next port of call, spend the day at sea savouring the ship’s facilities and learning about your destination’s many facets from the knowledgeable onboard experts. Listen to an enriching talk, indulge in a relaxing treatment at the spa, work out in the well-equipped gym, enjoy some down- time in your cabin, share travel reminiscences with newly found friends: the options are numerous.

Kiska Harbor Day 11

The site of one of Japan’s few American toeholds during World War II, Kiska Island was held for more than a year in 1942–1943 as a naval base. Stark relics of that time such as artillery guns, a Shinto shrine, bullet casings and ruined piers can still be seen. The striking cliffs of Sirius Point are visited by large numbers of least and crested auklets, while keeping alert for the distinct black-footed albatrosses, ptarmigans and bald eagles.

Attu Island Day 12

A site of great historical significance, Attu Island was the location of the only World War II land battle fought in the United States. More than 3,500 hundred American and Japanese soldiers died at Massacre Bay on the southeastern coast. Now a birders’ paradise, it is the setting for the movie, The Big Year - starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson as avid ornithologists – and you can spot soaring peregrine falcons, lapland longspur and Aleutian Canada goose.

At Sea Day 13

As you cruise to your next port of call, spend the day at sea savouring the ship’s facilities and learning about your destination’s many facets from the knowledgeable onboard experts. Listen to an enriching talk, indulge in a relaxing treatment at the spa, work out in the well-equipped gym, enjoy some down- time in your cabin, share travel reminiscences with newly found friends: the options are numerous.

Petropavlovsk (Kamchatsky) Day 14

With a backdrop of conical-shaped, snow-capped volcanoes, the rustic Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy is the main city of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Nearby Avacha Bay is considered one of the world’s most picturesque bays, dubbed by UNESCO as being in “one of the most outstanding volcanic regions in the world”. A visit to the iconic Three Brothers sea stacks, where Steller sea lions bask, or to the dramatic volcanic area with geysers, craters and active calderas is an unforgettable treat.

Russkaya Bay & Utashud Island Day 15

On the southeast coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, Bukhta Russkaya is a deep, narrow fjord-like bay with a long and interesting history. Here along the southeast shore, Itelmen tribes settled and archaeological evidence has been found here from the remains of dwellings to tools and arrowheads. Orca and sea otters pop up above the water’s surface, but the main attraction is the rookery of hefty sea lions and pups that haul out at nearby Kekurny Cape.

Atlasova Island Day 16

The highest volcano in the Kuril Islands volcanic archipelago, Vulkan Alaid rises to 2,340m above black lava beaches where you might spot shorebirds and waders, such as long-toed stint, Eurasian wigeons, black and white-winged scoters, harlequin and tufted ducks, Red-faced cormorants clinging to the cliffs complete the scene. This remote island was also the site of a gulag - labour camp - for women political prisoners in the Soviet era who were sent here to raise foxes for fur.

Yankicha Island & Ketoy Island Day 17

A highlight of the Kuril Islands, the flooded caldera surrounded by emerald green peaks is the summit of a submerged volcano where the lagoon waters bubble and fumaroles plume around the perimeter. And if hiking around this beauty spot is not enough, then a chance to catch sight of alcids - Brunnich’s, common and pigeon guillemots, crested and whiskered auklets, tufted and horned puffins - that breed here are an added bonus, especially as night falls and they swarm in their thousands.

Chirpoy Island Day 18

This uninhabited volcanic island, part of the Kuril Islands, is heaven-on-earth for seabird-watchers. Dramatic black lava cliffs provide roosting areas for black-legged kittiwakes and Brunnich’s guillemots, among many others, as sea lions drag themselves onto the beaches below. Climbing to Vulkan Chernoga, the highest point on the island at 691m, gives hikers a panoramic view over the island, and on a good day across towards nearby islands that form a caldera about 9km wide.

Tyuleniy Island Day 19

Tyuleniy means “seal” in Russian, so it is hardly surprising to see steller sea lions cohabiting with more than 100,000 northern fur seals - the largest species of seal - who gather here on overcrowded beaches. Our cruise coincides with breeding season in the Sea of Okhotsk, so we should get to see black fur pups being nursed in these dense rookeries. Equally prolific are seabirds: tufted puffins, crested auklets, Pallas’ warbler to name a few.

Korsakov Day 20

Our ship docks off Korsakov, a port city on the south coast of Sakhalin Island - Russia’s largest island - in the Pacific Ocean. From here, most passengers take the short trip to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the island capital. Between 1905 and 1945, Japan ruled this part of the island and the mix of architecture is evident, while the local Korsakov museum documents this turbulent period.

Otaru Day 21

An important port on Hokkaido - Japan’s northernmost island - Otaru retains much of its original architecture. Restored warehouses along its picturesque canal, lined with Victorian street lamps, have been converted into restaurants and boutiques selling sake, music boxes and renowned Otaru glass. Built on the herring industry, its trading history is evident from the terminal station of Hokkaido’s first railway line to the Herring Mansion on the outskirts of town, once owned by rich herring fishermen.

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Rates Include
One night pre-cruise hotel accommodation with breakfast
Transfer from the airport to the hotel on the day prior to embarkation
Transfer from the hotel to the port for embarkation
Transfer from the port to the airport on return
Onboard accommodation
All meals onboard including room service 24 hours a day
Coffee, tea, soft drinks & select alcoholic beverages 24 hours a day
Lecture programmes by our experienced expedition team and guest speakers
Shore excursion programme led by our expert expedition team
Branded Swan Hellenic expedition parka
Use of rubber boots for shore landings
Basic WIFI inclusion (Premium WIFI available)
Onboard gratuities & port taxes
Itineraries and prices are subject to change
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Itinerary Map
Cabins
Number of Guests
Oceanview
19 m2 Sleeps 2
Oceanview cabins features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room and a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
Price From
£ 36,390
Balcony
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room, a luxurious ensuite bathroom and your own private 6 sq.m. balcony.
Price From
£ 41,590
Suite
44 m2 Sleeps 2
Our Suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom and a 12 sq.m. private balcony.
Price From
£ 56,990
Premium Suite
49 m2 Sleeps 2
Our grandest suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom, spacious walk in wardrobe and a 12 sq.m private balcony.
Price From
£ 66,890
Other Available Dates
If you really like this cruise but the date is not suitable for you, we are glad to offer other dates for the itinerary.
Please find below all our date offerings.
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