No cars. No concrete. No giant high-rise buildings.
Cruising the remote waters of Alaska is like traveling back in time to an unspoiled land, where long Alaska days provide ample time to flex your sense of adventure, lose yourself in the details, or just take some time to decompress.
No two days are alike
People ask us what a typical day is like on the Snow Goose. It’s a difficult question to answer because, as you’ve probably gathered, no two days are alike. That being said, each trip has an itinerary with places we want to see, so our days do tend have a pattern to them. Here‘s an example:
Morning: Early birds wake to the serenity of our anchorage, fire up a cup of coffee and step out into a 2000’ fjord to watch birds casually floating by. As smells of fresh baked scones lazily waft through the cabin, other travelers awaken to a morning kayak paddle and hearty breakfast to fuel themselves for the day. After prepping the Snow Goose for departure, we pull anchor and head to our next anchorage – a popular feeding ground for humpback whales.
Afternoon: After a few hours cruising the waters of Alaska, we are magically immersed in whale soup. Humpbacks are concentrated and feeding on krill with magnificent splendor. Motors shut down and as we quietly drift with the current, the naturalist drops our hydrophone to listen to the songs of the humpback. We hear the orchestrated sounds of the whales as they communicate with each other. Not wanting to miss this magical moment, we forgo eating lunch in the main salon and take our warm soup and homemade hot focaccia sandwiches on the foredeck. Others join the captain in the wheelhouse to view the splendor of Alaska from the perch. Shortly following lunch, we amble toward our evening anchorage.
Evening: As soon as the anchor splashes into water, you’re putting on your rubber boots and preparing yourself for a hike in the Tongass National Forest. With the naturalist and first mate, you walk amongst the Sitka spruce with a carpet of moss squishing under your feet. Quietly walking, aware that bears call this place home, you emerge from the forest to meet the skiff for transport back to the mothership. An unofficial happy hour invites discussion of the day’s events – thick with birds, native flowers, and massive evergreen trees. Wild Alaskan salmon is served with roasted potatoes, warm bread, and a fresh salad. After dinner, the captain summarizes the next day’s route in a brief chart talk. Some play games, others sip tea on the back deck, you decide to retire to your cabin and read a book you’ve been putting off for years. You finally drift off to sleep under the gentle rocking of the calm anchorage we call home for the evening.
Whatever floats your boat
While we do have constraints when we depart Port A and arrive at Port B, exactly what we do and what we see is up to the tides, weather, wildlife, and your interest. Each day is scheduled and filled with as much or as little as you like. Depending on the day, moments of self discovery may be found exploring a beautiful creek, hiking to the head of a glacier, or quietly paddling a kayak.
One day we may launch the kayaks in the morning and silently float the open water to view birds or skim the shallows to marvel at the intertidal species clinging to the rocks. Another day we may pull the anchor after a shore excursion to venture to new waters.
We’re a little different.
Obviously different from the enormous cruise ships that ply these waters every summer, we’re different from the smaller ships as well. For us, it’s not only about seeing the landscape; it’s about exploring the details hidden within and finding the unexpected.
It’s not simply about watching a whale breath at the surface as we pass by, it’s about taking the time – stopping – waiting, watching, listening to the sound of the whale exhale at the surface before diving to feed, even feeling the mist from it’s blow kiss your face. It’s about gaining a deeper understanding for the magnificent world we live in – walking on shore at low tide with muddy fingers, flipping over stones and finding starfish, snails, crabs, anemones, and most importantly – the unexpected. It’s about getting back to the basics, and finding your bearings again – a reset button for the soul.
Many charter companies dream of the opportunity to explore Glacier Bay, but to maintain the pristine wilderness, few permits are issued. We are one of the select few that have access to such permits*. Because Glacier Bay is a National Park and affords all the protections that come with such status, wildlife abounds within the bay. Guests can look forward to days of intimate contact with humpback whales, bears, moose, wolves, sea otters, seals, sea lions, goats, eagles, and puffins - to name just a few.
Since Glacier Bay has just recently emerged from the ice, it is considered a geologically young area. A trip up Glacier Bay is like a trip back in time. Old growth forests give way to bare rock as we make our way back into the upper reaches of the bay. Here, the tide water glaciers still rumble and roar as they make their slow retreat back, dropping huge icebergs into the sea. Magnificent granite cliffs tower above our small ship as we wind our way up the fjord through the ice floes towards the faces of these massive glaciers. Along the way, our expert naturalist and guide will point out the finer points of plant succession, glaciation, local geology, and the interconnectedness of the animals that call this area home. The biodiversity of this place is simply amazing.
*Even though the Snow Goose has access to permits, the permits themselves are issued on a trip by trip basis based on availability. We request permits as soon as we know the dates of our visit, but they are issued fairly late in the season. Therefore, all routes are subject to change based on the ability to obtain the proper access permits.
Although our main goal on the Snow Goose is to let the beautiful scenery, secluded locations, and majestic animals be the forefront, it’s the food that brings us all together. From freshly baked scones and frittatas in the mornings to truffle potato cakes, roasted romanesco, and seared local steak topped with smoked salt for dinner, the Snow Goose chefs bring their creativity and love of food into each dish.
We shop local, sustainable, and organic whenever possible. Planning and provisioning for the Snow Goose is no easy feat, it takes weeks of ordering, menu planning, and shopping to make your trip run with ease. We focus on organic and pastured meats, sourced from Pacific Northwest companies for all of our proteins. The one exception is the delicious wild fish and other seafood that we either catch ourselves or buy from fishermen in port. We shop Alaskan fair whenever possible to help support the local communities and people we love so much.
Our chefs cook three squares a day. There’s also a happy hour snack – typically starting at five o’clock – which can be as simple as pickled asparagus and pub mix, to a sweet and savory baked brie with homemade baguette. Let’s not forget about the beer and wine, which is included in your experience aboard the Snow Goose. We are also happy to accommodate folks with food allergies and special dietary needs.
Can you hear me now?
Well, probably not. When you’re cruising the remote waters of the Inside Passage you’ll be completely off the grid. Phone calls, texts, and Facebooks posts will have to wait.. and thank goodness! Because we’ve found that in order to really find yourself, you have to lose your tethers to the outside world. So, feel free to bring your cell phone (we have outlets to charge them), but don’t expect to use it for anything but taking pictures, playing games, or as an expensive paper weight.
In the case of an emergency, we have protocols to get you in touch with the outside world. Before you leave, we’ll provide you with instructions on how your family can contact the Snow Goose if there’s an emergency back home. If there’s an emergency on the boat and we need to contact someone on land, the captain can call them directly with our satellite phone from anywhere at anytime. We also have two standard nautical VHF radios for communicating with other boats and nearby ports.
“This truly was the trip of a lifetime. Thanks just doesn’t express it.”