James Shillinglaw, Oct 03, 2019,
Victory Cruise Lines (VCL), operated by American Queen Steamboat Company, unveiled the inaugural itineraries for the 2021 season in Alaska onboard the 200-passenger M/V Ocean Victory. Currently under construction, VCL’s third vessel will focus on expedition cruising exploring the scenery and wildlife of Alaska and British Columbia with shore excursions paired with onboard enrichment and lecture programs.
Beginning its maiden season in May 2021, Ocean Victory will feature new Discover Beyond Alaska Expedition Adventure Cruise itineraries, with a 10-night sailing from Vancouver, B.C. to Sitka, Alaska and an 11-night sailing from Sitka, Alaska to Vancouver, B.C. Equipped with 20 zodiacs and dozens of kayaks, the vessel will provide guests with in-depth explorations of Alaska’s natural, historic and cultural treasures.
To ensure that the Ocean Victory showcases the very best of expedition cruising in Alaska, VCL is working with California Polytechnic State University to include marine biologists, scientists and naturalists among its expedition team of 19, who will lead excursions, deliver lectures and act as a resource for all guests.
The 104.4-meter, 200-guest Ocean Victory will feature 93 suites, 68 of which will have balconies, nine with French balconies and 16 with panoramic windows. The vessel will carry a crew of 100 and feature a 2-to-1 guest to crew ratio. Onboard amenities include two restaurants, an open-deck dining area, piano bar, library, gym, heated outdoor pool, spa and Jacuzzi, plus observation and lecture lounges and a dedicated expedition and adventures launching platform.
Highlights of the new Discover Beyond Alaska Expedition Adventure Cruise itineraries include:
Vancouver: The adventure begins or ends in one of the world’s truly great cities, Vancouver B.C., with a wealth of museums, parks, aquariums, and nightlife. Highlights include the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley Park and the many charming boutiques of historic Gastown.
Canadian Inside Passage: A seamless expanse of vast nature, the famed Inside Passage extends between British Columbia and Alaska. A voyage through the Canadian Inside Passage is a natural route between Vancouver and Alaska. Guests will either begin or conclude their journey along the protected North American coastline and can enjoy close-up intimate cruising through waterways surrounded by undeveloped and uninhabited land. The area also features an abundance of wildlife, from humpback and killer whales to a variety of bear species, including the rare Kermode, or spirit bear, in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Fjordland Conservancy: As one the newest Canadian marine parks, Fjordland is packed with wildlife visible along the shoreline. Wolves, deer, eagles, bears and humpback whales all call this area home. Guests will experience Kynoch Inlet, featuring a waterfall dropping directly into the fjord. Conditions permitting, guests can explore the Inlet’s Culpepper’s Lagoon with a team of naturalists.
Ketchikan & Metlakatla: Known as the King Salmon capital of the world, Ketchikan is a colorful port with charming museums and shops. Guests can choose a zip-lining tour through the forest canopy or explore Creek Street, Saxman Village, Totem Bight State Historical Park and Totem Heritage Center. The ship then calls at Metlakatla, a community sitting amidst a green temperate rainforest, where guests are introduced to Tsimshian people and their rich, complex and diverse culture and history dating back many thousands of years. Guests will also experience a private visit to the group’s Long House for a welcoming dance performance by one of the most celebrated dancing groups in Alaska. The community’s art, totem poles, canoes and intricate cedar bark baskets will also be put on full display so guests can truly immerse themselves in the Tsimshian culture.
Misty Fjords National Monument: Misty Fjords National Monument is reserved for special explorers with a thirst for rare, expedition-style cruising. It features greenery, granite cliffs and cascading waterfalls, a haven for bears, whales, sea lions, and hundreds of sea and shorebirds. Frequently draped in mist and fog, Misty Fjords National Monument makes for a stunning wilderness experience. The mountain forests, with their waterfalls, rise above, while the floodplains beneath are often frequented by bears. Guests can spend the day exploring the shoreline in Rudyerd Bay or Punchbowl Cove with the expedition team for a true close-up wilderness experience.
Wrangell & Stikine River: Wrangell was originally founded by Russia, but the Tlingit people were in this region long before Russian traders eventually settled here. Today the community shines brightly with many remnants of the Tlingit culture, making for a historically fascinating excursion. The city also features a wide range of optional adventure activities available for guests, including bear viewing at Anan Creek, jet boat rides on Stikine River, charter fishing and even ancient petroglyph viewing.
Waterfall Coast Expedition Adventure: The hidden wonders of Baranoff Island’s eastern coast will be on full display during this experience. Expert naturalist guides will take guests exploring by ship, kayak and zodiac craft among the small bays at the base of sheer mountains and cliffs. The narrow entrances and remoteness of this place mean that passenger ships seldom visit it. Home to brown bears, the surrounding meadows offer a wilderness backdrop to this day of adventurous excursions. The captain and expedition leaders will select the best spots for the day’s adventure, allowing for flexibility and freedom that sets the Alaska adventures on the Ocean Victory apart.
Petersburg & LeConte Glacier: Also known as “Little Norway,” Petersburg was originally settled by Norwegians who thought the area looked just like home. Featuring virtually every type of fishing in Alaska, the town also welcomes visitors to walk the docks to experience the coastal culture and take in the beautiful scenery. Directly across the water is Kupreanof Island, which offers fantastic trails for leisurely hiking. A floatplane experience is also an available option, providing guests a birds-eye view of the LaConte Glacier and its dramatic ice fields. The day will conclude with a cruise into the active glacier’s “Iceberg Grotto” ice fields.
Thundering Glaciers of Tracy Arm & Endicott Arm Wilderness Area: Both Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm rival the fjords of Norway, with more than 20 miles of winding inlet, as well as the Sawyer or Dawes Glacier, arguably the best tidewater glaciers in Alaska. The area is best explored by Zodiac expedition craft, allowing for easy spotting of mountain goats, harbor seals and the rare harbor porpoise. This shoreline is one of Alaska’s premier places to view black bears as they forage in the rocky intertidal area. Guests can learn about glacial geology and plant succession from an expert team of naturalists and scientists as they traverse these stunning fjords. The 11-day itinerary from Sitka to Vancouver will spend two days here with visits to the Tracy Arm, Endicott and Ford’s Terror Wilderness. The 10-day itinerary from Vancouver to Sitka will feature only one day with either the Tracy Arm or Endicott being selected based on the ice conditions of the day.
Kake & Frederick Sound Whale Watching: After a morning visit to the Tlingit village of Kake and its authentic native life, Ocean Victory will travel through “whale country.” As the home to the Five Finger Whale Research Center, the Frederick Sound is world famous as the premier destination for viewing humpbacks, orcas and dall porpoise. The ship’s naturalists, expedition team and zodiac crafts will be put to good use, providing guests with spectacular photo opportunities. A hydrophone will also be used so guests can hear the sounds of bubble feeding humpbacks.
Sitka: The cruise begins and ends in Sitka, once the Russian American capital and known as the Paris of the Pacific. Today the city is a place to explore local galleries, bookshops or enjoy local optional activities such as sea kayaking, sport fishing, whale watching and hiking. In addition, there is the Sitka National Historical Park to explore with its exhibit of Totem Poles, or guests can choose to enjoy a walking tour with a local historian. Sitka also is a perfect jumping-off point to many pre- or post-trip adventures, such as a visit to famous Glacier Bay National Park.
Bookings for Ocean Victory Alaska cruises go on sale this month, with early booking savings announced in the coming weeks. More information about included and optional shore excursions will be announced at a later date. For more information, click on www.victorycruiselines.com.