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Bucket List

Go wildlife watching in Alaska

Embark on an adventure through the wilderness in one of the most remote places on earth to spot incredible wildlife including bears, whales and fur seals in their natural habitat.

By Triona McBride

Unspoilt coastline, majestic glaciers and exceptional wildlife – Alaska has so much for travelers seeking a vacation out of the ordinary. With some amazing destinations only accessible by sea, a cruise is the best way to experience the 49th state.

Alaska is located in the extreme northwest of North America, with the Arctic Ocean to its north, the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Canadian territories of Yukon and British Columbia on its east side. Since much of it remains untouched, it has proved an invaluable habitat for many species of fish, birds and animals.


If you’re spending time in Vancouver before sailing, Stanley Park is a must-visit with over 500 species who call the place home for at least part of the year. Five pairs of breeding bald eagles nestle amid the large conifers and can often be seen foraging for food.

Beavers frequently appear at dawn and dusk, and a family of coyotes roam the park at night, not naturally nocturnal but fearful of humans. The park has one of the largest great blue heron colonies in North America.

Nome is most famous for its gold rush era, but fans of wildlife can find abundant treasures here. Brown bears roam the hillsides while muskox are often found in the willow thickets. In summer, the wetlands provide a rich feeding ground for more than 160 species of migratory birds, and you can hear their many calls.

Take to the Bering Sea and you may be rewarded with the sight of a humpback whale. Known to be more visible in the summer, the majesty of one breaching is a sight you’ll never forget.

Alaska Wildlife

St. Matthew Island is one of the most remote places on Earth. Part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, visitors can glimpse the rare McKay’s Bunting, which breeds here, along with nesting puffins and murres.

Birdwatchers should bring their binoculars to St. Paul in Alaska’s Pribilof Islands. The red-legged kittiwake breeds here and the Pribilof sandpiper is also endemic to the area

Half the world’s population of northern fur seals live around these islands, and you may even be treated to the sight of seal pups playing on the beach.

Unalaska, also known as Dutch Harbor, has a rich history to dig into, but the marine and bird life is breathtaking. On shore, you can see lemmings, foxes and stunning wild horses, along with nearly 50 million seabirds including cormorants. Its waters reveal humpback and orca whales, otters and porpoises.

Amid the verdant scenery of Katmai National Park, an experienced bear guard will accompany you to well-frequented brown bear locations. See the bears diving for clams and salmon, or foraging for berries. With a protected population of over 2,000 brown bears, this is the best place to see them.

The striking Misty Fjords National Monument is teeming with wildlife, from five species of Pacific salmon in the water, to the moose, mountain goats and black bear that roam its moss and cedar-topped cliffs.

Each day in this majestic peninsula rewards you with incredible wildlife encounters that you’ll remember forever.

Set Sail

Alaska Adventure with Royal Caribbean

Duration: 7 nights

Where: Seattle, Washington | Icy Strait Point, Alaska | Skagway, Alaska | Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, Alaska | Juneau, Alaska | Victoria, British Columbia | Seattle, Washington

Ship: Quantum of the Seas

Price: From $613 pp

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Published 07.24.23