Wildlife Watching in Sitka, Alaska
I can’t believe it has already been a month since we returned from our Alaskan cruise! This summer is flying by and there is so much going on in the upcoming months that I know those are going to fly by as well. Between now and November 1, I’ll be visiting Cleveland, Kansas City, Germany and Prague, Louisville, the Finger Lakes in New York, and Las Vegas. Two of those trips are for weddings, but they’re trips nonetheless. I am super excited and love the planning part, but it does consume a whole lot of my free time. I’m hoping to wrap up these Alaska posts just it time for the next exciting trip to roll in!
Our second port of call in Alaska was Sitka where we booked an excursion through Holland America with Allen Marine Tours for their Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest. A quick note on cruise excursions – I highly recommend booking most, if not all, of your cruise excursions prior to sailing. I booked all of our excursions a few months in advance to make sure we were able to do exactly what we wanted and also get a bit of a discount through Holland America’s website. All of our tickets were waiting for us when we boarded the ship in Seattle and we didn’t have to worry about a thing!
Ok, so back to the Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest. Our glacier trek in Juneau was a hard act to follow, but our day in Sitka proved that Alaska is a whole lot more than helicopters and glaciers – but you knew that already, didn’t you? The photos I have from our day in Sitka are probably my favorite of the trip; I rented a great Canon telephoto lens from Dodd Camera and while it was big and heavy and not the easiest thing to carry around, the shots I was able to get with it well worth the trouble!
We had an early start in Sitka at 7am. Before we left the ship I had my first bald eagle sighting – three of them hanging out on a rock right in front of our balcony! Our excursion boat picked us up right from the ship and we were off!
The crew with Allen Marine Tours was excellent and you could tell they had done this a time or two. The captain and the naturalists on board that were able to give us information on the area and all the wildlife we were seeing. Just 10 to 15 minutes in we saw our first bald eagle (on top of the tree on the far left of the first photo below) and then saw several more as we cruised along.
As we continued on we had our next exciting sighting – a large group of mama and baby otters! These guys were just the cutest and I probably have at least 50 pictures of them! Our captain was able to get us as close as he possible could without scaring them off and thanks to my lens, we got an even closer look at their cute little mugs!
Next up was our most exciting sighting of the day – a mother and baby humpback whale. We followed these two for quite some time and got a few good back and tail views before all of a sudden the baby decided it was showtime. Baby H fully breached multiple times, the first time right next to our boat. It was so amazing to see and it was the cherry on top of an already impressive day.
Eventually the show was over and we cruised on to see a glimpse of another whale and some seals from afar before heading back in after about 4 hours. We had bouts of wind and rain on the top deck and the waxed cotton of my new Barbour jacket proved it’s worth! We didn’t have much time before our cruise ship departed but we managed to find a little time to grab some amazing fish & chips from Van Winkle’s and do some quick shopping in town. As the ms Westerdam sailed towards Ketchikan that night we caught a beautiful sunset to end another amazing day in Alaska!