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60 seconds with Sam: Discover Southeast Alaska

Orbridge travel programs are carefully developed and executed by our skilled and passionate team who visits the locations and properties, and experiences each aspect of the programs. Their detailed reports offer valuable observations and highlights that may be useful for prospective travelers. The following is a 60-second interview we'd like to share.

You joined the optional pre-tour to Denali National Park. What was your initial impression when arriving in Fairbanks?
Fairbanks is quintessential Alaska—one minute you’ve got strip malls and Starbucks, and the next you are on a gravel road with nothing around. It’s an amazing place everyone should visit, if for nothing else, to see how easy you’ve got it! I for one am quick forget how big Alaska really is (and how few people live there). When we left Fairbanks on the train it was many, many miles before we saw any further sign of civilization—and that was a little cabin in the woods, way off the grid with very limited access points.

What was your favorite highlight of the program?
The train ride during the pre-tour. And the whales. And the waterfall we visited outside of Petersburg. And the sea otters. Maybe that would be it, the sea otters. When I was last in Southeast Alaska on a boat trip, we did not see a single sea otter. There are now more than 5,000 in Glacier Bay alone—we saw them everywhere. Do you know what a group of otters is called? A “cuddle.” And when they are resting on the surface of the water, they’ll hold hands to avoid drifting away from each other.

The Admiralty Dream’s crew deserves a big shout-out, too. They’re a wonderful group of folks and they really did make the trip that much more amazing.

What do you think travelers will enjoy the most?
Besides the crew and the onboard meals, the wildlife and scenery. There are 60 humpback whales that know the learned trait of bubble net feeding. One evening we saw three different groups, approximately 30 whales, bubble net feeding. This was an unusually high number of whales to see during this trip, but what a show for our guests!

What local person made the biggest impact on you?
Our onboard naturalists were amazing. The ship’s captain did a fantastic job of “putting” us near all the amazing wildlife. And no irony meant, but the bartender, too. He was a surprising fount of knowledge and offered insight into various aspects of the ship.

What surprised you the most about this program?
I’ve been to Alaska before and have been talking to and about this journey for a number of years so not much surprised me. I was really impressed by the crew. They were polite, courteous and responsive. I was also impressed by the sheer numbers of animals we saw.

Why should travelers get excited about this destination?
It will take you to a part of the world you’ve likely never been before. Alaska is truly a wild place—even today you can end up on a beach, in a cove and feel like you are the only person to have ever been there. There are so many unique and unusual things and places that Alaska has to offer. And did I mention the wildlife? We saw so many animals—bears (black and brown) and whales and sea otters, sea lions and seals. Not to mention puffins and all various other kinds of birds and moose, elk and caribou.