Natural Habitat Adventures (Nat Hab) has chartered a ship -- rechristened the M/V Natural Habitat Ursus -- to offer new Alaska cruise itineraries in 2015 focused on coastal brown bears.
Two versions of the trip are scheduled weekly from mid June through mid September 2015: Alaska’s Coastal Grizzlies: Kodiak to Katmai (seven days) and Alaska’s Coastal Grizzlies: Kodiak to Katmai Photo Tour (eight days). The rate is from $7,995 per person, double occupancy. Photo-focused departures are led by a naturalist guide who is also a professional photographer.
M/V Natural Habitat Ursus (Latin for ‘bear’) has been recently refurbished to provide comfortable accommodations. It was originally built in 1984 as a crab fishing boat called Time Bandit, which plied the stormy waters of the Bering Sea and gained fame in the Discovery Channel TV series "The Deadliest Catch." Its shallow draft allows cruising near the shoreline, where guests can watch bears forage in meadows and dig clams on the tide flats in remote Katmai National Park on the Alaska Peninsula.
The route is flexible in order to follow the bears. The Ursus accommodates a maximum of eight travelers in four guest cabins with upper/lower bunks. It carries a full complement of state-of-the-art navigation and safety equipment. Guests share two toilets and two showers. A well-lit galley and dining area provide for conversation over gourmet meals prepared each day by the onboard chef. Fresh Alaskan seafood, including halibut, salmon and crab, highlight the menu.
The adventure begins on Kodiak Island where guests are introduced to Alaska Native and Russian cultures. A local boat excursion follows rocky shorelines for sightings of sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles and occasionally whales. A floatplane on Day 3 flies guests to Kukak Bay to meet the M/V Natural Habitat Ursus, which immediately begins cruising slowly along the coast toward Hallo Bay to spot the first bears. Days 4 through 6 is focused on bear viewing.
Via skiff guests reach shore to explore on foot, guided by a highly experienced Expedition Leader. On Day 7 guests depart from Kodiak.
NHA expedition leader Brad Josephs leads the Kodiak to Katmai Photography Tour (10 dates have been scheduled for 2015).