American Queen Voyages debuted its first-ever expedition ship Ocean Victory on May 7, when the vessel set sail on her inaugural voyage out of Vancouver, Canada.
Ocean Victory marks the arrival of the seventh ship to the American Queen Voyages fleet, which includes vessels sailing on rivers, lakes, and oceans.
The 186-guest ship will operate 12 and 13-day journeys between Vancouver and Sitka through September. Guests will be able to explore Alaska with the line’s expedition and excursion teams, in addition to naturalists guiding hands-on learning opportunities.
“Alaska is a unique destination that to even begin to understand its vastness demands immersion with an expedition experience,” said Shawn Bierdz, chief operating officer, American Queen Voyages.
“Ocean Victory will deliver guests an intimate sailing experience that really allows them to become captivated by the destination’s many natural wonders. We’re thrilled to have welcomed our first guests onboard as we embark on our journey to Alaska’s Inside Passage.”
Created for access to smaller ports with an X-Bow design, Ocean Victory will visit less-traveled regions of Alaska’s Inside Passage and deploy kayaks and Zodiacs so that visitors can get even more up close with nature alongside their expedition leaders. They’ll also be able to see wildlife from sliding observation platforms, talk with native Alaska leaders, and witness marine research by California Polytechnic State University students.
For Ocean Victory‘s inaugural season, American Queen Voyages has partnered with Dr. Michelle Fournet, director of the South Science Research Collective. The acoustic ecologist is an expert in the communication of North Pacific humpback whales, and was profiled along with her team in the documentary “Fathom.”
Fournet and her team will collaborate with the onboard expedition team as the ship becomes an extension of their research lab. Headphones will be used on Zodiacs to listen to the voices of Alaska’s whales in real-time. Guests will also learn about and participate in whale tracking through fluke identification by uploading their own photos from the vessel to a scientific database — following their seasonal movements.
Ocean Victory‘s inaugural Alaska season highlights include:
Anan Creek Bear and Wildlife Observatory
Guests venture into the wilderness for a look at the forest’s wildlife in its natural habitat. They’ll travel by jet boat from Wrangell through the Eastern Passage to the Anan trailhead.
Here, Anan Creek provides the perfect landscape for an observatory, as it’s one of Southeast Alaska’s largest salmon runs. This makes it a prime spot for local bears, bald eagles, and harbor seals, as well.
Five Finger Lighthouse
The historic Five Finger Lighthouse is located where Stephen’s Passage and Frederick Sound meet. The island where it sits and the surrounding waters are home to nesting seabirds, songbirds, bald eagles, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, harbor porpoise, killer whales, and humpback whales.
Kake Tlingit Village
Experiencing the traditional culture of Kake, guests will be welcomed by Tlingit residents and encouraged to participate in their traditions.
A short walk from the dock is the community hall, where a carving or weaving demonstration will take place. There, guests can step onto the dance floor where locals will perform songs and dances.
In the village, visitors will also see the world’s largest one-tree totem pole.
In Petersburg, the ship will dock right beside Alaska’s largest home-based halibut fleet. Norwegian fisherman Peter Buschmann built the region’s first cannery there, where he invited his fishing countrymen to join him — hence the town’s name.
Large cruise ships can’t get into Petersburg, so docking in this charming Alaskan village is a special treat for those sailing on small vessels like Ocean Victory.
Guests will see almost countless waterfalls on Baranof Island’s eastern coast, known as “waterfall coast.”
Some can be seen from the ship, or right at water level by Kayak or Zodiac. The shoreline is perfect for spotting seals, deer, and tidepools.
Inaugural Season Port Calls
Ocean Victory will spend the summer sailing between Vancouver and Sitka on 12 and 13-day journeys that include a pre-cruise hotel stay in Vancouver or Sitka.
Port calls and scenic cruising regions will include: Canadian Inside Passage, Fiordland (Kynoch Inlet), Ketchikan, Misty Fjords National Monument, Wrangell/Stikine River Wilderness, Waterfall Coast/Baranof Wilderness, Petersburg/Le Conte Glacier, Tracy Arm/Endicott Glacier, Kake/Frederick Sound/Five Finger, and Sitka, Alaska.