Watching the salmon thrash and leap through Alaska’s frigid waters is always one of the highlights of an Inside Passage cruise. And now you can join them. We know what you’re thinking: Who in their right mind would choose to immerse themselves in a glacier-fed lake that averages between 40 to 55 degrees?
Thanks to InnerSea Discoveries – a sister company to American Safari Cruises that started Alaska expedition itineraries in 2011 — adventurers over the same ol’ whale-and-glacier routine can snorkel in the small bays and coves that its two ships traverse on their Inside Passage runs. And plenty of warm-blooded amphibious types are seeking them out. The dives, priced at an extra $30 for passengers on the line’s Wilderness Discoverer and Wilderness Adventurer, have been selling out (less bone-chilling ways to play in the water, such as kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, are included in the cruise price).
To prepare, snorkelers don neoprene wet suits so thick and constricting that it can take a half-hour just to roll them on. Rubber booties, forearm length gloves and whole head hoods complete the alien look.
When every inch of their body is covered, a pontoon boat or inflatable skiff brings the snorkelers out to various dive spots around Yes Bay. You’d expect that first hit in the icy water to induce yowls of protest (shrinkage, anyone?), but the wet suit does its job, keeping the eight divers comfortable during the three-hour outing.
At the first stop, the swimmers explore a sunken dock and track crabs scurrying along the shoreline. At another, they visit a rock wall to examine mussels and other sealife that lives among the ledges. To keep their lips from turning blue, crew members ply snorkelers with hot chocolate and coffee between stops.
It’s all good, of course, but the highlight of a recent snorkeling trip occurred on the way back in, after the snorkelers had explored a stream full of salmon bound for spawning. On the river bank, a mother bear and her cub wandered by, looking for their next meal.
Witnessing predator and prey, all in one day – now that’s an excursion worth stripping down for.
Too cold for you? See our First-Timer’s Guide to Shore Excursions.
We can get you there: Check out our guide to Alaska cruises.
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