From BC to Alaska: New Cruise Sets Sail

American Queen Voyages is debuting its first-ever Expedition experience with the inaugural sailing of Ocean Victory, which departed Vancouver, B.C. May 7, 2022. Ocean Victory marks the arrival of the seventh vessel to the American Queen Voyages fleet, which also includes Rivers, Lakes & Oceans experiences.

The new 186-guest vessel, created for intimate access with an innovative X-Bow design, will sail between Vancouver, B.C., and Sitka, Alaska, on 12- and 13-day cruises May through September. Guests can expect up-close encounter travel experiences in The Last Frontier, working closely with the seasoned expedition and award-winning American Queen Voyages shore excursions teams, in addition to naturalists guiding hands-on learning opportunities, and more.

“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 intimate access with an innovative X-Bow design, the vessel sails the less-traveled regions of Alaska’s Inside Passage where like-minded explorers will deploy kayaks and Zodiacs with expedition leaders, view wildlife from sliding observation platforms, witness marine research by California Polytechnic State University students in real-time and have engaging discussions with native Alaska leaders.

“As we celebrate the debut of Ocean Victory, I am inspired by our growth from a one paddlewheel cruise line, the American Queen, to a fleet of vessels this very day sailing Mississippi, Kentucky, Washington, Prince Edward Island and Quebec,” shared John Waggoner, founder and chairman of American Queen Voyages. “Today we call on over 125 ports with seven vessels, employing over 670 teammates – far exceeding even the dreams of this boy of just one boat.”

As part of the American Queen Voyages expedition experience, the line has partnered with Dr. Michelle Fournet, director of the Sound Science Research Collective, for the inaugural Alaska expedition season of Ocean Victory.  The acclaimed acoustic ecologist is a leading expert in the communication of North Pacific humpback whales, and was profiled along with her Sound Science Research Collective team in the acclaimed documentary “Fathom.”

Fournet and the Sound Science Research Collective will collaborate with the American Queen Voyages expedition team as the ship becomes an extension of their research lab. Hydrophones will be used onboard 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.

In port, inclusive shore excursions with knowledgeable experts and expedition guides provide meaningful opportunities to uncover the rich history, unique wildlife and fascinating cultures of each destination. Equipped with a fleet of Zodiacs and  kayaks, the itineraries will provide guests with in-depth explorations of Alaska’s natural, historic and cultural treasures.

The Ocean Victory inaugural Alaska season program highlights include:

Anan Creek Bear and Wildlife Observatory: Guests venture into the Alaskan wilderness for a once-in-a-lifetime look at the forest’s wildlife in their natural habitat. They will 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 is one of the largest salmon runs in Southeast Alaska. This makes it a prime location for the local bear population to feed, as well as bald eagles and harbor seals. At the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory, guests will experience up-close views of these majestic creatures.

Five Finger Lighthouse: The historic Five Finger Lighthouse is located at the confluence of Stephen’s Passage and Frederick Sound in Southeast Alaska. The island on which it sits and the surrounding waters are a home to nesting seabirds, foraging songbirds, bald eagles, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, harbor porpoise, transient killer whales and large numbers of humpback whales.

Kake Tlingit Village: Experiencing the traditional culture of Kake, guests will be warmly welcomed by the Tlingit residents and encouraged to participate in their long-standing traditions. Just a short walk from the dock is the community hall, where a carving or weaving demonstration will take place. Then, guests can step onto the dancefloor where locals will perform traditional songs and dances. Finally they will see the world’s largest one-tree totem pole.

Petersburg: In Petersburg, the Ocean Victory docks right beside Alaska’s largest home-based halibut fleet, which call this shallow, protected harbor home. These abundant waters, and an endless supply of ice from nearby LeConte Glacier, led Norwegian fisherman Peter Buschmann to build the region’s first cannery and invite his fishing countrymen to join him –  hence the town’s name and its strong Norwegian culture. Large cruise ships cannot come into Petersburg, so guests will be among a privileged few to dock in this charming, authentic Alaskan village.

Waterfall Coast: Guests will challenge themselves to keep track of the number of waterfalls encountered along Baranof Island’s beautiful eastern coast, the little known “waterfall coast.” Some can be seen from any of Ocean Victory’s observation perspectives, or right at water level by kayak or Zodiac. This almost hidden shoreline is perfect for discovery with seals, deer, and tidepools ready to reveal secret treasures.

The brand new expedition ship Ocean Victory will sail between Vancouver, B.C. and Sitka, Alaska on 12- and 13-day journeys including a pre-cruise hotel stay in Vancouver, B.C. or Sitka, and calling on: 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. Sailings are available May through September 2022.

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Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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