On day 3 of the Alaskan Cruise on the Norwegian Sun, we had fog most of the way from Hubbard Glacier to Icy Straight Point. Icy Straight Point is just down the road from the town of Hoonah. The Icy Straight Point Cruise destination used to be an old Salmon Cannery.
We were tendered in a small boat from the cruise ship to the Icy Straight Point port. Since we were on an excursion, we were one of the first groups to leave the cruise ship.
Today, we had the Whales, Wildlife & Brown Bear Search Excursion. The price of this excursion is $249 per person.
We first boarded a double decker catamaran for whale watching. On the Catamaran, there were two enclosed seating areas on the first two floors and an open deck on the rear of the second deck. Once we stopped, the crew opened up additional outside decks on the top floor and front of the boat.
Icy Straight Point Cruise Ship Destination. The cables that you see are for the worlds largest ZipRider
It was a little crowded on the open decks once the boat stopped and if you left the railing you risked losing your spot. We were whale watching at Icy Straight Point for about 1 1/2 hours before we returned. We did see numerous humpback whales and some of them were very close to the boat. I was able to photograph several tail shots.
For the bear watching portion, we took a bus past the town of Hoonah and into the Tongass National Forest. We walked a trail by the Spasski River and stopped at 3 observation platforms. We did see two Coastal Brown Bears, but they were way too far away for a decent photograph. We also had several Bald Eagle Flybys that provided some decent photo opportunities. On the way to the forest trail, there were several types of wildflowers to photograph including Shooting Stars and Wild Cotton.
My Canon 300mm f/4 lens with the 1.4x teleconverter worked great for photographing the Humpback Whales. While a 600mm with a 1.4x teleconverter wouldn't have been long enough for the brown bears. I also brought along a second camera body and Canon 24 – 105mm with a polarizer for landscape photos.
Overall, it was a good day at Icy Straight Point. The fog lifted and the sun came out. The Whale Watching was definitely worth it, while the bears not as much. Tomorrow, we are off to Juneau.