Whales, Wildlife and Wilderness—Alaska

Breaching Humpbacks, Wildlife and Landscape Photography in Alaska’s Inside Passage

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Please book this cruise by our December 1st closing date to ensure your reservation

Imagine capturing the peak moment with your camera: a mighty launch rockets 40 tons of twisting whale skyward. Pectoral fins fling sparkling sheets of water, as the 45-foot-long body is almost entirely out of the water in a spectacular breaching display. This is a frequent occurrence during the summer months in Southeast Alaska where one of the world’s greatest populations of humpback whales resides. 
"Amazing opportunities for photography! Whales (breaching, bubble-net feeding and overall views), orcas, Dall's porpoises, birds, glaciers and waterfalls! What more could you ask for?! "
- D. Jackson
Chatham Strait, Frederick Sound, and the spectacular wilderness waterways of the Inside Passage are the summer feeding grounds for more than 500 humpback whales. Every year whales migrating from their winter breeding grounds in the warm waters of Hawaii, Baja California and southern Japan join the year-round population of humpback whales in the nutrient-rich waters of Alaska. Mothers with their young calves and their accompanying escorts often travel thousands of miles on this epic annual journey.

Our small photo group, cruising in a private world-class 84-foot expedition yacht, follows the largest congregations of these magnificent leviathans—with a daily itinerary and agenda that is totally ours to choose!  There is no comparison to the intimate proximity to wildlife that is accessible with this type of small boat cruising in contrast to the giant city-sized cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers that normally traverse the Inside Passage.
Humpback whales offer some of the most exciting photographic moments of all the marine mammals. Besides breaching, they often repeatedly slap their mighty tails or clap their 15-foot-long pectoral fins in the same fashion. Their cooperative bubble-net feeding displays are absolutely breathtaking! It’s an incredible scene to photograph, and we are on hand at the peak of the season to experience this truly amazing spectacle! Countless miles of dense gnarly old-growth forests, calving blue glaciers and serrate snowcapped mountains provide a pristine backdrop for classic Alaskan maritime imagery counterpointed with the smooth reflective water.
Black bear Alaskan coastIn addition to humpback whales, there may be good opportunities to capture images of orcas, Steller sea lions, sea otters, bears and bald eagles. Depending on our travels we may see spawning salmon, possibly being fed on by brown and black bears. Birdwatchers enjoy encounters with gray petrels, black-legged kittiwakes, common murres, pigeon guillemots, (endangered) marbled murrelets, arctic terns, gulls, and a variety of northwestern forest birds while we are ashore.
Join us for this unique, world-class photo shoot in the realm of the humpback whales of Alaska's Inside Passage. Each day brings new adventures amidst this pristine Alaskan wilderness. This all-inclusive luxurious photo cruise features comfortable en suite accommodations, three hearty gourmet meals each day, all beverages including select wines with dinner, and the use of sea kayaks and rigid-hulled inflatable skiffs for shore excursions. With incredible images created with the assistance of today’s image stabilized/vibration reduction lenses and digital technology, this tour defines the best of “topside” whale photography for years to come.

Check out Joe Van Os' trip report from our latest Alaska whale photo trips
For trip questions or to enroll give us a call at (206) 463-5383

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (Jun 24, 2024)
Participants should arrange to fly to Petersburg, a small charming fishing port centrally located on Alaska’s Inside Passage.  Our hotel offers an airport shuttle.  We meet in the lobby of our hotel for a short orientation followed by dinner at a local restaurant. (D)
Day 2
After lunch we begin cruising the scenic Alaskan waterways.  We should have plenty of excellent photo opportunities, including a stop at a Steller sea lion haul out and good sightings of harbor seals, Dahl porpoises and, perhaps, orcas, on our way to the humpback "core" grounds in Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait. (BLD)
Humpback tail flukeDays 3–8
We follow the largest groups of humpback whales as they travel throughout the waterways of the Inside Passage. With plenty of "shootable" daylight, we have ample opportunities to capture breaching, bubble-net and lunge-feeding behaviors. Although whales are the focus of this trip, we also visit a vast temperate rain forest of Tongass National Forest, stroll along pristine beaches, explore scenic and secluded bays, and photograph a spectacular tidewater glacier and its deep blue calved icebergs. Shore excursions will be undertaken whenever possible and provide exciting images of wildflowers, coastal forest and seaside landscapes, waterfalls and, possibly, bears feeding on salmon. (BLD)
Day 9
We return to Petersburg in the afternoon and transfer to our hotel. We have time to explore the area prior to our last group dinner. (BLD)
Day 10 (Jul 3)
The hotel shuttle transfers you to the airport for your departing flights. (B)

About Our Vessel
Our luxurious private expedition yacht is the 84-foot Northern Song, a rugged steel cruiser built in 1997, perfect for exploration of Alaska’s legendary Inside Passage. Northern Song offers an ideal balance of public and personal space with ample outdoor areas for wildlife observation, plus a spacious salon with a fully-equipped media suite. The huge pilot house can seat 10 for whale spotting and general sightseeing. Best of all, the boat is well-suited for photography in both fair and moderately inclement weather with a great deal of bow space for shooting marine mammals, birds and landscapes. Your fishing, crabbing and shrimping aspirations can be fulfilled during quiet times with the purchase of an Alaska fishing license. We believe Northern Song is among the finest boats available for whale photography in Southeast Alaska!


Click to Enlarge Photos:

Northern SongBridge of Northern SongDining RoomLounge AreaDeck PlanMain Deck, SuiteMain Deck, Suite - View 2Main Deck, Suite - View 3Lower Deck Stateroom - Upper/Lower Berths
Rate Schedule

The spacious Master Stateroom on the Main Deck features a queen bed and en suite bathroom with separate bathtub/stall shower. $15,995 per person, double occupancy. (The boat has one of these suites)

The three Guest Staterooms are on the lower deck and feature private bathrooms with showers. Each of these staterooms feature double lower beds and single upper berths. $14,995 per person, double occupancy

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Whales, Wildlife and Wilderness—Alaska

Jun 24, 2024 - Jul 03, 2024

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure and may be paid by check or bank transfer. If you wish to make your final payment with a credit card a 3% convenience fee will be charged.
We must receive written notice of your cancellation. Based on the cancellation date the following applies:
Trip deposits are non-refundable.
150-91 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 50% of the total trip cost.
90-61 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 75% of the total trip cost.
Within 60 days of the start of the trip: No refund.
If, on the trip start date, your space has been resold and the tour is full—as designated by “Limit” number of travelers on the tour website page—we will refund your payment, minus the non-refundable trip deposit and any discounts given to resell your space.
No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.
Emergency evacuation insurance is REQUIRED for this tour. Upon request, we can provide travel insurance options that includes the required medical evacuation insurance. Participants purchasing trip insurance on their own should confirm that emergency evacuation is included in their policy.

We strongly encourage you to protect your travel investment and purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. We can provide travel insurance options, or it can be purchased online. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available. Trip participants without travel protection insurance are considered “self-insured.” Without insurance you assume all risks and losses for any conditions requiring your cancellation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you, or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health, including viral illnesses, occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, and applicable health advisories. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or email address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or email messages to info@photosafaris.com.

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific details that are included in your trip fee. Generally, these include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch, or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, internal tour air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages, and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry, or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Most of our trips are priced in double occupancy (shared) accommodations. Single accommodation is available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodation or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations, and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins, or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea is included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two people traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motor coach, automobile, van, boat, ship or aircraft or any other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non -refundable air tickets, visa fees, travel insurance premiums and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure or disease outbreak in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A signed Registration Form with the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be returned by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington.

I have read, understand, and agree to the terms, conditions, and provisions of the enrollment information, as stated on the Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris website and the Enrollment Conditions section of this form, especially noting the policy on cancellations, refunds, and limitations on responsibility.

I am aware that during any trip or tour that I am voluntarily participating in under the arrangements of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., a Washington corporation, and its employees, agents and associates, certain risks and dangers exist while traveling in the United States, foreign countries, and wilderness areas in any country or territory that include the possibility of property damage, bodily injury, and death. There is a possibility of accident or illness occurring without access to immediate or timely medical treatment or facilities. There is a risk of tropical or communicable diseases that may require quarantine and removal from the tour at my expense, food-related illnesses, the risk of personal injury and property damage or delay or inconvenience by forces of nature, wildlife or wildlife models, quarantine, political instability, acts of terrorism, strikes, government restrictions or regulations change, thefts, and the risk of accidents during travel while on foot or by aircraft, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, ship, or other conveyance. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of this trip or tour. In consideration of, and as part payment for the right to participate in such trips, tours and/or other activities and services arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates, I have and do hereby assume all risks, and hereby release Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents and associates, and will hold them harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of actions, debts, claims, and demands of every kind and nature, howsoever caused, which I now have or which may arise of or in connection with any of my trips or tours and participation in any activities arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this Agreement, I agree to indemnify them and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I agree to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington and further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict-of-law rules of that state. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of all risk for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, and for all members of my family.

If any part, article, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this Agreement is not enforceable, the affected provision shall be curtailed and limited only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of the law, and the remainder of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents, and associates, based on any and all claims from which I have released them.

Whales, Wildlife and Wilderness—Alaska: Easy Activity Level

Luxury yacht transportation. Seventy-five percent of our photography will take place from the boat. Expect mostly calm water but seasickness prophylaxis is recommended for those who may be affected until you “get your sea legs.” Shore excursions will be undertaken whenever possible to stroll secluded beaches and explore rain forest trails. Kayaks are available.

Trip Details
Jun 24 - Jul 03, 2024
Fee: From $14,995 per person, double occupancy, depending on cabin selected departing Petersburg, Alaska
Deposit: 25% of cabin fee
Limit: 7 participants
Activity Level: EasyEasy

Cabin Fees
Lower Deck Guest Stateroom: $14,995 per person

Main Deck Master Stateroom: $15,995 per person
  • Eight days on board a luxurious private yacht designed to get “up-close and personal” to breaching whales and other photogenic Alaskan wildlife
  • Photograph one of the world’s most spectacular examples of animal cooperation—humpback bubble-net feeding
  • Cruise Alaska’s legendary and unspoiled Inside Passage at prime whale-viewing time
  • Towering snowcapped mountains and glaciers of Tongass National Forest provide dramatic landscape photography opportunities
  • Tour group size limited to only 7 participants
  • A trip a non-photographing spouse will thoroughly enjoy
  • Includes all meals, two nights hotel lodging, boat and ground transportation, entrance fees, photo guide and instruction
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Tour Leaders
Gary Alt

Gary Alt