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Whales, Wildlife and Wilderness, Alaska

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

Imagine capturing this peak moment in Alaska 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.

30I9362 - alaska

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.

30I5127 - alaska

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.

30I2096 - alaska

In 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.

210621210621 EX10738 - alaska

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.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (June 24, 2025)
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)

Days 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 (July 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 view larger image

Rate Schedule

The spacious Master Stateroom on the Main Deck features a queen bed and en suite bathroom with separate bathtub/stall shower. $16,395 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. $15,395 per person, double occupancy.

Tour Details

Jun 24 2025 – Jul 03 2025
Register Now
Fee: From $15,395 from Petersburg, Alaska
Deposit: 25% of cabin fee
Limit: 7 participants
Activity Level: Easy
*Fee notes: Cabin Fees - Lower Deck Guest Stateroom: $15,395 - Main Deck Master Stateroom: $16,395
Single Supplement: $225 in Petersburg hotel only
» Terms and Conditions

Special Terms and Conditions Apply

Tour Highlights

  • 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

YouTube Video

Tour Details

Jun 24 2025 – Jul 03 2025
Register Now
Fee: From $15,395 from Petersburg, Alaska
Deposit: 25% of cabin fee
Limit: 7 participants
Activity Level: Easy
*Fee notes: Cabin Fees - Lower Deck Guest Stateroom: $15,395 - Main Deck Master Stateroom: $16,395
Single Supplement: $225 in Petersburg hotel only
» Terms and Conditions

Special Terms and Conditions Apply

Imagine capturing this peak moment in Alaska 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.

30I9362 - alaska

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.

30I5127 - alaska

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.

30I2096 - alaska

In 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.

210621210621 EX10738 - alaska

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.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (June 24, 2025)
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)

Days 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 (July 3)
The hotel shuttle transfers you to the airport for your departing flights. (B)

Tour Highlights

  • 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

YouTube Video

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 view larger image

Rate Schedule

The spacious Master Stateroom on the Main Deck features a queen bed and en suite bathroom with separate bathtub/stall shower. $16,395 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. $15,395 per person, double occupancy.

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Van Os Photo Safaris uses the information you provide to contact you about our upcoming tours, special offers, and trip reports. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time.
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