At 6:49 a.m., the voice of expedition leader Travis Patten came over the PA system. Some of us were still lost in dreamland as we sat up to the news that two humpback whales were lunge feeding off the bow near shore. Until breakfast was served, we enjoyed their show as they brought their massive jaws out of the water time and time again to trap shiny, silver fish for an early meal. Cruising means a bit of time to rest and enjoy some of the expert presentations by expedition staff. Jeff Grover explained the exotic terrains of Southeast Alaska just after breakfast to give our rock lovers a bit of context. As our Global Explorers gathered on the back deck to measure their wingspans compared to birds, National Geographic Quest nosed near a breath-taking waterfall. But wait…things wouldn’t be complete without another humpback whale! A single humpback moved across the bay, repeatedly blowing a wall of bubbles to trap fish that it lunged out of the water to feed on. A simply unbeatable morning was topped off with a presentation on expedition photography by Ivan Vasquez.

The afternoon’s activities at Takatz Bay included leisurely and bushwhack hikes as well as Zodiac rides to look for wildlife. The Zodiac tour included views of some of the stunning waterfalls that surround the bay. The waters were thick with undulating lion’s mane jellyfish. We were also greeted by a few local harbor seals and Steller sea lions. During the bushwhack, guests were treated to a high elevation gain workout on bear paths. Signs of coastal brown bears covered the forest as we pushed through to the next peak. Unexpected muskegs and caves were highlights of this trip, and guests crossed their first beaver dam. While the casual hike option generally offers an opportunity to move slower and relax, Alaska had a bit more in store for our guests today. After exploring the intercoastal area of a small rocky beach for over a half hour, an unexpected visitor arrived. An adult coastal brown bear wandered out into the clearing and began munching on the ocean side salad buffet. Guests were able to view the bear go about its business for nearly an hour before they headed back to the ship. What a day!

Back on the ship, guests of National Geographic Quest met for drinks during cocktail hour to share highlights from their day. I think all will remember their first time in Takatz Bay.