The Fourth of July aboard National Geographic Venture proved vastly different from those its passengers had experienced in the past. Within the confines of the Inian Islands, rolling fog replaced fireworks, hotdog feasts were replaced with sea lion feeding frenzies, and we played in the cathedral of the wilderness in lieu of on the baseball diamond. One constant remained, however: bald eagles proliferated overhead.

The morning was spent kayaking as passengers explored the rocky shores of the isles. With their traveling companions, guests enjoyed intimate glimpses of the kelp forest and pigeon guillemots. Zodiac cruises rife with wildlife encounters filled the afternoon. As we zipped between the islands, hordes of subadult Steller sea lions approached our craft with intense curiosity. Their heads poked from the depths only briefly before they darted off, moving in hypnotic waves. Rockfish caught in the gyrations of the sea were forced to the surface where they were promptly snatched up by gulls, bald eagles, and sea lions. Removed from the chaos of currents and predation, sea otters wrapped within the kelp reminded us of the fantastic biodiversity of Southeast Alaska.

Currently, National Geographic Venture sits at the precipice of Glacier Bay National Park. As a waning sun bathes the shores in a golden glow, all aboard wait with bated breath for the adventures tomorrow is sure to hold.