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Tales from the Tour: Discover Southeast Alaska An interview with Orbridge's Dan Stypa

A cruise to Alaska. You've long dreamt about it and perhaps have looked online, read forums, and conducted a bit of research, but what's the experience really like? How does one choose a cruise? Much depends on what you want to get out of the journey.

At Orbridge, several team members recently accompanied treasured guests to experience first-hand our eight-day small-ship adventure in Alaska. Join us as we go behind-the-scenes with Director of Sales Dan Stypa to ask what this group saw, experienced, ate, and felt!

Q: Dan, Alaska's beauty is legendary, and it's one of the main reasons it is such a bucket-list destination. What did you find to be particularly breathtaking to behold?

A: Exploring this area of our country is an experience like none other. While we were incredibly fortunate to have picture perfect weather the majority of our cruise, even the cloudy and damp days added a mystic aura that brought the region to life.

Alaska's magnificent scenery delights the eyes ... and stirs the soul.

Q: Wow, so lovely! Speaking of "life," how much wildlife did the group see?

A: Wildlife was abundant—various species of whales, sea lions, bald eagles, bears, and more were seen throughout the tour. Seeing them engage in their natural habitats undisturbed by human kind was a transformative experience. Because Orbridge charters the Chichagof Dream and it's a small vessel with no more than 76 guests, the Captain is able to pivot on the drop of the dime when wildlife is spotted. One night at dinner in particular, he basically brought the boat to a snail's pace crawl so that we could enjoy whales breaching. Talk about dinner and a show!

A visit to "The Last Frontier" provides opportunities to view wildlife not seen every day in the lower 48 states.

Q: Ah, yes, the ship. Guests tell us our small-ship, small-group adventure to Alaska really stands out as a hands-on, intimate experience. Compared to traveling by large vessel, it's the "difference of being in Alaska, and not just looking at Alaska." It sounds like from your trip you can relate.

A. Yes, I couldn't have put it better myself. This experience was truly immersive. We kayaked along the shore looking at the sea stars and jellies, we took skiff rides as close as safely possible to icebergs in Tracy Arm Fjord, we walked through salmon hatcheries and saw inches away from us the processes that take place, we had front row seats at a local cultural performance in Petersburg where school children performed Norwegian dances, and the list goes on and on. On this tour, you are a part of it—not an observer or outsider.

Explore Alaska on an active, exciting expedition to learn about the region’s iconic wildlife, epic landscapes, and rich cultural heritage.

Q: How was the food throughout the itinerary? And what was your favorite amenity onboard the Chichagof Dream?

A: Goodness—it was such a delight! I consider myself a "foodie" and enjoy a nice glass of wine and local beer, and I was so impressed with the culinary treats during this entire tour. Prime rib, crab cakes, locally sourced seafood, made-to-order omelettes each morning, made-from-scratch desserts (my favorite was the tuxedo cake), local beer choices from the on-board bar, and much, much more. Even with my low-carb lifestyle, there were always many options.

And while I know it's not an amenity per se, one of my other favorite things about the Chichagof Dream was truly the crew itself. They are from all walks of life and representative of the world we live in today. They deeply care about the guest experience and do anything and everything they can to make the experience far exceed expectations. In fact, I've already connected with some of them on social media after the tour and look forward to our paths crossing again—hopefully sooner rather than later.

On board the ship are your knowledgeable crew, Orbridge Expedition Leader, and expert naturalists who share their hospitality and passion for the surrounding beauty, The Chichagof Dream's well-appointed, but unassuming style provides expansive viewing areas, an open wheelhouse policy for stopping in to visit the captain and officers, and a Himalayan salt cave (pictured above) for relaxation.

Q: Did anything surprise you about the experience, and lastly, what advice would you give to someone thinking about taking Orbridge's Alaska cruise? Is it suitable for families and for solo travelers?

A: I was surprised just how laid back and casual the entire tour was. While I brought a few dressy outfits, I used them not one time—in fact, I wished that I'd packed more shorts and t-shirts given the weather we enjoyed!

If you are considering the Orbridge Alaska cruise, I can enthusiastically say from my experience, "Do it!" Especially as the world continues to re-open, more and more travelers are getting back to checking off destinations from their bucket lists. The difference with this cruise is that you'll do much more than simply "check off" a destination—you'll enjoy and engage with Alaska in wonderful, real, and unexpected ways.

Solo travelers, families, friends, couples, and more will have the time of their lives. In fact, on our tour, our small group included solo travelers, grandparents with grandchildren, an aunt and her niece, couples, groups of friends, and colleagues who all vacationed together. We had a really terrific time!

Join a small group of like-minded travelers and share interests and life-changing experiences in Alaska. Great memories and new friendships are for the making!
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Orbridge Destination Specialists
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