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15 nights
from £7445

Great Land of Alaska

A voyage from Vancouver to Anchorage aboard the luxurious L’Austral

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  • Wildlife Tours/ Natural World
  • Bald Eagle, Misty Fjord, Alaska

Few places left on earth offer the traveller as much untamed scenic grandeur as the great land of Alaska and the coastal waters between Vancouver and Seward are amongst the most beautiful on earth. For more than 1600 miles, nature puts on a show with each day presenting new wonders. Cliffs that soar 3000 feet from the water’s edge, spectacular glaciers that press into narrow channels and break into thunderous roars and dense forests which crowd the coastline and cradle entire ecosystems. Witnessing this vast landscape has a humbling effect on those who journey along the dramatic fjord and coastal scenery and viewing the Alaskan wildlife in their natural habitat is a wonderful experience. Words cannot adequately describe what it feels like to see a whale gracefully breach above the sea’s surface or watch a grizzly hunt for spawning salmon in the gushing Alaskan rivers.

There is no shortage of vessels plying the Alaskan waters. However, we believe the small ship experience is far preferable to cruising on one of the vast resort ships with their 2000 passengers and have therefore chartered the L’Austral for our voyage. Discerning travellers will appreciate this rich itinerary that explores the many facets of Alaska; and unlike the big resort ships who have a set course on the wide channels, our luxury expedition vessel will be able to navigate narrow fjords and passages and for a real close up experience we will use the onboard Zodiacs. For those who really wish to experience the magic of the wilderness, to come close to nature and enjoy the serenity

of the vast landscape, this is the perfect voyage and ship. Travelling with approximately 200 fellow passengers, you will explore in small parties ashore and visit places which the passengers aboard the big ships will never be taken.

Gaze skyward in awe of the sheer cliffs of Tracy Arm. Listen for the sound of thundering waterfalls and the crack of glaciers calving into the sea. Experience remote villages and learn of the fascinating culture of the Tlingit people. Furthermore your experience will be enhanced by our onboard team of experts who will accompany you on the Zodiacs, hold daily lectures and briefings and lead guided nature walks ashore.

 

  • Travel Blog

    Alaska is big country! The scenery is majestic. Towering, forest clad mountains rear up on either side of the Caledonian Sky as she navigates the narrow passages leading ever northwards into the Alaskan wilderness.

    Canada is behind us. The Canadian pilots have left, and the Alaskan pilots are aboard. Now all we are waiting for are the immigration officials who have to clear us into the United States. As we sail slowly across mirror calm seas, we hear the constant drone of aircraft engines. Not the high whine of turbines, as most of us are used to, but the throaty growl of radial engines. This is seaplane country, and the seaplane of choice is the trusty De Havilland Beaver!

    As we enter the sheltered fiord that will be our private airport, we are rewarded with another Alaskan icon. Feeding quietly on the shore is a brown bear. It seems somehow incongruous that this magnificent animal, one with such a fearsome reputation, should be quietly eating grass, but there it is, in clear view of all.

    Not even the noise of the aircraft carrying the officials, inevitably a Beaver, disturbs the bear as it munches away. We are all enthralled at the sight of the animal, so unconcerned by our ship and the aircraft, in an environment that seems not to have changed for thousands of years.

    And then there was Petersburg. What could be better than a small town on the 4th of July?

    We Zodiaced into the small harbour, lined with fishing boats. The town was decorated with flags and bunting, and everybody seemed to be involved in the big parade. There were goodies on sale on the pavements, dogs in costume, the local hockey team on a float, girls on roller skates and Chris in a kilt. We watched local activities, rubber duck races, with the water provided by the fire department, and best of all, the egg throwing contest! There was a danger of being caught by the overthrows, but is was great fun, and the winners somehow managed to throw an egg, and catch it without breaking, at a distance of close to forty yards!

    As we left in the afternoon, the local wildlife put on its own show for us. A massive Stellar’s Sealion roamed the harbour, finding scraps of fish and feeding messily on them. The Bald Eagles soared above us, sometimes three or four at a time, looking for food. Cameras clicked as they swooped, spectacularly but unsuccessfully on unsuspecting fish as the last Zodiac glided quietly back to the ship.

    Zodiac cruises enable us to really get into this wilderness, without disturbing it. We see magnificent waterfalls tumbling hundreds of feet into the sea, the rock polished like semi-precious stone, revealing the patterns within. The Zodiacs take us into the ice, nimbly dodging large chunks of ice as we make our way to the Sawyer glacier. The colour of the ice is fascinating. Some pieces are glass-clear, others show an infinite variety of shades of blue!

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L’Austral

L’Austral

We are delighted to be working with our associates La Compagnie du Ponant and the luxurious L’Austral. This superb mega-yacht with 132 cabins is the result of the expertise of the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and French sophistication, as interpreted by designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. The vessel offers a subtle blend of sophistication combined with casual comfort creating the feeling of being on a private yacht, and allows us to explore with ease with plentiful visits ashore. After a day of exploration, you can return to personalised comfort and luxurious surroundings as well as high quality cuisine.

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Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Vancouver.

Enjoy a scheduled flight. Arrive this afternoon and transfer to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 2 - Vancouver.

Enjoy a morning at leisure to explore independently. Take a stroll around this charming city and perhaps visit Chinatown, Gastown and Stanley Park. This afternoon meet at the hotel for a transfer to L’Austral moored in the city.

Day 3 - Johnstone Strait & Alert Bay.

This morning we will cruise through the Seymour Narrows and then Johnstone Strait, one of the best orca whale watching waters in the world. At lunchtime we arrive in Alert Bay on northern Vancouver Island. Visit the town and see the colourful totem park and cemetery. For those wanting a brisk walk, hike above town on a boardwalk trail through a drowned cedar forest which rises on a forested hillside and then drops down to the Umista Cultural Centre. In the Cultural Centre view the famous “Potlatch Collection” display of masks and regalia. Walk the short distance to the “Big House” to watch a dance presentation by some Kwakwaka’wakw Dancers.

Day 4 - Fjordland.

Off the beaten path on a waterway far to the east of the usual ship route is one of the newest Canadian Parks, Fjordland. Seldom visited and truly magnificent, this area is packed with wildlife. Humpback whales, wolves, deer, eagles, harbour seals and dolphins are often seen here.

Day 5 - Misty Fjords.

This morning retrace a portion of Captain George Vancouver’s voyage through this region. L’Austral will cruise into Rudyerd Bay, one of the great bays of Misty Fjords National Monument. Gigantic granite domes, forested hills and huge waterfalls are everywhere in this beautiful spot. If we are lucky, we might glimpse the great Alaskan brown bear, a frequent visitor to these streams whilst in the skies we will see bald eagles circling overhead.

Day 6 - Petersburg & Le Conte Glacier.

Over breakfast we will cruise through the spectacular Wrangell narrows before arriving at the village of Petersburg, a commercial fishing harbour. From here we will take a nature walk either looking for bears, dear, eagles and other large birds of the area or alternatively discovering the plants and flowers. Continue this afternoon to Le Conte Glacier. Set deep in a steep-sided fjord choked with gigantic icebergs, we will approach it in our Zodiacs, ice conditions permitting. View the massive glacier as it winds its way down from the mighty Stikine Icefield.

Day 7 - Tracy Arm & Endicott Arm.

A journey along the winding Tracy Arm Fjord leads us some twenty miles through an ethereal wilderness of soaring peaks and high cliffs, crystalline icebergs and tumbling waterfalls to the foot of the twin Sawyer Glaciers. These icy blue glaciers are unrivalled in their majestic beauty. Explore in Zodiacs with our naturalists and see calving glaciers, often mirrored in the glassy fjord water. Also keep an eye out for harbour seals, porpoises and hopefully bears.

Day 8 - The Brothers & Kake.

This morning we arrive at The Brothers, a group of three small islands off the southern coast of Admiralty Island. These remote islands are a photographer’s paradise and we will keep a lookout for whales, Steller sea lions and eagles. Over lunch we sail to Kupreanof Island and the small Tlingit community of Kake. Here we will walk to the salmon hatchery where black bears feast on the plentiful supply of salmon in the local stream. We also have time to enjoy the hospitality of the local community and can view the 128 foot totem pole, one of the largest in the world.

Day 9 - Tebenkof Bay & Baranof Island.

In Tebenkof Bay we will use our Zodiacs to explore this complex of fertile fjords carved into 65 mile-long Kuiu Island. Marine mammals thrive in Tebenkof, including humpback, minke, and orca whales, porpoise, harbour seals, northern sea lions, and sea otter. Eagles and other marine birds abound whilst on land there are black bears, timber wolves, Sitka black-tailed deer, river otters, mink, martin, beaver, and more. Over lunch we sail through the Chatham Straits to Baranof Island. It is a rugged and beautiful island with many coves, bays and inlets featuring towering peaks with alpine glaciers and waterfalls draining its lush rain forests.

Day 10 - Point Adolphus & Elfin Cove.

At breakfast time we will arrive at Point Adolphus, across from the entrance to Glacier Bay. Here on the exposed rocks we will see groups of Steller sea lions feeding on the salmon. We also hope to observe the congregation of humpback whales who spend their summer feeding in the rich upwelling which occurs here. This afternoon we anchor off the tiny hamlet of Elfin Cove, a remote village on Chichagof Island accessible only by boat or float plane. Upon our arrival, local resident Mary Jo Lordwild will join us onboard the ship for a presentation on Elfin Cove and life in a boardwalk community. After tendering ashore by Zodiac, you are free to explore this unique and seldom-visited fishing community by strolling along the elevated boardwalk that serves as the town’s sidewalk and main street. Elfin Cove has something for everyone: photography buffs can try to capture the picturesque setting and colourful fishing boats on film; wildlife enthusiasts may be rewarded by the sight of a sea otter, harbour seal or bald eagle.

Day 11 - Hubbard Glacier & Icy Bay.

Today cruise the St Elias Range, the tallest coastal mountain range in the world. Enter Yakutat Bay to view Hubbard Glacier, at over 75 miles long the longest tidewater glacier in North America, with a face six miles wide. This is one of the few advancing glaciers, and our small ship is able to manoeuvre a comfortable distance off the face of the glacier and watch for “glacier calving”. This evening if weather permits we will enter Icy Bay, with Mount St Elias framing an imposing 18,000 ft backdrop, we will see the mighty Malaspina and Guyot Glaciers. With glistening crevasses, serrated ridges and sparkling pinnacles, these glaciers have carved the land formations over the millennia.

Day 12 - Kayak Island.

This morning we arrive at Kayak Island where we will use our Zodiacs to land for a walk with our naturalists. Here, Captain Vitus Bering landed in 1741 after crossing the North Pacific from Russia and we will visit the cave and plaque that commemorate his visit. Enjoy an afternoon at sea as we cruise north keeping an eye out for wildlife.

Day 13 - Prince William Sound.

Waking up to a vision of massive glaciers and icebergs is a reminder of the advantages of small ship cruising. We will manoeuvre our way past the icebergs and coves of Prince William Sound and we hope to explore Barry Arm and College fjord. Opportunities for capturing incredible images with your camera and binoculars are endless as harbour seals and otters bob around in the water and Bald eagles fly overhead.

Day 14 - Seward to Anchorage.

After breakfast disembark in Seward and transfer to Anchorage. After a local lunch we will enjoy a tour of the city including the Anchorage museum which is devoted to displays of the history of the region from the native population to the Russian settlers alongside its collection of traditional art. This afternoon transfer to your hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.

Day 15 - Anchorage to London.

After breakfast in the hotel transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London via Seattle.

Day 16 - London Heathrow.

Morning arrival.

Dates and Prices

SPECIAL OFFER – SAVE £250 PER PERSON FOR LIMITED TIME ONLY
Prices per person based on double occupancy
24 July 2015 to 8 August 2015
Category Brochure Price Special Offer Price
Superior Stateroom Deck 3 £7695 £7445
Deluxe Stateroom Deck 3 £7995 £7745
Prestige Stateroom Deck 4 £8695 £8445
Prestige Stateroom Deck 5 £8695 £8445
Prestige Stateroom Deck 6 £8695 £8445
Deluxe Suite Deck 6 £9695 £9445
Prestige Suite Deck 5 £10295 £10045
Prestige Suite Deck 6 £10295 £10045
Owner’s Suite Deck 6 £11995 £11745
Deluxe Stateroom Deck 3 for sole use £11195 £10945
Prestige Stateroom Deck 4 for sole use £12195 £11945

Tour Reference Code: SCAU240715

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled flights, 12 nights aboard L’Austral on a full board basis including wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard, shore excursions, expedition team, transfers, port taxes, gratuities onboard and whilst on excursions, overnight accommodation in Vancouver and Anchorage on a bed and breakfast basis.

Not Included: Travel Insurance, visas.

NB: Flight schedules have not been released at the time of going to print and therefore the itinerary is subject to change on their release. All special offers are subject to availability.

  • Alaska Deck Plan

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Destinations

  • Alaska

    To see our current selection of tours in Alaska click here.

    “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.” The beloved patriotic song “America the Beautiful” hints at some of the country's diverse, majestic landscape, which is certainly one of many reasons to visit the US but there are so many others.

    From its vast plains, snow-covered mountains, deep forests and strange rock formations, to soaring skyscrapers and a thunderous cultural scene, the USA is a collage of extremes. Nothing can prepare you for your first glimpse of Manhattan's unforgettable skyline, your first ride in a yellow cab, the ubiquitous hamburger joints, yawning expanses of prairie, the sweet strains of New Orleans jazz, or the neon-lit excesses of Las Vegas.

    When it comes to the natural landscape, you’re hard pressed to find an area more diverse. Marvel at the thunderous spectacle of 12,000-year-old Niagara Falls in northern New York, or seek an antidote to urban chaos amidst the flat farmland of the Midwest. Then there are the black hills of South Dakota, the dramatic mountain and ocean landscape of California's Pacific Coast Highway and of course, there's the world-famous Grand Canyon, just one of the 397 parks in the National Parks systems.

    There's the manmade landscape, too, which is as impressive as the natural. Though New York City is the most densely populated with soaring skyscrapers, including the iconic Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, other cities have admirable architecture as well, including Chicago's Sears Tower, and of course, the White House in Washington DC.

    The current US government shutdown unfortunately means that some of the country's biggest attractions may be closed whilst the politics plays out. Some key sights and national parks will be closed to the public. Frustrating as the closures might be, a visit to the US is as much shaped by the people you'll encounter as by the attractions.

    And what about those people? The US has always been known as a pioneering country and it has long been a land of promise for people around the world eager to pursue “the American dream.” Generations of immigrants have made the culture of the country a unique mix of varied influences, and immigration continues to shape the national identity, from food and language to music and pastimes. In fact, the most diverse neighbourhood in the world is in New York City and almost 45% of the total population of the US is comprised of immigrants.

    The USA is a huge country to explore and there truly is something here for every traveller. For lovers of the outdoors, the great American West still retains much of the allure that it did for early pioneers pushing past the Mississippi. Awe-inspiring natural formations such as the geysers of Yellowstone and the seemingly endless “Big Sky Country” of Montana make one feel as if the US goes on forever.

    For those who love music, New Orleans is an obligatory visit, with its jazz, Cajun, and Zydeco tunes. The Crescent City is also known for its food, which is unique to the region-- po' boys, crawfish boils, gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, muffulettas, and beignets-- and, of course, its parties. Mardi Gras is a raucous, rocking good time.

    Although the history of the US is short compared to that of Europe, there are plenty of places where you can learn more about seminal moments in the country's development. Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. all have important historic sites that commemorate the young nation's history, and battlefields, statues, and structures around the country provide additional opportunities to learn about great moments in the American story.

    Though Americans may not enjoy the best reputation abroad, both cities and small towns alike are filled with friendly people who love to show off their home to visitors. Travellers to the US frequently remark on the warmth and hospitality of its people and more likely than not, you’ll return home with a better impression of Americans than before you left.

    • Key Facts

      Capital:

      Washington, DC.

      Geography:

      Covering a large part of the North American continent, the USA shares borders with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The country has coasts on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The State of Alaska, in the northwest corner of the US, is not part of the continental US; it is separated from the rest of the USA by Canada. Similarly, Hawaii is not part of the “lower 48” states; it lies in the central Pacific Ocean.

      The country's dependent territories are offshore and have distinct geographies of their own; the majority are islands. The third-largest country in the world (after the Russian Federation and Canada), the USA has an enormous diversity of geographical features, including mountains, plains, and coastal zones. Though there are many cities that are densely populated with more manmade features than natural ones, there are also vast rural areas that are far more sparsely populated. The climate ranges from subtropical to arctic, with a corresponding breadth of flora and fauna. For a more detailed description of each region's geographical characteristics, see the individual state sections.

      Government:

      Federal Republic since 1789. Gained independence from the UK in 1776. The USA has 50 States and the District of Columbia (as in 'Washington, DC'), which lies between Maryland and Virginia. It also holds a number of territories and commonwealths called 'dependent areas', among them American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

      Head Of State:

      President Barack Obama since 2009.

      Head Of Government:

      President Barack Obama since 2009.

      Electricity:

      120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs have two flat pins with or without a third round grounding pin.

      Timezone:
    • Money

      Currency Information:

      US Dollar (USD; symbol $) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of $100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1, though the $2 bill is rare and is not in high circulation. Coins are in denominations of $1, and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents.

      Credit Cards:

      Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the USA, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Visitors are advised to carry at least one major credit card, as it is common to request pre-payment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire, even when final payment is not by credit card. Be sure to check with your card issuer for current surcharge rates imposed for use of the card outside your home country. You should also inform your issuer that you are travelling for a specified period so your card is not flagged or temporarily suspended.

      Bank-issued debit cards are accepted at many businesses in the US; however, using them to pay for many travel-related expenses, such as car hire and hotel rooms, often incurs a surcharge, deposit, or a hold on your account.

      ATMs:

      ATMs are widely available across the country.

      Travellers Cheques:

      Widely accepted in US Dollar cheques; Pound Sterling traveller's cheques are rarely accepted and few banks will honour them. Change is issued in US Dollars. One or two items of identification (passport, credit card, driving licence) will be required.

      Banking Hours:

      Variable, but generally Mon-Fri 0830-1700. In major cities such as New York, newer banks are competing with one another and have extended hours, including weekend service.

      Currency Restrictions:

      There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts in excess of US$10,000 or equivalent should be declared at customs.

      Currency Exchange:

      Hotels do not, as a rule, exchange currency and only a few major banks will exchange foreign currency, so it is advisable to arrive with US Dollars, or exchange foreign currency at the airport upon arrival.

      Currencies: Exchange Rates:

      • 1 AUD = 0.89 USD
      • 1 EUR = 1.26 USD
      • 1 GBP = 1.62 USD
      • 1 USD = 1.00 USD

    • Climate

      Best Time To Visit:

      The United States has varied weather conditions, and the best time to visit depends both upon the location and the season. Spring (March, April, May) and autumn (September and October) are generally cooler, more comfortable times to visit. Summer months - June, July, and August - are generally hot regardless of the region, but winter temperatures (November-February) can vary substantially depending upon the part of the US you are visiting. The southern part of the country tends to be warmer in the winter than the north. The general climate of the continental US is temperate, but keep in mind that Hawaii is tropical and Alaska is arctic. Many of the country's dependent territories, such as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, are also tropical.

      Summer is considered the peak tourist season throughout the country; other popular travel times are major American holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as Easter Week and the school holiday known as Spring Break. Certain destinations, such as New York, are perennial favourites and are busy year-round; even when the weather may not be pleasant, these destinations have particular attractions or experiences that always draw travellers. In some parts of the country, travel services may be limited during the low or off-season, largely due to weather conditions.

      Required Clothing:

      As the US is a vast country with varying climates and four distinct seasons, packing clothing that allows you to layer for warmer and cooler conditions is recommended, especially if you plan to travel to different regions of the country. What you pack will largely depend upon the kinds of activities you plan to enjoy. Outdoor-lovers will need clothing and shoes that are appropriate for the terrain and the activities they have planned; visitors to cities will need a range of casual outfits and perhaps one smarter outfit for a fine dining or theatre outing.

  • Canada

    To see our current selection of tours in Canada click here.

    From Banff to Baffin Island, from Tofino to Toronto, Canada is a remarkable country. Whether you’re a hard-core adrenaline junkie looking for a backcountry adventure, an explorer heading out on a big road trip, a city-lover hunting for cutting-edge culture and fine cuisine or a combination of all the above, Canada ticks all the boxes.

    Stretching 5,500km (3,400 miles) from the Atlantic to the Yukon-Alaska border, the world’s second largest country boasts an astonishing diversity of landscapes: rugged, unspoilt coastline abuts immense forests and emerald lakes containing a startling array of wildlife; vast, seemingly endless prairies become jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain ranges; laid-back, cosmopolitan cities are complemented by remote, quirky outposts.

    Canada’s people too are enormously varied, from the indigenous Inuit in the Arctic to First Nations communities, 1960s and 70s British expats, fiercely proud Francophone peoples and a burgeoning Asian population. Their genuine friendliness and warmth is immediately apparent to visitors.

    Canadian cities are progressive, vibrant and regularly feature on ‘best places to live’ lists - Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal have all at some point featured on Mercer’s Quality of Life Survey, usually scoring in the top 30. Toronto, a veritable patchwork of diverse neighbourhoods, sits in an enviable location on the shore of Lake Ontario whilst Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, contains a clutch of great museums and the pretty Rideau Canal for ice skating in winter. Montreal’s skyscrapers belie its French heritage, but look closer and you’ll stumble upon historic, cobbled streets and centuries-old customs. A stone’s throw from the Canadian Rockies, booming Calgary oozes oil wealth and flaunts its cowboy traditions; chilled-out Vancouver, meanwhile, seems to have it all: mountains, beaches, an incredible downtown park and terrific food.

    Whilst you’re out and about enjoying the cities, don’t forget about the experiences Canada delivers. You can ski steep chutes in British Columbia, kayak secluded bays in Nova Scotia or learn to lasso at an Albertan ranch. You can capture grizzlies on camera in the Yukon, watch open-mouthed as mammoth icebergs drift past the Newfoundland coast or listen in awe to the deafening roar of Niagara Falls. You can tour vineyards, dig for clams or slice through a succulent steak.

    Canada is a nation of immigrants and thus truly cosmopolitan – around 20% of the population are foreign-born (rising to 45% in Toronto). While other countries have eschewed immigration, Canada has recognised its importance to economic and social development, and continues to welcome vast numbers of young, skilled and highly educated workers from overseas each year. Indeed, in 2010, over 280,000 new permanent residents came to Canada, the largest number in more than 50 years. And contrary to the waves of migration from Europe in the first half of the 20th century, the majority of recent immigrants come from Asia. Thanks to its cautious fiscal policies, Canada’s economy has remained reasonably buoyant during the global financial crisis, and it remains one of the world’s wealthiest nations and a highly desirable place to work and do business.

    With its staggeringly beautiful scenery, multitude of outdoor activities, forward-looking cities and huge swathes of uninhabited wilderness, Canada offers countless opportunities to travellers.

    • Key Facts

      Capital:

      Ottawa.

      Geography:

      Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia, covering an area of 9,984,670 sq km (3,855,103 sq miles). It is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the northeast by Greenland (across the Nares Strait), and to the south by the 'Lower 48' states of the USA. The polar ice cap lies to the north.

      Canada stretches 4,634km (2,879 miles) from its northernmost point on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut to its southernmost point on Middle Island, Lake Erie, Ontario. The longest distance east to west is 5,514km (3,426 miles) from Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon-Alaska border. Canada also has the world’s longest coastline at 202,080km (125,566 miles). The country’s highest mountain with a peak at 5,959m (19,550ft) is Mt Logan in the Yukon Territory.

      The landscape is diverse, ranging from the Arctic tundra of the north to the great prairies of the central area. Westward are the Rocky Mountains, and in the southeast are the Great Lakes, the St Lawrence River and Niagara Falls. The country is divided into 10 provinces and three territories.

      Government:

      Constitutional monarchy.

      Head Of State:

      HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General David Johnston since 2010.

      Head Of Government:

      Prime Minister Stephen Harper since 2006.

      Electricity:

      110-120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin and three-pin (grounded) plugs are standard.

      Timezone:
    • Money

      Currency Information:

      Canadian Dollar (CAD; symbol C$) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of C$100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of C$2 and 1, and 25, 10, 5 cents. Although the 1c coin (or penny) remains legal tender, as of 2013 it is being phased out of circulation.

      Credit Cards:

      Major credit cards are widely accepted. Use of debit cards is widespread, although many stores impose a C$5 to C$20 minimum per debit card purchase, and service charges may apply.

      ATMs:

      ATMs are easy to find in populated areas but are less common in remote regions such as rural parts of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador. Use a machine affiliated with a major bank to reduce service charges; independent machines in locations such as casinos and convenience stores may carry high charges and do not always accept international cards.

      Travellers Cheques:

      To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Canadian Dollars; these are negotiable primarily in banks, hotels and tourist facilities. Their use has declined somewhat in recent years as more visitors rely on ATM cards, but travellers should bring at least some emergency currency in traveller's cheques in case their ATM cards do not work.

      Banking Hours:

      Generally, Mon-Fri 0930-1700 with extended hours in some locations, particularly on Thursday and Friday evenings. Some branches open as early as 0800 and many now open on Saturdays and Sundays too, usually until 1600.

      Currency Restrictions:

      There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency, but amounts equal or greater than C$10,000 should be declared.

      Currency Exchange:

      You can easily exchange currency at any bank or bureau de change. Hotels sometimes change money too, but their exchange rate is likely to be less favourable. If you're travelling to smaller communities, ensure you have a good supply of Canadian Dollars in cash, as you may not be able to change foreign currency at all and might not have access to an ATM.

      Currencies: Exchange Rates:

      • 1 AUD = 0.94 CAD
      • 1 EUR = 1.41 CAD
      • 1 GBP = 1.82 CAD
      • 1 USD = 1.12 CAD

    • Climate

      Best Time To Visit:

      If you’re planning on skiing or enjoying winter sports, the best time to visit Canada is between December and April, though some resorts open as early as November and extend their seasons as late as June (or even July on Whistler’s glacier). If you want to enjoy the great outdoors without the snow, travel between May and September. Be aware however, that if there’s been heavy snowfall during the winter, some high-altitude hiking trails may be closed well into July. May, June and September are typically cheaper than July and August, but you’ll get the best of the weather in the latter two months.

      Summer thunderstorms are common throughout Canada. Occasionally, these may become severe. Tornados also occur throughout Canada, with May to September being prime months. The peak season is June and early July in southern Ontario, Alberta, southeastern Quebec, and a band stretching from southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, through to Thunder Bay. The interior of British Columbia and western New Brunswick are also tornado zones. Earth tremors occur in the western mountains. Forest fires can occur at any time, regardless of the season, particularly in the grasslands and forests of western Canada.

      Required Clothing:

      Note: These general guidelines apply mainly to the settled areas of southern Canada. Travellers heading to northern areas, such as the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador, should bring warm clothing for all but the summer months (and even in summer, at least a lightweight jacket is advisable). See the individual provinces and territories sections for more details.

      December/January/February: Winter temperatures. Winter clothing is necessary (eg overcoat, hat, boots and gloves). Heavy snowfall in most provinces, with Vancouver being the main exception in that it usually rains instead.
      March: Moderate temperatures. Winter clothing with some mediumweight clothing.
      April: Milder days but the evenings are cool. Mediumweight clothing including a topcoat and umbrella is recommended.
      May: Warm days but cool at night. Mediumweight and summer clothing recommended.
      June: Warm. Summer clothing with some mediumweight clothing for cool evenings. The weather in June is ideal for travel and all outdoor activities.
      July/August: These are the warmest months of the year. Lightweight summer clothing is recommended.
      September: Warm days and cool evenings. Light- to mediumweight clothing recommended.
      October: Cool, with the first frost in the air.
      November: Cool to frosty. Medium- to heavyweight clothing is recommended. First signs of snow.

  • United States of America

    To see our current selection of tours in United States of America click here.

L’Austral

We are delighted to be working with our associates La Compagnie du Ponant and the luxurious L’Austral. This superb mega-yacht with 132 cabins is the result of the expertise of the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and French sophistication, as interpreted by designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. The vessel offers a subtle blend of sophistication combined with casual comfort creating the feeling of being on a private yacht, and allows us to explore with ease with plentiful visits ashore. After a day of exploration, you can return to personalised comfort and luxurious surroundings as well as high quality cuisine.

 
  • L'Austral
  • Pool & Dining on deck
  • Pool
  • Bar
  • Restaurant
  • Fitness Centre
  • Suite
  • Double Cabin
  • Your Cabin/Suite

    Staterooms and suites are spread over four decks and include superior staterooms measuring 226 square feet, deluxe and prestige staterooms which measure 200 square feet, deluxe suites which measure 290 square feet, prestige suites which measure 398 square feet and the owner’s suite which measures 484 square feet (the prestige suites are two prestige staterooms combined). With the exception of the superior staterooms
    (which feature a picture window), all staterooms and suites feature a private balcony which range in size from 43 square feet to 97 square feet dependent on cabin category. Cabins feature en-suite facilities including a shower (the owner’s suite has a bathtub), individually controlled air-conditioning, desk with stationery minibar, flat screen satellite television, video on demand, DVD player, CD and Ipod players, security safe, hairdryer, direct dial telephone, internet access with wifi, bathrobes and bath products. In addition
    the larger suites have a sitting area.

  • Your Space

    Whether you want to join other guests in the theatre or games area or relax on your own in a quiet corner of the library, L’Austral has been designed to meet the needs of every guest. There is a large lounge, lecture theatre, a Panoramic Lounge which leads out onto a terrace, library and internet corner. Outside deck areas are spacious and feature comfortable deck furniture as well as a heated pool and on the top deck you will find the open-air bar. A lift serves all decks. Fitted with the latest equipment, such as a Kinesis Wall, running machines, the Fitness and Beauty Centre on L’Austral welcomes you for some unforgettable moments of energising, relaxation and pampering including beauty treatments, hairdressing, massage, a hammam and balneo therapy.

  • Your Dining

    Loyal to the great French tradition, cuisine on board is worthy of the finest restaurants, where discreet, attentive service is standard. The two single-sitting restaurants welcome you for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Gastronomic Restaurant, is situated on Le Liberté Deck and serves French and international cuisine accompanied by fine wine. At the Grill Restaurant, you will have the opportunity to eat outside and enjoy buffet lunch and themed dinners. There is also 24-hour room service available. Dress code is casual in the daytime and slightly smarter in the evening, although black tie is never required.

  • Life Onboard

    Aboard L’Austral, the atmosphere is akin to being on your own private yacht. The independence and space of each guest has been considered in the design of the vessel and therefore you will find plenty of places to sit and relax in solitude, as well as areas for social gatherings and to meet fellow guests. The Captain, his officers and the hotel management are European and all crew members are fully bilingual. Ponant Cruises are marketed internationally and the majority of passengers onboard this voyage will be French speaking. The ambience onboard L’Austral will appeal to those who enjoy a relaxed and sociable style of cruising.

    You will be joined by a qualified expedition team of naturalists who will accompany you ashore and provide informative talks throughout the cruise. Zodiac landing craft enables us to reach every spectacular sight, no matter how remote. Due to their manoeuvrability, these inflatable craft allow us to truly immerse ourselves in nature. We will be feet away from glaciers, walrus, bears, spectacular birdlife and explore otherwise inaccessible fjords
    and waterways. On some days Zodiacs will be used to go ashore and land on a remote beach whilst on other occasions we will cruise a coastline searching for wildlife.

  • For your comfort

    With a 1C ice class and stabilisers, L’Austral meets the highest safety specifications. The
    ship is equipped with a GMDSS emergency communication system and a satellite weather
    system, receiving real-time satellite images of weather and ice conditions in the area. A crew of 140 will ensure the best possible service. There is also a doctor onboard.

  • Deck plans
    • Alaska Deck Plan

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Travel Blog

Alaska is big country! The scenery is majestic. Towering, forest clad mountains rear up on either side of the Caledonian Sky as she navigates the narrow passages leading ever northwards into the Alaskan wilderness.

Canada is behind us. The Canadian pilots have left, and the Alaskan pilots are aboard. Now all we are waiting for are the immigration officials who have to clear us into the United States. As we sail slowly across mirror calm seas, we hear the constant drone of aircraft engines. Not the high whine of turbines, as most of us are used to, but the throaty growl of radial engines. This is seaplane country, and the seaplane of choice is the trusty De Havilland Beaver!

As we enter the sheltered fiord that will be our private airport, we are rewarded with another Alaskan icon. Feeding quietly on the shore is a brown bear. It seems somehow incongruous that this magnificent animal, one with such a fearsome reputation, should be quietly eating grass, but there it is, in clear view of all.

Not even the noise of the aircraft carrying the officials, inevitably a Beaver, disturbs the bear as it munches away. We are all enthralled at the sight of the animal, so unconcerned by our ship and the aircraft, in an environment that seems not to have changed for thousands of years.

And then there was Petersburg. What could be better than a small town on the 4th of July?

We Zodiaced into the small harbour, lined with fishing boats. The town was decorated with flags and bunting, and everybody seemed to be involved in the big parade. There were goodies on sale on the pavements, dogs in costume, the local hockey team on a float, girls on roller skates and Chris in a kilt. We watched local activities, rubber duck races, with the water provided by the fire department, and best of all, the egg throwing contest! There was a danger of being caught by the overthrows, but is was great fun, and the winners somehow managed to throw an egg, and catch it without breaking, at a distance of close to forty yards!

As we left in the afternoon, the local wildlife put on its own show for us. A massive Stellar’s Sealion roamed the harbour, finding scraps of fish and feeding messily on them. The Bald Eagles soared above us, sometimes three or four at a time, looking for food. Cameras clicked as they swooped, spectacularly but unsuccessfully on unsuspecting fish as the last Zodiac glided quietly back to the ship.

Zodiac cruises enable us to really get into this wilderness, without disturbing it. We see magnificent waterfalls tumbling hundreds of feet into the sea, the rock polished like semi-precious stone, revealing the patterns within. The Zodiacs take us into the ice, nimbly dodging large chunks of ice as we make our way to the Sawyer glacier. The colour of the ice is fascinating. Some pieces are glass-clear, others show an infinite variety of shades of blue!

Tour Extensions

    • After cruising the Alaskan coastline take a journey into the interior and the Denali National Park. The park is over six million acres in size and is home to Mount Mckinley, the highest mountain in North America. We will spend two nights in the heart of the park staying at the Denali Backcountry Lodge situated at the end of the 92 mile road that enters the park. Wildlife abounds at the park including grizzly bears, caribou and moose. A range of experiences from guided hikes, natural history and gold panning will be offered or alternatively just relax at the lodge and enjoy the wilderness. Our extension also includes time to visit the Iditarod Headquarters, home to the famous dog sled race, and the towns of Anchorage and Fairbanks where we will learn more about local customs and history.

      Moose, Denali National Park, Alaska Moose, Denali National Park, Alaska

      Day 1 Seward to Anchorage. 
      Disembark L’Austral after breakfast and transfer to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. Along the way we will stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre to see Alaska’s wildlife close up. Afterwards we continue to Anchorage and enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. This afternoon enjoy a brief city tour of Anchorage which includes a visit to Lake Hood to watch the float planes take off over the water and the historic downtown district. Later enjoy a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Centre to be introduced to Native traditions and customs from both the past and present. In the afternoon we transfer to the Captain Cook Hotel (or similar) and a free evening. 

      Day 2 Anchorage to Denali Park Entrance. Enjoy breakfast this morning at the hotel before we take a scenic transfer north to Wasilla. Here you will enjoy a visit to the Iditarod Headquarters and an opportunity to learn the mushing way of life as well as to see memorabilia from Alaska’s Last Great Race. After lunch we continue north to Denali National Park Entrance and check into our hotel. Here you can choose from optional tours such as white water rafting, guided hikes or flightseeing. The evening is at your leisure.

      Day 3 Denali National Park. Enjoy breakfast this morning at the hotel. There will be time this morning for optional tours or free time before we transfer to the Denali Depot and board the Denali park shuttle bus for a scenic ride into Denali National Park. Your driver-guide will provide narration giving you key information about the history and development of Denali National Park. As you make your way further and further into the park you will get a chance to see the Denali “Big 5” consisting of bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and wolves. This evening you will arrive at the all-inclusive Denali Backcountry Lodge located in the heart of Denali National Park. Dinner is served family style in the main lodge upon arrival. During dinner one of the many Naturalist Guides will advise you about some of the many included tours that you may partake in the following day such as guided hikes, biking, or, for an additional charge, flightseeing. 

      Day 4 Denali National Park. Enjoy breakfast served family style in the main lodge. Today you will depart on your scheduled tour that you had arranged the night before with one of the Naturalist Guides, or if you decided to rest and relax at the lodge you can visit the exclusive spa, The Nest. Lunch is served family style in the main lodge, and if you chose one of the full day tours a lunch will be provided for you. Hors d’oeuvres are served in the early evening in the main lodge, followed by dinner.

      Day 5 Denali National Park to Fairbanks. Enjoy breakfast served family style in the main lodge. Shortly after breakfast you will board the bus for a scenic transfer to the Denali Park Entrance. Although it is the same road you travelled on your way to the lodge the experience will be a chance to see the breath taking landscape as the sun rises as well as another opportunity to spot the Denali “Big 5”. Upon arrival at the Denali Park Entrance there will be time for an independent lunch before we continue our scenic tour north to Fairbanks, the Golden Heart City. Upon arrival into Fairbanks there will be an orientation of the city before you are taken to the hotel. The rest of the evening will be at your leisure.

      Day 6 Fairbanks to London. After breakfast in the hotel we will transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London via Seattle.

      Day 7 London. Arrive this morning.

    • Prices per person based on double occupancy
      CategoryPrice
      Twin £1545
      Single £1945

      Price Includes: Overnight hotel accommodation in Anchorage and at Denali Park Entrance on breakfast only basis, two nights accommodation at the Denali Backcountry Lodge on a full board basis, overnight hotel accommodation in Fairbanks on breakfast only basis, transfers, lunches on days 1 and 2, excursions as listed in the itinerary, tour escort, luggage handling.

      Not Included: Travel insurance, visas, optional excursions, meals except those mentioned in itinerary, gratuities.

    • For those wishing to extend their time in Canada and Alaska, we are offering two optional extensions in conjunction with our cruise. Before embarking L’Austral you can join our tour aboard the Rocky Mountaineer and travel from Banff to Vancouver witnessing some incredible scenery on the way. There is also the option upon disembarking to explore Denali National Park which covers six million acres and is extraordinarily beautiful.

      Travel from Banff to Vancouver and pass through pristine Canadian wilderness that is inaccessible by any other means. Our route passes pivotal spots in Canadian history including the Spiral Tunnels and the celebrated last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Rugged mountains and raging rivers showcase the grand and often terrifying power of nature and stand testimony to the marvels of engineering and the indomitable human will.

       

      The Rocky Mountaineer

      All train travel is during daylight hours so you won’t miss a moment of the extraordinary scenery whether it’s winding along sinuous canyons or climbing pine-covered slopes. Whilst on the train, you will be served cuisine which is regionally inspired such as wild BC sockeye salmon or Alberta beef ribs which is created by award winning chefs. The onboard hosts offer impeccable service along with extensive knowledge of the area through which we are travelling. There are three grades of onboard carriages to choose from:

      RedLeaf Service: Settle back in your roomy, reclining seat and enjoy the commentary and service provided by your Rocky Mountaineer Host. Delicious chilled breakfasts and luncheon selections are served at your seat, so you will not miss a moment of the spectacular scenery through the large picture windows. Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are also available during your time on the train.

      SilverLeaf Service: The custom-designed, single-level, glass-domed SilverLeaf coach puts you right in the middle of the awe-inspiring scenery of the Canadian Rockies. The oversized windows offer a larger viewing area and the chance to take in the dazzling vistas. Enjoy hot breakfasts and lunches served to your seat and access to complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and snacks on the train.

      GoldLeaf Service: GoldLeaf offers even the most discerning traveller an incomparable list of services and benefits. The fully domed windows give unparalleled views from your seat, whilst you can enjoy delicious meals downstairs in the restaurant with hot breakfasts and a la carte lunches. Complimentary snacks and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are available on the train. From the attentive service provided by your Rocky Mountaineer Hosts, to the gourmet meals prepared from regional cuisine by our award-winning chefs. GoldLeaf Service is quite simply, as good as it gets.

       

      Rocky Mountaineer, Banff National Park Rocky Mountaineer, Banff National Park

      Day 1 London to Banff. Fly by scheduled flight to Calgary. On arrival transfer to Banff and checkin at the Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

      Day 2 Banff to Kamloops. This morning transfer to the railway station to embark the Rocky Mountaineer. Today we travel from the mountain town of Banff to Kamloops, in the heart of British Columbia’s interior. Your journey takes you through a spectacular array of scenery as you travel between the glacier and snowcapped peaks of the Canadian Rockies, over mountain passes and through remarkable tunnels, along rocky lakeshores and across the ranch lands of the interior. Today’s highlights include the Continental Divide, the Spiral Tunnels, the Kicking Horse Canyon, Rogers Pass and Craigellachie – where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven. Arrive in Kamloops this evening and transfer to your hotel for an overnight stay.

      Day 3 Kamloops to Vancouver. We reboard the train this morning as our journey continues west towards the Pacific Ocean and the coastal city of Vancouver. On today’s journey you will again see dramatic changes in scenery, from the desert-like environment of the interior, through winding river canyons and pristine forests, to the coast and Cascade mountains and the lush green fields of the Fraser River Valley. Highlights include the steep slopes and rock sheds along the Thompson River and the rushing waters of Hell’s Gate in the Fraser Canyon. Upon arrival in Vancouver we transfer to the Georgian Court Hotel for a two night stay.

      Day 4 Vancouver. Enjoy the day at leisure exploring the magnificent city of Vancouver. Choose to spend the day strolling through the boutiques on Robson Street, visiting the Vancouver Aquarium or Art Gallery, exploring Granville Island and the Public Market or perhaps just taking a relaxing walk along the English Bay seawall.

      Day 5 Vancouver. This morning is at leisure to explore independently maybe visit Chinatown, Gastown and Stanley Park. This afternoon meet at the hotel for a transfer to L’Austral moored in the city.

    • Prices per person based on double occupancy
      CategoryPrice
      RedLeaf Twin £895
      SilverLeaf Twin £1195
      GoldLeaf Twin £1495
      RedLeaf Single £995

      Price Includes: Overnight hotel accommodation in Banff and Kamloops on a room only basis, two nights hotel accommodation in Vancouver on a bed and breakfast basis, two days travel aboard theRocky Mountaineer in chosen service level, meals on the train as described.

      Not Included: Travel Insurance, visas, dinners, gratuities on the train and hotels.

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