/ Alumni and Family Engagement

Alaska: Glacier Bay & Inside Passage

Join us from August 28–September 8, 2021, on an Alaskan adventure that promises to be a life-enhancing experience, jointly sponsored by Hope College’s Global Travel Program and the Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC).

Program Highlights

We will travel via a small cruising ship, immersing ourselves in the pristine wilderness of Glacier Bay and the inside passage of Alaska. We will see barren mountain faces, glaciers and fjords of Glacier Bay and then venture into the moss-laden and rainforest-cloaked shores of the Icy Strait. Hundreds of miles of glacial fjords are there, waiting to be explored. On our exploration you may see Sitka deer or brown, black or glacier bears and we will keep our eyes peeled for wolves, moose, humpback whales, porpoises, sea otters and countless other land and marine mammals. We will learn about botany, geology, marine and terrestrial wildlife and also better understand the past and current climate science regarding the wilderness, its known effects and possible outcomes.

Each day you will kayak and hike in Glacier Bay National Park or the Tongass National Forest, two of Alaska’s wilderness gems. Not an experienced kayaker or hiker? Don’t worry! The crew and your guides are experienced at offering this trip to people of all abilities. Expect to hike in a temperate rainforest, explore beaches, kayak in coastal waters and experience native and local culture.

What to Expect

Typically we cruise three to four hours aboard the Sea Wolf and spend the rest of the time exploring the glacial fjords and bays by kayak or hiking onshore. Routes and anchorages are chosen to give the most enjoyable opportunities to experience Alaska; itineraries are subject to changes based on park area closures, permits, travel conditions, wildlife movements, weather and our collective whim!

The Sea Wolf, a 97-foot restored wooden boat that once served as a Navy minesweeper.

Most of this program is based aboard the Sea Wolf, a 97-foot restored wooden boat that once served as a Navy minesweeper. Remodeled, it now serves as a small private cruise ship complete with six double-occupancy state rooms with private baths, living and dining areas, observation decks, tender boat, kayaks and a host of educational resources.

Stateroom aboard the Sea Wolf

We have our own private chef making all our meals and an experienced crew, including two naturalists, guiding our adventures. This unique, custom Alaska wilderness experience will be like no other.

Dining aboard the Sea Wolf

This program is designed for somewhat active adults. There will be times of walking/hiking, being on your feet and kayaking, which is balanced by down times. To fully partake in this program, you should be capable of kayaking for one to two hours per day, walking a minimum of one mile at a time over uneven terrain and occasionally up to two miles, climbing stairs that may not have handrails, elevation changes, keeping pace with an active group of travelers, and dealing with the emotional highs and lows that can occur when experiencing new situations and traveling with a group for several hours each day. The Sea Wolf staff is accommodating for individuals with a variety of needs, and you always have the option of staying back on the Sea Wolf if you are not up to doing an activity. When possible, multiple options for various fitness abilities are planned.


We will be traveling aboard a boat throughout Alaska’s northern inside passage. The boat will attempt to avoid rough water conditions if at all possible. However, there is the chance for traveling through some water that will cause the boat to move a bit. This will generally be an infrequent occurrence. There will be no major open water crossings and you will be in sight of land throughout the trip.

Temperatures will vary along our travels. Listed below are the temperature averages during previously experienced from the two cities we will travel through:

  • Gustavus: high of 63°F, low of 48° F (August)
  • Juneau: high of 57° F, low of 45 °F (September)

Keep in mind that these are averages. You should plan on potentially 5–10 degrees warmer or cooler. We recommend bringing layers that can be added or removed as needed. Rainfall is a possibility throughout the program, of course, and so a rain jacket is a good idea.

Map of Juneau Alaska

Program Leaders

Travis WilliamsTravis Williams has worked in the field of environmental education and resource management since 1997, when he graduated from Hope College with degrees in biology and environmental science. As his career developed, he pursued multiple advanced degrees, including an MBA in strategic management. He has worked for the ODC Network since its founding in 2000, where he has been intimately involved with developing the nonprofit education and conservation organization and currently serves as ODC’s chief executive officer.

From a young age Travis developed his interest in wildlife, conservation and the outdoors. This will be the sixth guided nature tour Travis has led to Alaska, and he’s excited to share his knowledge base. Travis is an avid wildlife photographer, fisherman and global traveler who has led eco-tours for nearly two decades.

Dave Van WylenDave Van Wylen is Hope College’s dean for natural and applied sciences and currently serves on the ODC Network Board. Dave received his undergraduate degree, with a biology major, from St. Olaf College and received his doctorate in physiology from the University of Michigan (Go Blue). The bulk of his career was at the State University of New York at Buffalo and St. Olaf College before coming to Hope College in 2015. Beyond his administrative duties, Dave maintains current interests in water- and sustainability-related issues, teaching a class on water and advocating for sustainability initiatives on campus and in the community. Dave is a seasoned traveler and has led adult and student programs on seven of the eight (including Zealandia) continents.

Program Fee

Program fee, based on double occupancy, is $8,765. We will travel with a delightful size of 11 participants. Currently there is room for a single male who will share a twin bed room with a group leader.

Program fee includes all lodging, discussions led by Travis Williams and Dave Van Wylen, professional naturalist guides, professional photo collection documenting trip experiences and sights, all meals while on the ship and others as listed in the itinerary, complimentary beer and wine during dinner and evenings while on the ship, entry fees to parks and museums, admissions for group activities, ground transportation during the program, taxes, and gratuities to group guides, boat crew, and meal servers.

Airfare is not included in the program fee, allowing participants the flexibility to choose airlines, use frequent flyer miles, and pick travel times and connections that best meet their individual travel needs. We suggest that you or your travel agent contact us to coordinate your flight with the start and end times of the programs since there will be limited times flight choices into Alaska. Alternatively, travel agent support and flight suggestions will be offered by us.

Participants are solely responsible for all expenses not specifically included in the program fee. Examples of excluded expenses are: airfare and airport transfers, excess baggage charges, trip cancellation, trip interruption or lost baggage insurance, laundry, dry cleaning, phone charges, room service or other items of a personal nature including but not limited to alcohol, beverages, and food outside that listed as covered in the itinerary and expenses incurred during free time or non-group activities.

Payment Schedule 


Travel Insurance

Hope College provides limited travel insurance for emergency medical situations, emergency medical evacuation and security evacuation. Review a travel insurance description.

Travel insurance, including trip cancellation, trip interruption, theft or loss of property, and emergency medical and dental coverage is the responsibility of the participant. We strongly suggest you purchase travel insurance to protect your travel investment. We recommend that you see what is covered by your personal credit card's travel benefits and consider purchasing travel insurance from your insurance agent or by contacting Ally Flinski at Buiten & Associates at 616.284.3039 or ally.flinski@buiteninsurance.com.

Program Documents