Chris fagan made his first trip to Alaska aboard the 130-foot Westport Serengeti in 2014. Back then, he was the mate; this summer, he’s doing his fourth season on the yacht as captain.
The place never gets old.
“It’s the best nature and wildlife cruising ground that there is,” he says. “Just given the vastness of the wilderness and the abundance of gigantic wildlife, it’s a reminder of what the world is capable of. It doesn’t matter who goes with us, whether they’ve chartered all over the world or it’s their first time: Everyone leaves with their minds blown.”
The good news for charter clients, he says, is that even despite the grandeur to be explored, precious few yachts with professional crew make the run to Alaska each summer. A lot of times, Serengeti has had an anchorage all to herself.
The bad news for charter clients, Fagan says, is that given the small number of available yachts and the short season, primarily from June through August, the best boats tend to book up fast. As of early May, Serengeti already had nine charters scheduled for this summer.
“I would say a year out is when you start getting the first bookings, and it’s wise to book six months in advance,” he says, “especially if you want a prime date.”
Clients wanting to book any boat in Alaska, he says, should look not only for an experienced crew, but also for a boat that’s outfitted for the area. Serengeti, for instance, has Isinglass on the main and top decks, allowing wide views without cold winds.
And it’s the views that count—especially given the realities of climate change.
“Of course, the glaciers are slowly receding, but they’re still there,” he says. “Who knows? A hundred years from now, some of them may be backed up farther than we can get to in a boat, but anybody who goes up now can experience that beauty.”
What to expect in Alaska
- Charter Itineraries typically take place between Juneau, Alaska’s capital, and Sitka, in the southeast part of the state that borders Canada.
- The sounds of the glaciers as they calve, cracking off chunks and dropping them into the sea, is as loud as the roar of lions or a low-flying plane.
- Whales, bears, bald eagles and other wildlife are all around, so have a camera ready, ideally with a long lens.
- Try the candied salmon, which is eaten as a stick, kind of like beef jerky.