The day began with excitement on the bow of the ship as Dall’s porpoises raced to catch a free ride. The ship creates a pressure wave that seems almost irresistible to the small but solid porpoises. Dall’s porpoises are one of the fastest marine mammals and can reach speeds up to 35 mph. These little torpedoes exerted almost no energy as they let the ship’s bulbous bow massage them in a playful morning surfing session. Not a bad way to start our week on National Geographic Quest.

There is no typical day in Alaska; the wildlife and scenery are constantly changing. That is what has brought me back each summer for the last 25 years. The unexpected anticipation of what will reveal itself next. The expedition staff is just a bunch of kids in adult bodies hoping to share the enthusiasm with every guest. It isn’t a tough sell.

Tracy Arm is the first stop on this itinerary, and it couldn’t be a better place to start the trip. Massive granite walls on either side of the 30-mile-long fjord create the perfect entrance into the strange and beautiful world of glaciers. Gasps of awe and wonder are audible as we load everyone into the waiting Zodiacs on the fantail and while we explore the waterfalls, icebergs, and wildlife.

Harbor seals lounge on the ice tending to their newborn pups as arctic terns fly overhead. So many animals rely on the bounty of this special place to feed their young in hopes that they will survive the harsh conditions that will be their future in Alaska. We shared information and stories about this place that carved out the mountains and created the waterways we will be navigating for the entire journey this week.