Alaska FAQs

Cities (Information regarding airports, airlines, hotels, things to do.)

Do I need a Visa to enter / exit the U.S.A. whilst on board the Nautilus?

Guests who are resident of any country other than Canada, United states or a country signatory to the Visa Waiver Program. Please contact us if you have any questions as the American immigration authorities may detain guests who do not have the correct paperwork. Please note: as of January 2009, the US Government has implemented an Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Please visit www.cbp.gov/esta if you wish further information.

What is included with my trip?

  • Diving.
  • Shore expeditions.
  • Watching calving glaciers, climbing onto icebergs.
  • Hiking up salmon streams.
  • Bear and whale watching.
  • Soaking in natural hotsprings.
  • Meals with a mix of western and mexican menu items, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages including sodas.
  • Daily room makeup and evening turndown.
  • Linen, towels and bathrobes.
  • Use of dedicated PC with smart card reader and DVD burner.
  • Onboard kayaks..

What is not included?

  • Alcoholic beverages (we stock over 30 micro brews and a great selection of wines and single malt scotches).
  • Nitrox, argon, gas mixes.
  • Rebreather support including zorb, steel and specialized tank rentals.
  • Drysuit.
  • Gift shop purchases.
  • Crew gratuities.

What should I bring?

A sense of humour, dive gear, a camera as well casual clothing for both life onboard and shore expeditions. We hate to say it, but rain gear is a good idea as well as a sweater and windbreaker. We strive to create a very relaxing atmosphere onboard, free of the irritants of every day life. You are welcome to bring your favorite CDs (for quiet enjoyment during meals, evening & sunny afternoons). However, please leave your videos and boom boxes at home. Evening entertainment may include slide shows, beach bonfires & limited video showings. Relax. Have a great time. We hope that you will forget all about "real life".

Can I bring my own alcohol?

Please don't. Guests are kindly requested not to bring alcohol on board. We have a comprehensive selection of beer, wine and hard liquor at reasonable prices.

Taxes & Port Fees:

Prices include all taxes except for a USD65 per person port fee, payable in cash at the end of your trip.

Transfers:

As all of our ports are close to local airports, we have found the best, most 'cost effective' method of getting from the airport to the Nautilus is by using local taxis.

What is the weather like in Alaska?

Alaska weather is highly variable. It can be 80 degrees and sunny, then an hour later 50 degrees and rainy. Guests are advised to bring sweaters, and rain gear, as well as clothing for nice warm days.

What kind of water temp and surface weather can I expect?

Water temperatures will likely range from 47 to 50 degrees. Surface conditions are usually calm during the summer and air temperatures range from 18 to 25 degrees celsius. Be warned that it can rain anytime on the coast.

What kind of visibility can I expect?

40' - 100' except during the odd plankton blooms. The beauty of a liveaboard is that we will move around to stay in "pockets" of good vis. Some of our dive sites are known to have excellent vis year round. Visibility from the surface to 60 fsw may be murky during plankton blooms with 10' of vis but virtually unlimited below the bloom. The invertebrate life is especially spectacular in B.C. and Alaska because of the tremendous upwellings of deep ocean nutrients. The only downside is that those same nutrients preclude the blue, blue water that we see further south.

Will I get seasick?

Not very likely. Trips along the sheltered seas of the Inside Passage of B.C. and Alaska are usually in calm and protected waters. There may occasionally be some motion for short periods of time. Guests are often surprised that there is virtually no motion on the vessel for days at a time. Southbound trips from Alaska to the Queen Charlotte Islands do include 2 open ocean runs but the ride should still be comfortable.

If you are worried about getting sea sick we suggest you talk to your pharmacist about getting "The Patch" Scopolamine. The patch has opened up the world of liveaboard diving to guests who are prone to sea sickness.

What's the diving like?

The diving in SE Alaska is very similar to B.C. The best sites are located on the outer coast where massive upwellings of nutrients sweep along vertical walls. You will see incredibly prolific and beautiful invertebrate life including lots anemones, sponges, tunicates and soft corals and the area is famous for giant octopus, wolf eels and sea lion encounters. Alaska also has a very rich history of shipwrecks and we often visit the wrecks of the Princess Sophia, Princess Kathleen, FV Transpac, SS Ohio, State of California and one "mystery wreck" (complete with intact brass portholes, dishes and lots of other neat stuff).While the topography can be very steep and strong currents provide some timing challenges (and discipline) in order to dive at "slack", our experienced crew and custom designed 38 foot dive skiff are there to make your life easy and the diving "good fun".

Will I be restricted in my diving?

Only by common sense. On the Nautilus, we cater to the more experienced diver. We treat guests the way we would like to be treated if we were on vacation and do not restrict divers to diving with a buddy, recreational dive limits of 130 feet, 30 minute dive times and the like. We will "turn you loose" as long as you are suitably experienced and are willing to take responsibility for your own actions. Our Alaskan Expeditions average 2 dives a day as there are many other activities onboard plus all sorts of other experiences and adventures.  There will likely be 3 or 4 dives on some days and other days without any diving at all.

What do you do to ensure diver safety?

Your safety is our primary concern. With many years of operating experience, we have fine tuned our "safe diving practices" and average less than 1 DCI incident per 14,000 dives. We require that divers do a 3 - 5 minute "safety" stop on every dive, be on the surface at the "pool closed time" and arrive at 20 fsw with a minimum of 500 psi in their main tank. If you conceal important medical information from us or ignore any of the above "rules", we reserve the right to limit or cancel your diving privileges without reimbursement or credit. Our motto is "let's have a ton of fun but not have anybody get hurt". In the worst case situation, we always have at least 20 cubic metres of medical oxygen onboard and satellite phone communication as well as an AED and crew members trained as oxygen providers as well as marine first aid.

Can we bring along less experienced divers?

Alaska and B.C. diving is way cool, infinitely challenging, extremely beautiful and very rewarding. However, it may not be suitable for less experienced divers or those with poor physical conditioning or dive skills. Divers will be required to be capable of swimming 50 - 100' on the surface (in a no wind or current situation). Please email us if you have any concerns.

Is divemastering available?

Yes, group divemastering and dive guiding is available on all dives and we will always provide you with a detailed briefing before every dive. In fact, we are famous for our briefings. Individual divemastering is usually only available by prior arrangement for which there may be an additional fee.

What is the largest group you will take?

We have 2 executive suites and 9 staterooms onboard which makes for really comfortable accommodation for 22 guests based on double occupancy. 2 dorm berths are also available and located adjacent to the crew's quarters. We will not book more than 24 guests onboard. Guest often comment that our 38' skiff is the least crowded, fastest and most diver friendly boat they have ever used. During your dive, you may see other guests in the water but, because of the size of the sites combined with the current, you definitely won't feel crowded.

Can we bring kids along?

Maybe. Most trips are adult orientated with a minimum age of 14. However, some trips are more family orientated. If you charter the "whole boat", there is no restriction on the age or number of kids onboard.

Does every stateroom really have private facilities?

Yes with a head, shower, porthole or window as well as "real" beds side by side, shelf unit, excellent ventilation and air conditioning.

Do you allow fishing?

You are welcome to try your hand at salmon or halibut fishing in season at a limited number of locations from a kayak or from shore. Alaska state law precludes any fishing from the Nautilus itself nor are we allowed to provide "guiding". The rock-fish population is under immense pressure and consequently, we will not allow "jigging" in rockpiles or along reef structure. For your safety, we also require that you remain within visual range of the Nautilus. If you are interested in doing anything more than a wee bit of relaxing fishing, we would be happy to help arrange a "fishing charter" on the side.

Can we kayak with dolphins and whales?

No, not in Alaska or British Columbia.  It is possible to kayak with humpback whales on some of our Mexico trips.  Please inquire for more details.

How much of a crew gratuity should I leave?

That depends strictly on what you thought of the service level onboard and if the crew went "above and beyond" for you. Most people leave a tip of USD200 to USD350 on these trips.