Galley Gourmet Adds Whale Watching Tours to List of Scrumptious Dinner Cruises

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Famous for its brown bears and seafood, now you can add whale-watching to Kodiak, Alaska's list of big attractions.

Famous for its brown bears and seafood, now you can add whale-watching to Kodiak, Alaska's list of big attractions.

For years, places like Glacier Bay and Kenai Fjords have shared the stage as Alaska's prime, marine mammal viewing areas. But the spotlight has recently turned to Kodiak Island.

"Kodiak is one of Alaska's top whale-watching areas," says Kate Wynne, Marine Mammal Specialist for the University of Alaska. "The nutrient-rich waters surrounding the Kodiak archipelago provide an ideal habitat for diverse populations of marine mammals, including Steller sea lions, sea otters, Dall's and white-sided porpoises -- and whales."

The whale migration to northern waters begins in early spring with gray whales leading the parade followed by fin, minke, humpback and sei whales. From June through November, fin and humpback whales can be seen in abundance, often during fishing charters. Orca, or killer whales, also frequent Kodiak Island waters.

Fine dining with whales

There's more to whale watching than meets the eye, however. One local business combines whale watching with gourmet cuisine on Galley Gourmet's dinner cruises (http://www.kodiak-alaska-dinner-cruises.com). Husband-wife team Marty and Marion Owen share the chores: Marty, the Coast Guard licensed-skipper, drives the boat while Marion's the chef. "After we drop anchor, I become the busboy," muses Marty. The 42-foot Sea Breeze is the setting for an ideal "feast underway." The teak-finished yacht is delightfully appointed -- and the Owens provide binoculars for all their guests.

Marion loves to cook. "Whenever possible, we use local, organic produce and wild Alaska seafood to showcase the wonderful resources available right in our backyard," she said.

While dinner guests rarely leave crumbs on their plates, they often ignore their dessert, even the Owens' famous rhubarb-chocolate cake. "It's Marty's fault," laughs Marion. "He pulls the anchor and says, 'Dinner's over, let's go whale-watching!'"

"Marty really likes to show off Kodiak," said Scott McMurren, an Anchorage-based travel writer. "We've sailed with Galley Gourmet several times and we've seen humpback whales, killer whales and all sorts of other critters. Even though we live in Alaska, it still is an incredible sight to see when one of those giant sea creatures comes to the surface to see what's going on!" he said.

Galley Gourmet now offers 6-hour whale-watching excursions, which include a gourmet lunch. Groups are small, limited to six guests.

Getting to Kodiak Island

As the second largest island in the U.S., following the Hawaii's Big Island, Kodiak is accessible by air and sea: As a 45-minute flight south from Anchorage, Alaska's largest city and via the Alaska Marine Highway System, which provides passenger and vehicle ferry service to Kodiak from Homer and Whittier.

For more information

Galley Gourmet dinner cruises cost $120 per person; $250 per person for whale-watching trips. For more details visit the website http://www.kodiak-alaska-dinner-cruises.com or call 1-800-253-6331 (US and Canada) or 907-486-5079.

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MARION OWEN

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