Cunard has announced an exciting new line-up for Alaska 2023’s Insights enrichment program, which will be headlined by famed outdoor adventurer, Bear Grylls.
Grylls – who once made headlines for drinking his own urine on his hugely popular survival series – will be joining Queen Elizabeth’s maiden 2023 Alaska voyage, roundtrip out of Vancouver on June 8, where he will share his experience as one of the youngest-ever climbers of Mount Everest, bestselling author, TV presenter and all-round adventurer.
This voyage will mark the first time Bear has returned to Alaska since his memorable visit with the then-President of the United States, Barack Obama, in 2015 – and his first appearance ever, speaking on a cruise ship.
“I’ve been a fan of Bear Grylls since Man vs Wild and I’m thrilled that our guests will be able to see him live on Queen Elizabeth next year,” said Matt Gleaves, VP of Commercial for Cunard in North America and Australasia.
“Alaska is all about exploration and our line-up of world-class pioneers will bring the adventure onboard; it will be an experience not found anywhere else.”
The 12-night voyage will see guests experience the stunning Glacier Bay National Park, Tracy Arm Fjord and Hubbard Glacier, with port calls in Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and more.
Queen Elizabeth will sail six further voyages from Vancouver throughout June, July and August, while visiting a number of ports, including Skagway, Juneau, Anchorage and Sitka.
Each voyage has its own thrilling adventure and exploration Insights Programme, featuring naturalist, Dr Rachel Cartwright, a Cultural Heritage Guide from Alaska Native Voices, as well as talks and Q&A sessions from an expert in the field of adventure and exploration.
These experts include British mountaineer Kenton Cool – who has summited Mount Everest 15 times, Ann Daniels – one of Britain’s leading polar explorers and the first woman in history to ski to the North and South Poles as part of an all-women team, and Felicity Aston – Polar scientist turned explorer, author, TV presenter and world-record holder for being the first woman to ski alone across the Antarctic.
One voyage will also feature British maritime archaeologist Mensun Bound, who has led some of the most famous shipwreck discoveries, including the discovery of Shackleton’s lost ship Endurance earlier this year in Antarctica.
Sture Myrmell, President of Carnival UK, said: “We’re delighted to welcome all of our world-class adventurers onboard next year for yet another fantastic enrichment programme. There’s no better way to experience Alaska – one of the most magnificent places in the world – than aboard the magnificent Queen Elizabeth!”
You can find the full lineup for the Alaska 2023 Insights Programme below:
BEAR GRYLLS (8 June)
Bear Grylls is probably the most recognisable face of adventure on the planet. The former 21 SAS soldier was one of the youngest ever climbers of Mt Everest, despite breaking his back in a free-fall accident only months earlier.
Bear’s TV shows include the legendary Discovery channel show Man Vs Wild and the hit show Running Wild with Bear Grylls, now in its seventh season on National Geographic Channel.
His Running Wild guests have included President Obama (in Alaska), Roger Federer, Julia Roberts, Prime Minister Modi of India and most recently, Hollywood stars Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.
Bear is a family man, a No. 1 bestselling author who has sold over 20 million books, the Honorary Colonel to the British Royal Marine Commandos and the first-ever Chief Ambassador to 55 million young Scouts worldwide.
KENTON COOL (20 June and 30 June)
Kenton Cool is an English mountaineer and mountain guide. He is one of Britain’s leading alpine and high-altitude climbers and has summited Mount Everest fifteen times, including leading Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ 2008 and 2009 Expeditions and Ben Fogle’s 2019 Expedition.
He has completed over 20 notable expeditions in the Greater Ranges and, in 2013, became the first person to climb Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse in a single push without returning to base camp.
He has also skied two, 8,000m mountains and guided a successful Expedition to the summit of K2. He has also led expeditions through Alaska including North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley.
PEN HADOW (7 July)
Explorer and Adventurer Pen Hadow was catapulted to international fame when he became the first and only person to complete one of the last great polar challenges – solo, without re-supply, from Canada to the North Pole.
It took him three attempts over 15 years to achieve this single feat at the ‘bleeding edge of exploration’.
Pen has a strong connection with Alaska in his adventures, including attempting to sail to the North Pole from Nome, Alaska.
ANN DANIELS (17 July)
Ann Daniels is one of Britain’s leading Polar explorers. In 2002 Ann became a world record holder when she reached the North Pole despite unbelievable arctic conditions and became the first woman in history to ski to the North and South Poles as part of an all women team. This journey has never been repeated.
In 2009, Ann took part in the first Catlin Arctic Survey over a period of 100 days, 1000km crossing of the ice cap in temperatures as low as minus 50ºC. The survey set off from Alaska, walking, skiing and on occasions swimming stretches of open water to reach the North Geographic Pole. Ann is described by The Daily Telegraph as one of the top 20 Great British Adventurers of all time.
FELICITY ASTON (27 July)
Felicity Aston is a Polar Scientist turned Explorer.
In 2012 she became the first woman to ski alone across the Antarctic, a 1744km/1084m journey that took her 59-days and entered her in the Guinness Book of World Records.
She has also created and led record-making ski expeditions to both the North and South Geographic Poles with international teams of pioneering women, skied frozen rivers and lakes in Siberia, driven 36,000km to the Pole of Cold (the coldest inhabited place on Earth), flown across the United States in an airship and run the Marathon Des Sables footrace in the Sahara. An award-winning author of three books, professional speaker, and occasional TV presenter, in 2016 Felicity retraced the route of the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush and spent time mining for gold in Alaska and the Yukon to co-present a series for the BBC.
MENSUN BOUND (7 August)
Known as the ‘Indiana Jones of the Deep’, Mensun Bound has conducted wreck surveys and excavations all over the world in a career that spanned 40 years.
During that time, he excavated one of the oldest known shipwrecks (600 BC).
In 2019, Bound stunned the world with his discovery of Admiral von Spee’s flagship, Scharnhorst which had been lost in battle during WWI.
That same year, Bound was Director of Exploration for the first search to find Shackleton’s ship ‘Endurance’. In 2022, the search resumed and on 5th March the Endurance was found and, as predicted by Bound, it was upright, largely intact, proud of the seabed in an excellent state of preservation.