“Forks down, now!” Our onboard naturalist barked the order just as dessert was served on American Safari Cruises’ yacht, Safari Spirit.

“Bears are feeding nearby!”

Without another word, we grabbed our coats and cameras and jumped into the skiff, which was always at the ready.

Andrea Rotondo at sea

We cut the outboard motor as we closed in on the shoreline and paddled quietly toward momma bear and her three cubs.

We stopped just feet away and watched the cubs play and clumsily trip over blades of sea grass.

In that moment I could hear just three things: momma chewing on the vegetation, shutters madly clicking away, and the hushed voices of my traveling companions all agreeing that this was the way to see Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Andrea M. Rotondo is a luxury cruise journalist and editor of her blog the LuxuryCruiseBible