After leaving Juneau we cruised through the night and entered magnificent Glacier Bay the next morning. As we entered the Bay, National Park Rangers boarded the ship and narrated the cruise for us.
According to the National Park website: “Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world’s largest international protected areas.”
And to think I’d never heard of it before planning our cruise! Once I learned of Glacier Bay, I knew any Alaska itinerary must include it. It did not disappoint. Indeed, it became the highlight of our trip. Though the skies were overcast, and a light rain was falling as we entered the Bay, we knew we were in for something special. Wispy clouds covered mountain tops and glacier polished rock stood proudly on all sides; sea otters and seals swam in the beautiful milky green waters, mountain goats as puffs of white could be seen on steep hillsides.
Our first major destination was Margerie Glacier which we approached around 10:00 am. “If a glacier is fed by enough snow to flow out of the mountains and down to the sea, we call it a “tidewater” glacier – the type many people come to Glacier Bay to see. The park and preserve includes 7 tidewater glaciers that break off or “calve” into saltwater at sea level, and a few others that reach the sea at high tide only. The show can be spectacular.” (From the National Park Website.)
It was. As we neared the glacier, we heard the thunderous roar as chunks of ice exploded and crashed into the water.
We lingered near Margerie for an hour before moving on to nearby John Hopkins Inlet and its glacier.
John Hopkins Inlet is a narrow fjord inaccessible to most ships. It’s closed during July and August as the seals of southeast Alaska congregate here to give birth to their young. It reopens in September.
‘Look ahead for what appears to be little black sausages on the ice,’ the Park Ranger told us over the loudspeaker. ‘Those are the seals born this summer.’ And there they were!
This one even posed for us.
After several hours of cruising, we finally departed Glacier Bay in the afternoon and headed south towards Sitka.
Yes, the weather could have been better. The cloud cover meant we missed some of the mountain peaks in the background. But no matter; we have seen mountains. We were there for the glaciers.
A place I aspire to visit again.