Ice, Ice, Baby!

One of the determining factors of choosing this cruise was that there were three days of glacier visits! First up was Sawyer Glacier. Even though the glacier visits were not sequential, I am lumping them together in one post and will post information on our port visits later. First up was Sawyer Glacier. DSC_3152

If you were up bright and early (and we were), the ship sailed up Endicott Arm to Dawes Glacier at approximately 5:30 am. We were scheduled to go through Tracy Arm but it was apparently too icy for us to do that. This is a common occurrence from what I understand. The last time we sailed here we were able to see two icebergs that calved from underwater, aka “shooters”. I posted a link to a video of this in a previous blog post.

Endicott arm is a narrow fjord with steep mountains on both sides. The closer you get to the glacier, the more ice you see floating in the water. Some of the ice is white, some shades of blue. The water in the fjord is a beautiful jade green. The weather was cloudy. I have heard that glacial ice is more blue when the sky is cloudy; I don’t know if that is true or not. We sat on our balcony and watched the beautiful scenery. I absolutely love glaciers and icebergs. I took numerous pictures of the ice formations as we sailed by. I was not able to spy any wildlife; that would have been a bonus!

The captain stopped the ship well shy of the glacier. There would be no chance to see any calving; we were way too far away. If this was going to be our only glacier visit, I would’ve felt ripped off. He rotated the ship 360⁰ so everyone could view the glacier and suggested that everyone have the zoom on their camera ready so they could get some photographs. I was glad to have a good zoom! And, I was glad that we would be seeing other glaciers. I sincerely hope that we can get closer to some of the glaciers in Glacier Bay.

I took many more ice pictures on the way back out of Endicott Arm. We continued on to Juneau. Along the way I spotted (very briefly) a few whales (though I don’t have any pictures to prove it!

Glacier Bay

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Next up: Glacier Bay. We entered Glacier Bay at 6:00 am. The weather forecast was for a warm (60⁰F) and sunny day. The weather forecast was way off! It was pouring down rain; the rain came down in sheets.

We thought we should sit in the observation lounge in order to take advantage of the large viewing area. I am always on the lookout for whales and other marine life so wanted to be able to see a panoramic view We brought our binoculars and camera so that we would be ready for any exciting views that came our way. The only thing we were able to see were sheets of rain. To add to the excitement, there was a leak in the roof directly over where I was seated. We decided that the view from our balcony would be much better. At least the doors are covered so you can see something other than raindrops!

We hung out on our balcony until we got cold, then decided to find a chair on deck 7 (one floor above the atrium). We were able to score good seats right by the window and like our balcony doors, the windows were covered so we could see out of them. The scenery was spectacular, despite the lousy weather. The mountains had more snow because it is still relatively early in the year and there were pockets of fog surrounding some of the peaks. We spotted a seal, but no whales.

Our first glacier stop was Margerie Glacier; the showstopper of Glacier Bay. There are 1045 glaciers located here; 50 are named. The captain stopped here for an hour; after a half-hour he rotated the ship so the other side could view the glacier. At that point we returned to our cabin since it was located on the “glacier” side. We were able to see the glacier calve several times. I am posting a small sampling of my pictures; I took nearly one hundred! I kept trying to capture the colors and beauty of what I was seeing (an impossible task). I so love the sensory experience of the glaciers. Not only is it amazingly beautiful, but I also love the sounds of calving as well as the “snap, crackle and pop” of the icebergs in the water.

The ranger also pointed out Grand Pacific Glacier. This one is covered in dirt and debris so not nearly as beautiful as Margerie.

We stopped briefly at the Lamplugh Glacier. As before, the captain rotated the ship so both sides could enjoy the glacier. This was a much smaller glacier but we were able to get a little closer to it. Of course, I took some more glacier pics! No calving here, but the blues in the ice were spectacular.

Our final glacier visit was to Hubbard Glacier. We cruised through Yakutat Bay towards the glacier and were supposed to arrive at 10:00 am. The cruise director came over the intercom around 10 to let us know that due to icy conditions near the glacier and fog in the area, we would not be able to view the glacier. The captain decided it was not safe. This would have been a huge bummer if we had not already seen three other glaciers. Hubbard is a really spectacular glacier because it is extremely active, so lots of calving activity. I must admit, this is the glacier I was most looking forward to seeing. I guess now we have another reason to come back to Alaska!

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