Glacier Bay is one of the most incredible places we have ever visited. The National Park is situated in Southeast Alaska and was our last stop in the Panhandle region of Alaska before sailing across the open seas on the northern Pacific Ocean to Seward, a journey that took a day and a half.
A serene wilderness of glacial fjords, snow-capped mountains, a marine park, a world heritage site and a designated biosphere reserve, Glacier Bay is simply unique. It can only be reached by sea and there is a delicate balance to be maintained between allowing cruise ships in whilst respecting the terrain and natural environment here.
The Unesco World Heritage Site website describes biosphere reserves as ‘learning places for sustainable development’. You can read more by following the link to the Unesco site here.
We had sailed from our last stop, Skagway, the previous night. After breakfast, local rangers came on board our ship to act as tour guides for this unique area (we remained on board ship the whole time)
We were so fortunate to have a clear, crisp and sunny day, indeed our captain said the weather and visibility were amongst the best he could remember in the bay in the whole of his maritime career. Many times it is too foggy, wet and gloomy to see much at all.
Words don’t do justice to our day here and neither do photos but they help to create an impression of our experience.
As we sailed up the channel being entertained by the sea otters floating on their backs alongside the boat, we started to see small chunks of ice bobbing along on top of the water. They had broken off the tidewater glaciers that we had come to see. Unlike inland valley glaciers, as their name suggests, tidewaters flow into the sea.
After lunch served on deck by the crew (fish and chips, which was just what we needed to keep the chill at bay), we sailed close to the glaciers. The atmosphere was so still and quiet, the silence punctuated only by the occasional crash of a large piece of ice sheering off the huge ice wall.
It was breathtaking! We were able to stay close to the large glaciers for about half an hour before turning round to allow space for another ship to enter the bay though we spent some considerable time in a nearby inlet admiring the stunning scenery.
It was so peaceful, a feeling of being in the middle of nowhere and a chance to completely relax and simply breathe in the pristine air.
Overall the time we spent in Glacier Bay was a truly memorable and rare experience. We felt so privileged to have had the opportunity to visit and learn so much about the biodiversity and environment of this fragile and beautiful part of the world.
Our day in Glacier Bay was our last stop in the Southeast Alaskan “Panhandle”. Later that night we set sail across the open ocean to our disembarkation port of Seward on the main part of Alaska. All my previous posts on our Alaskan cruise are collated here.
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