The luck we had in Denali weather-wise continued for the cruise portion of our trip with the exception of the first day at sea when we were scheduled to sail to Hubbard Glacier. The fog was too dense and we couldn’t make it in to the bay. It was a little disappointing but after the time we had the next day at Glacier Bay, I couldn’t be too upset.
When we arrived to Glacier Bay the next morning, the fog was still hanging pretty low, but it made for some neat views.
Then the sun started burning off the fog, which also made for some picturesque views.
Shortly after we entered the protected area of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserves, park rangers boarded the ship and would stay on board the entire day giving commentary on what we were looking at . One of them referred to Glacier Bay National Park as a “magical place.” Soon after I heard her say this, the magic started.
I was inside the bathroom in our state room when Brian came in from the balcony asking where the binoculars were because he spotted some whales. I immediately ran outside to see the start of what ended up being a water show like no other water show I have ever seen.
There were whales swimming around, blowing water out of their spouts, breaching and slapping their tales against the water. Not just two or three whales, but dozens. One right after the other. This is when a mega zoom lens would have come in handy, but they were still close enough to capture decent shots.
The whales were so close to the ship you could clearly hear them blowing out of their blowholes. But what should have been the “money shot” was cut off too short when two whales breached side-by-side. I saw them come up, I lifted and pointed my camera and started shooting and was just a tad too short and cut them off the bottom.
Next came the sea otters, which I did not get pictures of since they were too far away but I got good views through the binoculars. There were also puffins, which I also saw from a distance.
We wanted to get a view off both sides of the ship, so we left our room and headed to the forward Caribe deck balcony, which was literally, just outside our door as our room was two from the very front of the ship. I found out about by the “secret balcony” by spending time on CruiseCritic.com before the cruise. It’s not shown on the official deck plans. Few people knew about it, apparently, because it was never crowded, and was a great place for viewing, depending on who you’re sharing the balcony with.
Here’s my public service announcement for all of you parents: Your kids don’t want to go to Alaska. They want to be at Disney World. And when you force your kids to go on a vacation they don’t want to be on, they will be miserable and make the people around them miserable. #themoreyouknow (cue the shooting star and rainbow. Ding ding dingg) Go ahead, flame me. No, I do not have kids, but I was a kid once and I know I would have been just as bored as the kids we encountered on that balcony. Although I’d like to think I would have been less bratty.
Glacier Bay is, indeed, a magical place and the only way to truly take in its beauty is to silently watch. In the quiet calm, there’s such a sense of serenity that is indescribable. I was in this serene mental place, happily watching the whales jump on either side of the boat with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop, the only noise I could hear was the whales and the sound of the ship cutting its way through the water. Then: I DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT GLACIERS. GLACIERS ARE STUPID! NO, I DON’T WANT TO WHALE WATCH. WHALES ARE STUPID TOO!!! (yes, this is exactly what the kid was saying. Very loudly. Over and over)
I suddenly remembered why we paid for a balcony room.
Serenity now. Back to the room.
We decided to take advantage of room service and have lunch with a view from our balcony. We were just finishing up lunch when we came upon the star of Glacier Bay, Margerie Glacier.
Margerie is rare in that she is a healthy glacier that is actually growing. We took many, many pictures but they will do nothing to show the grandness of this natural wonder. Margerie is one-mile wide and more than 300 feet tall, which you definitely cannot tell from this photo.
As we sat watching, we suddenly heard a loud noise that sounded like thunder. I remembered reading what this sound meant. Grab the camera!! it’s calving!, I yelled at Brian. Then we saw the big splash in the water below the wall of ice.
The pictures don’t really capture the calving all that well because of Margerie’s massive size. We agreed that while the chunks we saw fall off looked small, they were likely the size of a car or even a house. It’s hard to gain size perspective when everything surrounding it is massive.
Next to Margerie is the Grand Pacific glacier. It’s not nearly as pretty. Actually we probably wouldn’t know it was a glacier had someone not told us. It is black, as opposed to the white and blue shades of Margerie, from all of the debris it has picked up in its retreat. Pretty it is not, but significant in that it is the glacier credited with forming most of the 3.3 million-acre Glacier Bay.
Once we left Margerie and the Grand Pacific glaciers, Brian wanted to go get a workout in since we had a big dinner planned (more on that later). I wanted to take in the sites a while longer so he headed to the gym and I headed back to the Caribe balcony (the kids had left). I sat out there watching the landscape change as we sailed back toward the bay’s entrance. I started feeling anxious since I hadn’t worked out yet that day and had a big night planned. Then it dawned on me that my favorite way to explore new places is by lacing up the running shoes, so why not do that here. How many people get to run through Glacier Bay?! So, I headed back to the room, changed in to my running clothes, laced up the shoes, and hit the promenade deck. On each loop around the track, I got a different view of the scenery surrounding the ship. And if there was something more beautiful on one side, the loop around was made that much quicker to make it back to that view. The air was so incredibly fresh, the temperature perfect and the views unmatched. It was a perfect way to explore Glacier Bay from the decks of the ship while getting in a workout. It was also just simply a spectacular run. I looped round and round that deck for a total of 4.5 memorable miles.