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Summer Travels: Cruising Alaska Continues: Skagway to Glacier Bay

  • (photos courtesy of Jo Anne Disney)
  • (photos courtesy of Jo Anne Disney)
  • (photos courtesy of Jo Anne Disney)

by Jo Anne Disney

Glacier Bay

The next stop on the Alaskan Cruise was Glacier Bay, a distance of 111 nautical miles from Skagway. Glacier Bay is a one of a kind experience. Seeing the glaciers in all of their splendor is the most breathtaking site I think I have ever encountered. Glacier Bay is described as “a homeland, a natural lab, a wilderness, a national park, a United Nations biosphere reserve, and a world heritage site.” History tells us that 250 years ago, Glacier Bay was “all glacier and no bay. A massive river of ice, roughly 100 miles long and thousands of feet deep, occupied the entire bay.” Unfortunately today the glacier is gone and only fewer “tidewater glaciers” remain.
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site. It is “one of the world’s largest protected natural areas designated by UNESCO.” Vessels cannot enter Glacier Bay without permits and the park rangers as guides. Since the cruise ship never stops, the rangers board the ship by cruising along side and climbing the ladder. The rangers remain on board and describe the glaciers as the ship slowly cruises the area for the passengers to be given plenty of time to take photos. Then the rangers get back on their boat and head home.

The glaciers are a beautiful aqua color and we were fortunate enough to see a piece break off and fall into the bay. The sound can only be described as mighty and amazing all at the same time!
I spoke to a friend who took an Alaskan cruise over 30 years ago. At that time their cruise ship was guided through Glacier Bay because the glaciers were so close to the ship. That is definitely not the case today. It seems to be a prime example of what Global Warming is doing to our planet. So before Glacier Bay becomes extinct, visit a true wonder of the world.

Our next stop:  College Fjord

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