Hubbard Glacier Vs Glacier Bay: Bottom Line
Fortunately, some Alaska itineraries include both Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay, making the choice between the two nonexistent. But if you’ve got your heart set on seeing both, double-check your itinerary before booking.
If you have to choose, keep the time of year in mind. Ships most likely will not sail past Hubbard Glacier during the early or late parts of the Alaska season, as temperatures might be too low for waters in and around Hubbard to remain ice free.
In general, if you’ve never been on an Alaska cruise, we recommend a cruise that sails Glacier Bay for the full experience. But if you’re impressed by sheer size or if you’ve already experienced Glacier Bay, choose an itinerary that includes Hubbard Glacier.
Getting To Glacier Bay
As noted above, a large percentage of Glacier Bays visitors arrive by cruise ship. The typical cruise that includes a visit to Glacier Bay is a seven-night Alaska voyage out of Vancouver, B.C., or Seattle that also includes stops at the Alaskan towns of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. The visit to Glacier Bay fills just one day of the seven-night trip.
Two major lines with historic ties to the park Princess Cruises and Holland America offer the most sailings that include a visit to Glacier Bay. The National Park Service allows just two ships a day into the park, and arrivals are governed by a permitting system that gives preference to lines that operated in the park before the permitting system began.
Norwegian Cruise Line, Seabourn, Cunard Line, Crystal Cruises and Viking also have ships that visit the park, as do small-ship operators UnCruise Adventures, Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions and American Cruise Lines.
A trip on a cruise ship isnt the only way to get into Glacier Bay. Would-be visitors also can fly or take a ferry to Gustavus, a tiny town on the edge of the park thats near the access point for a tour boat that travels into the park daily. Dubbed Baranof Wind and operated by park concessionaire Aramark, the tour boat departs from Bartlett Cove, which is just inside the park boundary and the home to the parks visitor center.
The two main airlines that fly to Juneau are Alaska Airlines and Delta.
Scenic Cruising In Alaska: Glacier Bay Vs Tracy Arm Vs Hubbard Glacier
Scenic cruising is one of the big attractions of an Alaska cruise. The ship enters a watery culdesac, frequented mainly by birds and sea creatures at the end, a massive glacier awaits in icy splendor. Passengers race to deck railings to watch chunks of ice break off and crash into the water with a thunderous sound, or pull out binoculars to spot otters and eagles.
Most cruise ships will cruise up and down the Inside Passage to get from port to port, but which glacier-lined scenic waterway they pull into for photo opps varies by line and sailing. Popular spots include Glacier Bay National Park, Hubbard Glacier, Tracy Arm, and Endicott Arm.
Does it matter which scenic cruising spot is on your itinerary? Should you choose a cruise based on which glacier its planning to see? If youve never been to Alaska, youll likely be wowed by all of the glacial hotspots, but heres what you should know about each of the key scenic cruising spots as you browse Alaska cruise itinerary options.
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Cruise Ships In Glacier Bay
| A cruise ship dwarfed by the mountains of Glacier Bay
Most visitors to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve spend a day in Glacier Bay on large cruise ships as part of a longer cruise originating at a major west coast city. It is an amazing day cruising through the best of Alaska. The spectacular scenery and wildlife of Glacier Bay make it a highlight of any Alaska cruise. The ship travels into the heart of the Fairweather Mountains for a trip into the ice ages. Watch for icebergs and calving glaciers. Scan the shorelines for wildlife…brown bears, mountain goats, sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, and a variety of seabirds are regularly seen.
What to Expect
Top Things To Do And See In Glacier Bay National Park
Cruises to Glacier Bay National Park combine nature and wildlife, dramatic landscapes, adventure activities, relaxation, and the chance to explore remote villages and see the local way of life. Cruise itineraries generally combine a variety of experiences so that you can enjoy the very best of Glacier Bay National Park. Top things to enjoy on cruises around Glacier Bay include:
Glaciers – Stunning glaciers that are surrounded by snow-capped peaks and verdant forests are sure to take your breath away. Admire these huge natural wonders, and watch as the landscapes gradually change, with huge blocks of ice calving away and crashing into the waters. The is a particularly exceptional spot for witnessing the majesty of nature. John Hopkins Glacier is incredibly photogenic, whilst McBride Glacier is a terrific place for kayaking.
Wildlife – An abundance of wildlife calls Glacier Bay National Park home, and small ship cruises let you get even closer to an array of fascinating creatures. Watch as whales and seals glide through the icy waters whilst sea lions and sea otters frolic nearby, look to the skies and observe eagles soaring above, and see bears, deer, wolves, and moose roaming on dry land. Other animals that populate the area include squirrels, weasels, foxes, ermines, marmots, and minks.
Top Tips for visiting Glacier Bay National Park
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Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park is the mack daddy of all the scenic cruising sites. So much so that cruise lines need to submit applications in advance and compete to garner the coveted use-day spots. Holland America and Princess have historical rights to nearly half the spots, and cruise lines that fail to secure access can only try again every 10 years.
Ships that visit Glacier Bay will spend approximately nine hours in the park, entering the bay from Icy Strait and sailing to either the John Hopkins glacier or the Grand Pacific and Margerie Glaciers at the bays farthest ends. Park rangers join each cruise ship from the park headquarters near Glacier Bays entrance and offer live narration about the park and its sights, as well as answer questions.
Keep your binoculars at the ready, and scan the sea, sky, and slopes for bears, mountain goats, bald eagles, sea lions, seals, and sea otters. Even if you dont spot any wildlife, your time on deck will be rewarded when the ship cuts its engines and slowly revolves, so everyone can ogle at the gigantic ice-blue glaciers that run down to the sea.
Glacier Bay National Park is located northwest of Juneau and diagonally across the channel from Icy Strait Point.
Luxurious At Funds Costs
Should you cant afford a luxurious cruise line comparable to Seabourn, Viking, or Regent, Holland America is an effective possibility at a extra affordable value. Youll discover lots of the facilities discovered on higher-end cruise strains at a a lot decrease value. Indulgent touches embrace luxurious beds and linens, Egyptian cotton towels, and the comfortable bathrobes seen in upscale lodges. The impeccable service is because of nearly one crew member for each two friends. Complimentary room service is on the market for even the bottom cabin class. Meals and wine aboard Holland America ships can compete with the highest luxurious cruise strains. .
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Hubbard Glacier Vs Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier
Hubbard Glacier and Dawes Glacier are similar to each other since they are both large, active tidewater glaciers that have regular calving displays. However, there are some small differentiating details you might want to consider before booking a cruise that includes stops in either destination.
Harbor seals in Endicott Arm, Alaska
Endicott Arm is a great place to spot wildlife in action, as its one of the worlds largest breeding sites for harbor seals, so youre guaranteed to see your fair share of animals during your cruise there.
Also, aside from its show-stopping visit to Dawes Glacier, a trip to Endicott Arm also offers views of other natural wonders along the way, including waterfalls, granite cliffs, and floating icebergs.
On the other hand, if youre looking for a massive calving display, then you cant go wrong by booking a cruise to Hubbard Glacier. As the largest active glacier in North Americaits over 76 miles long and 600 feet tallHubbard Glacier offers an unforgettable chance to witness this icy natural phenomenon in action.
Watch: Alaska Cruise: Experience The Last Frontier
Are you ready to book your Alaska cruise and see these iconic glaciers and fjords up close? Browse Alaska cruise itineraries online or speak with your travel agent and start planning your dream vacation to the Last Frontier. Keep in mind, due to the limited length of the Alaska cruise season , popular sailing dates and the best staterooms can sell out quickly, so dont delay.
Activists Gather In Anchorage To Deliver Petition Demanding Suspension Of Permits Until Third
TRADITIONAL LANDS OF THE DENAINA PEOPLES Activists with the Clean Up Carnival Coalition held a press conference outside the National Park Services Anchorage Regional Office on Monday, February 10, and delivered a petition signed by more than 46,000 people to the federal agency calling for the suspension of Carnival Corporations cruise ship permits in Glacier Bay National Park the ancestral lands of the Huna Tlingit until the company installs third-party monitoring of water and air pollution on its ships and makes the data available to the public in real time.
The move comes after Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy eliminated funding for Ocean Rangers, the state’s program for on-board cruise ship inspectors. The program was created by a ballot initiative and was paid for by cruise ship passengers until the Governor’s veto in July 2019.
At the press conference, activists held 10-by-10 ft banners that read Protect Alaska Waters, No Permits for Polluters and Keep Out: Glacier Bay Cruise Pollution. Nearby, an art installation of an 8-foot-long cruise ship belched pollution.
MULTIMEDIA: Photos and video from the press conference will be uploaded throughout the day at .
Clean Up Carnival Coalition representatives from environmental organizations Stand.earth, Pacific Environment, Friends of the Earth US were joined by Wanda Culp, a member of the Huna Tlingit, whose ancestral territories include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.
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Best Glaciers On An Alaska Cruise
Almost every cruise to Alaska includes a visit to a tidewater glacier, glaciers which flow into the ocean, often with powerful calving. The most popular destinations are Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, Prince William Sound, or Tracy Arm. Some boats visit more than one of these spots, particularly cruises that combine the Inside Passage with an Interior land tour. But most cruises only visit one of these locations, so youll want to find out the itinerary before you book. Weve described the experiences below, to help you decide.
Pros: Big, big, big! Big glacier face, big vistas and big icebergsCons: Open, not fjord experience. Can be kept at distance by ice and fog
The biggest glacier visited by cruise ships, the Hubbard is truly impressive. With a 6-mile wide, 400-foot tall face, the blue ice will seem to envelop your boat, especially if you can get up close. On good days, youll get to within 1/2 mile of the face. But ice can keep cruise ships at a distance of several miles, particularly in August and September when warmer temperatures and rainfall can cause more calving. The Hubbard is in Disenchantment Bay near the outer coast town of Yakutat, and offers large vistas on clear days, including Mt. St Elias at 18,008 feet. You wont get the experience of traveling up a fjord to reach the Hubbard, nor will you have as much wildlife as other spotsalthough seals haul out on icebergs. But for a huge glacier and lots of icebergs, Hubbard is hard to beat.
Loss Of Cruise Ship Business Upends Glacier Bay National Park’s Budget
The loss of cruise ships this summer from Glacier Bay National Park is dealing the park a financial blow/Kurt Repanshek file
While national parks across the country are working on their reopening plans, staff at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska is working on a plan to survive the loss of roughly 70 percent of its annual budget, a loss tied to cruise ships not leaving port for the park’s waters this summer.
The financial hit is unique in the National Park System, where parks typically receive the bulk of their annual operating funds through Congressional appropriations. Glacier Bay, though, receives just 30 percent of its roughly $4 million annual budget from Congress. The rest comes from cruise ship fees.
“This year were not expecting any revenues, though there is a possibility that there may be some cruise ships in southeast Alaska. There are so many things that have to happen for that to occur,” Glacier Bay Superintendent Philip Hooge said last week during a call from his office. I personally dont have much belief that we will see a single cruise ship. I know communities here remain hopeful. Right now, theres nothing.”
The global spread of the coronavirus has been a crippling blow to all facets of the tourism industry. Many cruise ship lines have curtailed large segments of their normal sailings. The Princess line announced three weeks ago that it was canceling all Princess Alaska Gulf cruise and cruisetours for this summer.
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Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier Vs Glacier Bay
Endicott Arm Fjord, Alaska
Sailing through the 30-mile long Endicott Arm Fjord, travelers will witness a frozen wonderland full of granite cliffs, verdant valleys, and several gushing waterfalls. Sitting at the southern edge of Fords Terror Wilderness area, a trip through Endicott Arm Fjord offers plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife in action, with bald eagles, harbor seals, moose, and bears regularly seen throughout the journey.
Dawes Glacier, Alaska
Once you reach the end of Endicott Arm Fjord, youll come face to face with Dawes Glacier, a 600-foot-tall and mile-wide active icecap that produces daily displays of calving, giving visitors the opportunity to hear the white thunder sound that is produced when a large chunk of ice splashes into the water.
If you choose to book a flightseeing excursion to Glacier Bay, youll be able to see up to eight glaciers from above, including Margerie and John Hopkins Glacier, all in the same day.
Glacier Bay, Alaska
Therefore, if youre considering a cruise to Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier versus taking an excursion to Glacier Bay, know that both destinations are one of a kind. If you visit Glacier Bay on a flightseeing excursion, youll get to see a bit of everythingwildlife, icebergs, multiple glaciers, and the beauty of the Alaskan landscapeall in one place.
What You Can Do & See In Glacier Bay
Glacier Bay thrills those lucky enough to visit it with its abundance of animal life. Humpback whales, minke and killer whales, Dall’s porpoises, Steller sea lions and thousands of harbor seals can be seen in these waters during the summer months. On land, bears, wolves and coyotes search for their next seafood meal along the beaches. There are dozens of other species hidden in the dense foliage such as minks, martens and weasels, and though they’re rarely spotted, they are key to the area’s ecological balance.
This is a birder’s paradise. Thousands of seabirds nest on cliffs and rocky shores within the bay or on the park’s outer coast. Molting and migrating geese and sea ducks find refuge in quiet arms of the bay. Bald eagles nest in tall cottonwood trees or on cliffs along much of the park’s shoreline. Newly vegetated hillsides support great numbers of nesting songbirds, including many neotropical migrants. The shallow waters and sloping beaches of the Beardslee Islands are important foraging and breeding areas for shorebirds, seabirds and waterfowl. Arctic terns and jaegers prefer the barren glacial outwashes near the glaciers for nest sites.
The sheltered waters of Glacier Bay ebb and flow with the regions huge tides, which can change as much as 25 feet during a six-hour period.
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Luxury At Budget Prices
If you cant afford a luxury cruise line such as Seabourn, Viking, or Regent, Holland America is a good option at a more reasonable price. Youll find many of the amenities found on higher-end cruise lines at a much lower cost. Indulgent touches include luxurious beds and linens, Egyptian cotton towels, and the comfy bathrobes seen in upscale hotels. The impeccable service is due to almost one crew member for every two guests. Complimentary room service is available for even the lowest cabin category. Food and wine aboard Holland America ships can compete with the top luxury cruise lines. .