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Which Cruises Go To Glacier Bay

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Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier Vs Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska) Cruise Port Guide: Tips and Overview

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.

Where Do Glacier Bay National Park Cruises Depart From

Your Alaska small ship cruise to Glacier Bay National Park will usually depart from the state capital of Juneau, Sitka, or Ketchikan. Juneau has no road access visitors typically arrive by sea or fly into International Airport . Sitka, the former state capital, is best reached by flying into Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport , and you can also fly into Ketchikan International Airport , from where you need to take a short boat ride to reach the cruise departure point. Flights to each Alaskan airport are available from a selection of US airports.

Some Glacier Bay National Park cruise itineraries can also depart from Seattle, in the mainland US state of Washington.

Our reservations team is available to help arrange your next Alaska adventure cruise to Glacier Bay National Park. Contact us today.

Cruises From Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay, situated in the SE Alaska panhandle, USA, opens 90km west of Juneau. The Bay is 100 km long, with branches and 1000m mountains on each side, and at its headwaters is Mt Quincy Adams on the Canadian border. The Bay was originally a large single glacier of solid ice until early in the 18th century. Since it started retreating, it has left about 50 glaciers in its trail and become the largest protected water area park in the world. Read more

While its many branches, inlets, lagoons, islands, and channels provide prospects for scientific exploration, it is primarily an amazing visual spectacle.

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Option : On A Cruise Ship

Almost every Alaska cruise on ships big or small that passes Glacier Bay will make a trip up the Bay to see the glaciers. This usually takes a full day, so its often obvious on your itinerary if your ship will spend one day in Glacier Bay.

In terms of where youll go in Glacier Bay National Park on a cruise ship, that depends. Specifically, it depends on the size of your ship and the permissions they have about where they can go. It also depends on the glaciers themselves cruise ships typically go to two tidewater glaciers, Margerie and Grand Pacific glacier, but may also go up Johns Hopkins Inlet for a view of John Hopkins Glacier. For the 9-10 hours most ships spend in the park, most spend at least one hour at a glacier.

Its important to note that mega cruise ships do not dock anywhere in Glacier Bay you wont be able to visit the Visitor Center or go hiking in Glacier Bay as part of a cruise. Instead, a Park Ranger will board the ship to be a guide for the day.

On my Alaskan Dream Cruises trip in September 2021, we actually spent almost two days in Glacier Bay, including time at Johns Hopkins Glacier, an overnight in Geikie Inlet , and a half-day on land at Bartlett Cove. For this reason and many others, I think small ship cruises are a superior way to cruise in Alaska.

Adventure Cruises In Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier bay

Glacier Bay National Park Cruises are a great way to explore the beauty of Alaskas UNESCO-listed Glacier Bay National Park. Located in the southeastern part of the state, the 65-mile stretch of national park can be found within a coastal route called the Inner Passage.

Adventure cruises to Glacier Bay National Park let you observe the local wildlife and landscapes at close range as well as joining in with a host of thrilling activities. Fuel your spirit of adventure with kayaking or paddling a skiff in the icy waters and hiking through the remote wilderness. Relax in an outdoor hot tub after an exciting day, or perhaps even sample a mud bath.

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What To See And Do

As the name suggests, Glacier Bay is a park that is all about glaciers. Its home to more than 1,000 of them, and seeing a glacier up close is the big draw for most visitors to the park.

Specifically, most visitors come to view one of the parks nine giant tidewater glaciers, which flow down from the mountains to the water. For those visiting Glacier Bay by cruise ship, the experience will revolve heavily around a stop at one of these glaciers to watch giant chunks of ice crash down from its face a magnificent show.

Cruise ships arrive in the park for the better part of a day, and the experience goes beyond just a stop at one of the parks glaciers. Sightings of puffins, harbor seals, Steller sea lions and even the occasional humpback whale or brown bear are part of the allure all while traveling by water through an immense, glacier-carved landscape.

If you come on a big cruise ship, youll be doing your Glacier Bay viewing from the deck of your vessel. Big cruise ships in Glacier Bay never dock, and nobody gets off them. Still, youll get the full National Park Service experience. Park rangers and often a local Huna Tlingit cultural guide will board the vessel for the day to offer presentations and shipwide commentary over loudspeakers, lead kiddie activities and answer questions.

Some small cruise vessels that spend the night in Glacier Bay do allow passengers to disembark.

Endicott Arm And Dawes Glacier

Tracy Arm branches to the north from Holkham Bay Endicott Arm is the more southerly branch. Some cruises schedule scenic cruising in Endicott Arm to its Dawes Glacier, but others use it as a backup option if Tracy Arm is too icy for ships.

Endicott is straighter than the twisting Tracy Arm, but otherwise offers similar views of waterfalls, wildlife, and glaciers. Cruise ships can get somewhat closer to the Dawes Glacier in Endicott Arm than they can to the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm.

Dont be disappointed if your cruise ship reroutes to Endicott Arm. You will still have an amazing day of scenic cruising with plenty of beautiful natural sights to view and photograph.

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Hubbard Glacier Vs Glacier Bay

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Hubbard Glacier is the longest tidewater glacier in North America. Roughly 76 miles long and as tall as a 30-story building, Hubbard Glacier is as large as the state of Rhode Island and is the biggest glacier you can see from a cruise ship.

Hubbard Glacier also has the distinction of being one of the most active glaciers in Alaska. Known as the Galloping Glacier, Hubbard is quickly advancing towards the Gulf of Alaska at a rate of about 80 feet per year.

Calving of Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Its fast movement leads to large sections of ice breaking off and falling into the sea occurring about every fifteen minutes or so. If you cruise to Hubbard Glacier, you can rest assured youll witness the spectacular scene of a multi-story chunk of ice falling into the ocean during your vacation.

The journey to Hubbard Glacier is also a unique trip on its own, since sailing through Disenchantment Bay towards the glacier includes views of five of the ten tallest mountain peaks in North America. These are magnificent backdrops you wont be able to see anywhere else.

Humpback whale in Alaska

In Glacier Bay National Park, you can spot marine wildlife, floating icebergs, and eight large glaciers. However, since more than 60 miles of ice have already melted in Glacier Bay, most of the glaciers there are considered hanging glaciers, which means they have receded back into the mountains and there is now a much smaller chance of them calving.

Icy Strait Point, Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park Ak Usa Cruises

Alaska Cruise-Glacier Bay Experience

Glacier Bay National Park Port Guide.

Spanning 3.3 million acres, as part of a 25-million-acre World Heritage Site, a Glacier Bay National Park cruise reveals some of the planets most remarkable tidewater glaciers.

Top landmarks and sights in Glacier Bay National Park .

Theres so much to take in on a Glacier Bay National Park cruise, its hard to know where to begin. Towering mountains, gargantuan icebergs and majestic glaciers stretch as far as the eye can see, disappearing onto the horizon in every direction. Its a thrilling sight to experience from the deck of a cruise ship, or snuggled under a blanket in the warmth of your stateroom balcony, as you silently watch the world go by.

The park is home to over 1,000 glaciers, the majority of which nestle in the surrounding mountains, connecting land to sky like natures skyscrapers. Soaring to 15,000 feet, Glacier Bays ranges are the highest coastal peaks in all the world their abundant snowfall offering the perfect breeding ground for glaciers to take shape.

One of the highlights of visiting Glacier Bay National Park is watching the prolific calving of these shimmering ice giants. Towering hundreds of feet above the water, as well as stretching a hundred feet below, huge jagged pinnacles routinely break off in thunderous explosions, resulting in flotillas of icebergs. Its an awe-inspiring spectacle.

Things to do in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Glacier Bay National Park culture and history.

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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.

The Best Way To See Glacier Bay In Alaska

You don’t have to travel far to experience awe-inspiring natural beauty. Dynamic glaciers, rugged mountains, and temperate rainforests are just a few of the natural wonders that you can see on an Alaskan cruise to Glacier Bay.

Glacier Bay National Park is a 3.3-million-acre park that offers cruisers limitless possibilities for inspiration and adventure. Most notably, the park is one of the few places in the world where it is relatively easy to access glaciers. As part of a 25-million-acre World Heritage Site, Glacier Bay National Park is one of the world’s largest protected areas.

Not only does Glacier Bay provide cruisers with a look at some of the most amazing scenery in the world, but it also offers a diverse array of activities for anyone to enjoy. Explore the remote forests or marvel at the snow-capped mountaintops. Boat into the inlets and hidden coves and discover some of the most amazing Alaskan marine life, including sea lions, harbor seals, and sea otters. You might even have the unforgettable experience of seeing a humpback whale.

The best way to see Glacier Bay in Alaska is on a cruise with Norwegian. Although planes do fly into nearby city Gustavus, ground transportation is limited. Also, since a good portion of the park consists of waterways, you’ll have more opportunity to see wildlife on a cruise. Plus, you can breathe in the fresh, crisp Alaskan air as you sail along.

Here are some of the best Norwegian cruises that include Glacier Bay on the itinerary:

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Independent Cruises From Juneau

Bookings through All Alaska Tours include an early morning flight from Juneau to Gustavus, an eight-hour catamaran cruise and an evening return to the capital. Enjoy lunch while a park ranger provides narration. Catamarans operate June 1st through early September. Refunds are issued in the event of grounded flights due to inclement weather. As of spring 2011, adult pricing for one-day tours was $526.00.

Visitors to the park’s Glacier Bay Lodge can board the Baranof Wind, departing at 7:30 a.m. daily in the summer. A park ranger is aboard for the full eight-hour tour, which includes lunch, beverages and a souvenir. Reservations are recommended children 3 to 12 years old receive a discounted rate.

What You Can Do & See In Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay NP

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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Cruise Ships That Can Go To Glacier Bay National Park

I am planning a trip for summer 2020. On recommendations of others on this forum, I want to go through Glacier Bay. Cruise lines are apparently awarded 10 year contracts to do this, and Holland America and Princess Lines currently have this right.

According to what I have read they have the contracts through 2019. Is that true? How do I find out for sure?

Thanks in advance for any help here!

The 2019 cruise season is over. Do you mean 2020?

The lines do not get a contract, they get approval to apply for a permit, only two of which are issued for each day. HAL and Princess have permits for all 7 day cruises from Vancouver and Seattle. The HAL 14 day cruise and Princess cruises from LA does not cruise GBNP, and the Princess cruise from SF mostly doesn’t either.

NCL have some permits which they use for their one-way northbound cruise, and some of their 11 day Seattle cruises. In the periods early in the season and again toward the end of the season, some permits leak to other lines

Each line has their itineraries posted for 2020 and 2021, as well as them showing on Vacations to go and other booking sites.

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.

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