Glacier Wonderland

After our train ride on the White Pass and Yukon railroad and our visit to the dogsled training camp, we overnighted in Skagway. We were looking forward to the four day cruise along the inside passage. Once on the boat we could unpack our luggage and settle in. For the last week it has been early rising, bags outside the door followed by long bus and train rides. Though fast paced, we really enjoyed our swing through Alaska and the Yukon Territory, but we were ready to relax.

We were to be transported to the boat at 10:30 on Tuesday morning, so we had time to explore the town of Skagway a bit. I grabbed my camera and went for a walk through the small town. By now there were already four cruise ships at dock and the streets were filling with tourists. Skagway is full of jewelry stores and souvenir shops, but it still retains its historic charm.

Downtown Skagway looking toward harbor

Statue commemorating prospectors on the Chilkoot Trail

We finally boarded the boat at about 11:00 am, happy to get unpacked. Although we could go ashore for a few hours, we decided to stay on the boat and relax. We shoved off at 6:30 pm for the 183 mile passage to Glacier Bay National Park.

Glacier National Park

The overnight cruise to Glacier Bay National Park was smooth, and we all slept well. After breakfast, guests began to congregate outside on the aft deck to take in the scenery. It was a beautifully clear morning with the sun shining brightly on the mountains around us.

We couldn’t help but comment on our luck with the weather this trip. Although we had brief periods of rain on a couple of days, most of the time the sun and warmth followed us wherever we went. We met people who made the same trip a week ago when it rained the entire time.

Glacier Bay National Park encompasses over 3 million acres on the coast of southeast Alaska. It contains over 1,000 glaciers including 7 tidewater glaciers. Interestingly, there are no roads leading into the park. The only way to get here is by boat or plane. About 80% of its 470,000 visitors each year arrive by cruise ships, of which only two are allowed in each day.

As we entered the bay leading into the park and were treated to fabulous views. The smooth water was a turquoise blue and on each side of the boat we were rugged mountains, snow patches covering their tops. As we plied our way up the passage, the bay narrowed until and glaciers surrounded us.

We saw only one other boat in Glacier Bay

Johns Hopkins Glacier

Margerie Glacier

We spent about 4 hours cruising up the inlet, stopping at glaciers along the way and at some we could observe calving of chunks of ice crashing into the blue waters below. We were followed by hundreds of sea birds, searching for food in the waters churned by our propellers, and we spotted sea otters floating on their backs as we passed them, seemingly amused by our presence.

Other than one other cruise ship which passed us at the entrance, we had this whole magical and wonderful place to ourselves on this beautiful clear day, this last day of spring 2019.

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