Tracy Arm Fjord

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#1
Dayton, Ohio
290 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
My head is spinning and my husband is having a heart attack at the cost of cruising Alaska. We cruise a lot but usually to the Caribbean (which you can do for half of a cruise to Alaska). I desperately want to see Alaska - it is on my bucket list and we ARE going next year. I have read numerous times that getting into Tracy Arm Fjord is really iffy so my question (well really only one of a hundred but I'll address those later) does the cruise ship do something different if they can get into Tracy Arm?
#2
Columbia, MD USA
2,594 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Last year on HAL we got into Tracy Arm but nowhere near the glacier. Not sure why because we saw a Celebrity ship coming out. The people who bought the Tracy Arm shore excursion got off and we wandered for awhile getting close up views of a couple of waterfalls. Then we went onto Juneau.
#3
24,347 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Endicott Arm is a possible itinerary change. Or going part way and turning around.

If this is your only trip to Alaska, I would pick an itinerary with Glacier Bay and/or Hubbard Glacier. Hubbard Glacier was iffy this year many weeks and I missed it on my first cruise. Glacier Bay is almost a sure thing!
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#4
California
4,849 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
In addition to the ice, ships are unable to navigate the Arm in the dark. Accordingly, the ship will turn around and bail if the Captain feels they may not clear the Arm by dusk. This could be due to running late, other ship's traffic in the Arm, or ghosts!

For what it's worth, given the proper conditions, the ship will get quite close to the Sawyer Glacier. Although the composition is crap, I like this photo because it kinda shows some perspective of the ship in relation to the glacier. The shot is taken from a position all the way aft in the center of the ship looking toward the port side. The ship has completed 90 of its 180 degree turn to head back out.



They get pretty close.

Here you can see the HAL Osterdam as she heads back out of the Arm amidst the ice.



We were here in September of 2012 - relatively late in the season, and probably one of the best times to avoid the ice and get close to Sawyer, although many ships enjoy dramatic views of Sawyer throughout the season.

Edit to add: I apologize, I screwed up the ratio of the photos when slimming them down for the web.
#5
Syracuse, New York
49,529 Posts
Joined May 2000
It is all about time. Nothing else. Dusk times are known, by the cpt, they know what their turn around time is going to be WAY before they get there. In September with the significant loss of daylight, the time can be shorter there compared to "in season". There also are ships that transit Tracy Arm in the morning, with NO greater success at the full transit. On average 25% of the cruise ships make the full 30 mile one way transit. The add on boat tours have probably at least 75% success, getting within the glacier ice field and even higher percentage getting within view. Keep in mind, IF sailing HAL, your ONLY way into Tracy Arm is by purchasing the add on ship shore excursion. Factor that into the budget and overall cruise price.

At the last minute however, you can be notified the ship is detouring to Endicott Arm, I've seen this more common in May.
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#6
1,887 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by Budget Queen
IF sailing HAL, your ONLY way into Tracy Arm is by purchasing the add on ship shore excursion.
I'm confused. I was under the impression that on my HAL cruise, we'd actually be cruising Tracy Arm. In fact, I thought that purchasing the excursion would not even be an option. I would love to purchase the excursion, if possible. The itinerary indicates Scenic Cruising Tracy Arm. The superscript is CO, which means Cruising Only. The time is 3:00-8:00 p.m.
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#7
Downey, CA
4,767 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Originally posted by Budget Queen
It is all about time. Nothing else. Dusk times are known, by the cpt, they know what their turn around time is going to be WAY before they get there. In September with the significant loss of daylight, the time can be shorter there compared to "in season". There also are ships that transit Tracy Arm in the morning, with NO greater success at the full transit. On average 25% of the cruise ships make the full 30 mile one way transit. The add on boat tours have probably at least 75% success, getting within the glacier ice field and even higher percentage getting within view. Keep in mind, IF sailing HAL, your ONLY way into Tracy Arm is by purchasing the add on ship shore excursion. Factor that into the budget and overall cruise price.

At the last minute however, you can be notified the ship is detouring to Endicott Arm, I've seen this more common in May.
Hello BQ, another question for you. I Will be cruising on the Rhapsody of the Sea in Tracy Arm Fjord June 3, 2014 with no option of an add on ship excursion. Time is 7am - 12 noon. Is Endicott Arm the only other option if the ship is unable to get to the glacier ice field? What is your perceptive of Endicott Arm?

Thank you, Roberta
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#8
Sonoma, CA
6,657 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
We've been in Tracy Arm 4 times on large cruise ships and have NEVER been near the glaciers. We always turned around mid-way. This was several times in September, once in May and once mid-summer.
#9
9,612 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Originally posted by allisons
I'm confused. I was under the impression that on my HAL cruise, we'd actually be cruising Tracy Arm. In fact, I thought that purchasing the excursion would not even be an option. I would love to purchase the excursion, if possible. The itinerary indicates Scenic Cruising Tracy Arm. The superscript is CO, which means Cruising Only. The time is 3:00-8:00 p.m.
Sounds like your HAL cruise is sailing into the fjord. Are you on the 14 day itinerary next year? I know in 2011 we sailed into the fjord and did not have the option of the add on tour so often mentioned here.
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#10
California
2,122 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by Budget Queen
It is all about time. Nothing else. Dusk times are known, by the cpt, they know what their turn around time is going to be WAY before they get there. In September with the significant loss of daylight, the time can be shorter there compared to "in season". There also are ships that transit Tracy Arm in the morning, with NO greater success at the full transit. On average 25% of the cruise ships make the full 30 mile one way transit. The add on boat tours have probably at least 75% success, getting within the glacier ice field and even higher percentage getting within view. Keep in mind, IF sailing HAL, your ONLY way into Tracy Arm is by purchasing the add on ship shore excursion. Factor that into the budget and overall cruise price.

At the last minute however, you can be notified the ship is detouring to Endicott Arm, I've seen this more common in May.
HAL Oosterdam sails into Tracy Arm.
#11
1,887 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by vbmom87
Sounds like your HAL cruise is sailing into the fjord. Are you on the 14 day itinerary next year? I know in 2011 we sailed into the fjord and did not have the option of the add on tour so often mentioned here.
We're on a 7-day itinerary next year. Perhaps we'll additionally do the excursion out of Juneau.
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#12
California
2,122 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by allisons
We're on a 7-day itinerary next year. Perhaps we'll additionally do the excursion out of Juneau.
Have a backup plan. We were booked on it last year. When we went to meet up with the tour, we were told it was cancelled due to weather. I guess that's pretty common.
#13
1,887 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by NoobCruise
HAL Oosterdam sails into Tracy Arm.
And next year, the HAL Amsterdam is sailing into Tracy Arm.
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#14
1,887 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by NoobCruise
Have a backup plan. We were booked on it last year. When we went to meet up with the tour, we were told it was cancelled due to weather. I guess that's pretty common.
Hmm . . . Maybe we'll just plan something else.
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#15
California
2,122 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by allisons
Hmm . . . Maybe we'll just plan something else.
It would not stop me from trying to do the excursion again. It sounds like an amazing excursion when they do go. My point is just to do a little research so you know what you would like to do as an alternative in case it is cancelled. We knew exactly what we wanted to do instead, so We jumped on our backup plan and were on a different tour literally within 5 minutes while many others were standing around scratching their heads, confused and wondering "Well, what do we do now?"

Many of the flightseeing tours like Taku Lodge were also cancelled.

Just have a backup plan and you won't end up disappointed in the port. We had an amazing day in Juneau despite having the tour I had most been looking forward to being cancelled, but I still plan to try getting in to Tracy Arm sometime in the future.
#16
1,887 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by NoobCruise
It would not stop me from trying to do the excursion again. It sounds like an amazing excursion when they do go. My point is just to do a little research so you know what you would like to do as an alternative in case it is cancelled. We knew exactly what we wanted to do instead, so We jumped on our backup plan and were on a different tour literally within 5 minutes while many others were standing around scratching their heads, confused and wondering "Well, what do we do now?"

Many of the flightseeing tours like Taku Lodge were also cancelled.

Just have a backup plan and you won't end up disappointed in the port. We had an amazing day in Juneau despite having the tour I had most been looking forward to being cancelled, but I still plan to try getting in to Tracy Arm sometime in the future.
I just wonder if it's worth doing the excursion at all, since we're already cruising Tracy Arm on the ship.
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