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  #1  
Old September 23rd, 2006, 09:51 AM
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Default Glacier Bay vs Sawyer Glacier

If you were going, which itinerary would you prefer and why?
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  #2  
Old September 23rd, 2006, 09:55 AM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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Glacier Bay, definitely. We'll be there for the first time next June. The ships that go to Tracy Arm rarely get far enough in to see the Sawyer Glaciers because of ice, although I understand Tracy Arm Fjord is beautiful even without seeing the glaciers.
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  #3  
Old September 23rd, 2006, 09:59 AM
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Most of the large ships that go into Tracy Arm don't get within sight of the Sawyer Glaciers. Tracy Arm is extremely dramatic, but if you want to see glaciers, it's a great addition to Glacier Bay (or College Fjord or Hubbard Glacier), but not a replacement, for that reason.

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  #4  
Old September 23rd, 2006, 11:49 AM
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Helpful feedback. Thanks for the input.
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  #5  
Old September 23rd, 2006, 11:53 AM
NancyIL NancyIL is offline
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FYI - HAL's Zuiderdam and Zaandam will do roundtrips from Vancouver next year, and both go to Tracy Arm AND Glacier Bay.

**Just wondering...are you choosing between two NCL itineraries?

Last edited by NancyIL; September 23rd, 2006 at 11:59 AM.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 12:12 PM
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I'm waiting to get pricing on a group cruise on either the NCL Pearl (new) to Glacier Bay or NCL Star (less $) to Sawyer Glacier. My impression was that Glacier Bay would probably make a better first cruise to Alaska, but I wanted to get some feedback on itins so that the final decision isn't based solely on price. Either way, we're cruising Alaska next September.
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  #7  
Old September 24th, 2006, 08:23 PM
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Default NCL= No Naturalist!

Be aware NCL does not have naturalists onboard...unless something has changed. We sailed the Dream last year and we feel our cruise would have been enhanced with a naturalist. We did not know where we were [even with a map] and when to look for whales, wildlife etc. The cruise director READ a canned commentary when we were at Hubbard Glacier.

Seattle offers much more open ocean sailing since those trips usually sail outside of Vancouver Island. You will miss alot of scenery.

My pick would be Holland America RT Vancouver. You can still fly into Seattle [cheaper] and take Amtrak or the Quick Shuttle to Vancouver.

You will love Alaska! Have fun planning!
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  #8  
Old September 24th, 2006, 09:51 PM
kb996 kb996 is offline
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If you decide to take the cruise to Sawyer glacier check and see if your ship has an excursion where a smaller boat takes you to the glacier. We did this and it was GREAT. We got very close, while the ship didn't even get to seeing distance. We also saw whales on the way and the trip down Tracy Arm was amazing in the little boat. Later on we met up with our ship in the fjiord, tied up to her and got back on board.

We've been twice to Sawyer. Last year we stayed on the ship. We did see the glaciers from afar but it was a very different experience being on the hug ship then the little boat. The little boat makes you realize the vastness of it all.

I'm planning now to go on the NCL Pearl next year to experience Glacier Bay.

Which ever you choose I know you'll have a great time.
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  #9  
Old September 25th, 2006, 12:53 AM
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Default Glacier Bay

Was just on the NCL Star this week. Glacier Bay was outstanding. Got all the way up to John Hopkins's glacier. It calved so many time, they quit counting. A park ranger got onboard early and talk us through the park. Water was so calm. will be posting pictures later. Watch for my review for this board. Have posted a review in NCL's thread.
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  #10  
Old September 25th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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Another Glacier Bay vote. For clairfication, in Sept, you can sail up the John Hopkins, it is closed to ships May- August. I'm booked on the Pearl next year too. But the lack of a ship naturalist is a big overall negative with NCL. Superior for first timer's is definately HAL for a round trip.

I found I made a pretty good "ship information" person to people out on deck. My sightings locations were ALL proved out by the people out enjoying them, which was few.
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  #11  
Old September 25th, 2006, 02:53 PM
ChelseaM ChelseaM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katybird
Be aware NCL does not have naturalists onboard...unless something has changed. We sailed the Dream last year and we feel our cruise would have been enhanced with a naturalist. We did not know where we were [even with a map] and when to look for whales, wildlife etc. The cruise director READ a canned commentary when we were at Hubbard Glacier.
!
We had a naturalist on our 6/24-7/1 NCL Sun sailing. He gave helpful commentary the whole trip up the Tracy Arm. I didn't know that wasn't a usual thing on NCL ships.
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  #12  
Old September 26th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChelseaM
We had a naturalist on our 6/24-7/1 NCL Sun sailing. He gave helpful commentary the whole trip up the Tracy Arm. I didn't know that wasn't a usual thing on NCL ships.

I will speculate this was a "lecturer" and not a naturalist, which are different. NCL does have someone who does narrate Tracy Arm and they usually do basic programs during the week, but they do not have the extensive knowledge/background or education that HAL, Princess, etc ship naturalists have, which are way superior.
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Old September 28th, 2006, 11:43 AM
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On NCL Star - The park rangers did do a good job. I didn't see the information display they set up, i stay (mostly) on my balcony trying to get clear pictures without other people or blocked by glass. We had very clear weather for this day, my view from the balcony was great. but i did miss the calving at John Hopkins when the ship turned. On the tv they had one program that ran all day with information about the wildlife and how the glaciers were created. On another channel you could hear the Park Ranger, going over much the same thing. Up where the Park Rangers were, you could ask questions and look over their displays. Maybe not as good as a naturalist, but it was still very good and if you listened..you learned. We were lucky, it was the only day that sun came out...but as soon as we left the bay..we were in fog.
Our ship only turned a 180, it didn't turn back around to me. we had another ship moving in, as soon as we were pointed away from the glacier..we moved out of the other ships way.
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  #14  
Old September 29th, 2006, 10:36 AM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyz711
On NCL Star - The park rangers did do a good job. I didn't see the information display they set up, i stay (mostly) on my balcony trying to get clear pictures without other people or blocked by glass. We had very clear weather for this day, my view from the balcony was great. but i did miss the calving at John Hopkins when the ship turned. On the tv they had one program that ran all day with information about the wildlife and how the glaciers were created. On another channel you could hear the Park Ranger, going over much the same thing. Up where the Park Rangers were, you could ask questions and look over their displays. Maybe not as good as a naturalist, but it was still very good and if you listened..you learned. We were lucky, it was the only day that sun came out...but as soon as we left the bay..we were in fog.
Our ship only turned a 180, it didn't turn back around to me. we had another ship moving in, as soon as we were pointed away from the glacier..we moved out of the other ships way.

For clarification- all ships sailing Glacier Bay MUST be escorted in, by rangers. They do a wonderful job of narration. The biggest advantage of a ship naturalist, is the ongoing commentary they provide and information they have from the previous sailings. Significant for wildlife sightings having them on board full time.

I've sailed NCL several times to Alaska they have many good points and their freestyle can't be beat in my opinion. But the ship "lectures" I have on my sailings were very poor in my opinion. Essentially, did a generic "history" lesson and offered nothing unique to the sailing, one didn't even know areas we were sailing by, nor wildlife trends. I get right cozy with ship naturalists. They offer me so much more. I've now got 2 long time friends out of that deal that I value greatly.
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Old September 30th, 2006, 12:40 AM
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You bring up an excellent issue on naturalists, Budget Queen (I always like reading your posts). It really seems to vary from company to company, not only the quality but the committment to having naturalists at all.

As a long time (34 year) college geography teacher, I got into the naturalist business several years ago with the cruise lines. Some are extremely interested in providing on-going quality narration while others squeeze the naturalist presentations in between the bingo contests and the "shopping in Alaska" lectures.

If future cruisers want to guarantee a great naturalist experience, go with the smaller cruise lines whose ships sail through Alaska during daylight hours and go places where the megaships don't go. The big guys seem more interested in spending times in port for pricey excursions and shopping for "gen-u-ine" Alaskan mementos.

Last edited by Chenega; September 30th, 2006 at 12:42 AM.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 06:40 PM
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Default Glacier Bay VS Sawyer

Its a no brainer. Go with Glacier Bay. We have been to both and bye far Glacier Bay is more senic. We could not get close to Sawyer because of the ice, but it still was very pretty. Glacier Bay on the other hand was awesome. To hear the calving and see it happen before your eyes was somthing i will never forget. We hope this helps in you making your choice. Either way, you will have a great time! Happy cruising!
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  #17  
Old October 19th, 2010, 12:35 PM
Cherokee Indianspirit Cherokee Indianspirit is offline
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Default Sawyer Bay Glacier

So has ANYONE seen the glacier of Sawyer bay? Everyone is saying they don't far in enough to actually see so how can the cruise line say Sawyer bay on thier itinerary and we not get to it?
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Old October 19th, 2010, 01:44 PM
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The ships do occasionally make it all the way. I think I've seen a number like 25%? If I'm not mistaken, there are twin glaciers at Sawyer, and it is even more rare to be able to see both. But if you go on one of the small boat excursions, you will almost certainly see them.
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Old October 19th, 2010, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherokee Indianspirit View Post
So has ANYONE seen the glacier of Sawyer bay? Everyone is saying they don't far in enough to actually see so how can the cruise line say Sawyer bay on thier itinerary and we not get to it?
Yes I have seen the twin Sawyer Glaciers. I put together this photo sample of a single trip, comparing what was seen on the add on Tracy Arm tour, vs the ship transit. http://community.webshots.com/user/budgetqueen

The ship photo was the closest, it got to the south Sawyer Glacier, but they did SEE it.
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Last edited by Budget Queen; October 19th, 2010 at 04:22 PM.
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  #20  
Old October 19th, 2010, 06:07 PM
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Default another option

If you have a long day in port you can take a private excursion with Adventure Bound Alaska. We were scheduled to go with them but the boat had a problem and our trip was cancelled. I have read good reviews of their tour and if we have another opportunity we will try again.
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