Day 5 - 08/14/2019; Scenic cruising Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. In order to get to the park, Nieuw A, after departing Skagway yesterday evening, had to sail down the Lynn Canal again, passing the community of Haines on our starboard side. Capt. Carsjens (originally scheduled to leave us in Skagway, now staying until Ketchikan) then executed a hook shank to starboard and rounded Point Couverden, turning into Icy Strait (thus named when the entire Glacier Bay was a glacier with its calving ice drifting via this “icy strait” into the open sea)
From here, it was a straight shot on a north-westerly course, passing Pleasant Island on our starboard side, to Point Gustavus where, off Bartlett Cove, we had a 0700 hrs. appointment to pick up two National Park Service Rangers, as well as a cultural (Hoonah Tribal) interpreter. One park ranger goes to the bridge and act as "play-by-play commentator via the ship;s p/a system, and the second ranger plus the cultural interpreter go to the Crow's Nest where they set up shop with interactive material and other goodies) Ruby Princess was ahead of us and, after having picked up her ranger party, moved into Glacier Bay proper first.
The National Park regulations allow for two large cruise ships in the Bay and they are required to have park rangers on board. They are on board both for the education of the guests, as well for ensuring that the ships keep to the rules of the road and do not go sightseeing where it is not allowed.
We proceeded northbound into the Bay, passing Strawberry Island, Willoughby Island, Francis Island and Drake Island and the schedule had us passing Queen Inlet by 0745 hrs. Next up was our first look at Lamplugh Glacier at 0915 hrs. Lamplugh is eight miles long and is named for English geologist George William Lamplugh who visited Glacier Bay in 1884. Thirty minutes later, we were at Johns Hopkins inlet which we would by-pass on our way to Tarr Inlet and Margerie Glacier, arriving there around 1100 hrs.
The way it works under park rules and regulations, the S/E Alaska pilot (remember, still onboard since Kake, before Juneau, and until Ketchikan) brings the ship close-in to the glacier and, once in position and stopped, the ship’s captain then takes over to conduct his “balcony maneuver;” basically a full swing ensuring that both port and starboard balconies get the same amount of time facing the glacier.
After spending about 40 minutes in front of Margerie, Nieuw A backtracked her course back into Glacier Bay and to Bartlett Cove where the rangers and Alaskan native were picked up by the National Parks boat and taken back to Park HQ. Capt. Carsjens then set a course for Ketchikan via Icy Strait, Chatham Strait, Sumner Strait, Clarence Strait and Tongass Narrows.
Tonight was the second of the two gala nights onboard Nieuw A. It was also the first performance by the five-person cast of the Step One Dance Company (what would have been their first performance on Sunday evening had to be cancelled when one of their male dancers took ill) called “Humanity.” We have seen Humanity before, as recent as last March on Koningsdam, and both feel it’s a good one. Tonight was no exception, especially since the normal six-person company was performing one person short. Outstanding dancing with high energy and real talent. The music, although piped-in, was good also! Great show! Here’s hoping Mr. Bill Prince does not say goodbye to the Step One dance company on this and the other dam ships, as he has done with the larger production casts of RWS & Associates and Belinda King Creative Productions just about at that time when the production shows were showing marked improvement!
As usual, we finished up the night with the BB King All-Star band in the Queens Lounge. Pic is a look at Ruby Princess in front of Margerie Glacier while we awaited our turn