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TwoMateys

Are all Glacier visits only cruising days?

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I have just started researching itineraries for an Alaska cruise but I want to understand when I see Glacier Bay or Hubbard Glacier listed as "cruising" day; are all glacier visits on all cruise ships done as cruising by, or are there actually certain cruises that make stops at these destinations?   Thank you.

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All the ones we have been on the glacier day is a cruising day. However, some offer a private tour of Tracy Arm which takes you in a much smaller boat to get much closer to the glacier. Some lines do the excursion right from the ship and others you go from Juneau. We did it from Juneau and it was amazing but a full day. 


Karen

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Seabourn offers kayak, zodiak & catamaran excursions off the ship in Tracy Arm (and other places - Seabourn didn't have a Glacier Bay permit this year - but it was offered in a couple of places on our Alaska cruise and on other Seabourn itineraries). But you don't dock anywhere, no private excursions or anything - just what the ship offers.

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On the large ships (including all the mainstream lines) these are cruising days. Our Crystal Serenity cruise in August 2017 visited both Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay.

 

There is some difference between Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay. Hubbard Glacier is one, very large, glacier so the ship generally spends a couple of hours there hanging out so that there is a chance to watch for calving and rotating so all sides of the ship get to see it. Glacier Bay, the ship is going into a large bay where there are opportunities to spot wildlife on the way in and the way out (August 2017 that included sea otters, bears and Dahl's sheep) then dwelling and rotating at multiple glaciers. There will be park rangers on board using the PA to give commentary.  Since the Hubbard Glacier visit is a small part of the day, much of the ship's program that day was the same as a sea day. For the day in Glacier Bay, the day was mostly about Glacier Bay. They set up a soup and sandwich lunch buffet in Palm Court (the main viewing lounge) to enable staying in the lounge to watch the view over lunch. IIRC, they also had tea, coffee and snacks there in the morning. In the afternoon, they came around with hot cocoa. There was a presentation by the rangers toward the end of the day.

 

I read on this forum that in 2018, there is a small boat trip available from some lines at Hubbard Glacier (you board the boat from the ship similar to what some ships do in Tracy Arm).

 

Small ship lines have additional options during glacier days. Windstar had Alaska itineraries very similar to Seabourn's in 2018. There were kayak and zodiac excursions off the ship in Kenai Fjords, Endicott or Tracy Arm and Misty Fjords. I went on kayak excursions in all three last May which was a great experience. We got about as close to the glaciers in Kenai Fjords and Endicott Arm as one safely can. UnCruise and Alaska Dream have the option of landing via zodiac for a hike as well as doing kayak and zodiac excursions. There is even an itinerary that overnights in Glacier Bay. I considered taking one of their cruises, but even with a no solo-supplement special, it was a lot more $$$ than what I paid with the solo supplement on Windstar.  

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I have a friend on American Cruise Line and they spent the night at Glacier Bay. They went to the National Park offices on land also there.

 

Some posts have showed people kayaking at Glacier Bay on Uncruise.

 

Though you are going to pay $$$$ for this experience.

 

 

Edited by Coral

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If you want to have your feet on the ground and walk up to or near a glacier two things immediately come to mind.  

 

1)  Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau - you can book a tour on the ship or in port.  Lots of trails and you can get pretty close. We did this August 2017 as part of a combo with a whale watch.  Downside is we didn't get enough time  and would have like to spend more time on the trails.  Juneau was our first stop so Mendenhall was our first taste of ice until we got to Glacier Bay.

 

2) Exit Glacier in Seward - Of course that requires booking a cruise that starts or ends in Seward.  There are tours that are run to the glacier.  You could also look at doing the hike up to along the Harding Ice Field Trail.  That is what I am trying to figure out how to incorporate in to our plans for next year.

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