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Is Glacier Bay a must do?

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I am planning an Alaska cruise for next July 2020 and it looks like Princess is the only one that goes to Glacier Bay. Is this a must do? Or are there similar ports that might be similar?

 

Definitely want to see the glaciers from the ship and not sure if that is the best.

 

Jenn

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Try typing "cruise lines allowed in glacier bay 2020" into Google.  You will get the following -

 

"A prospectus soliciting proposals for cruise ship services was issued in May 2018. A panel of technical experts reviewed each proposal package, and new ten-year concession contracts were awarded to seven businesses: Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, Holland America Line Inc., NCL (Bahamas) Ltd, Carnival plc (Cunard Line), Seabourn Cruise Line Limited, Viking Cruises Ltd and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The NPS anticipated the contracts will be effective October 1, 2019. "

 

Also, if you go to Glacier Bay on a cruise line, none of them stop there.  You can't go on shore.

 

DON

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Glacier Bay was the absolute highlight of our Alaska cruise. Stunning and majestic. Videos and photos couldn’t remotely do it justice.So glad that we selected a cruise that specifically visited  Glacier Bay. 

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"Must do" is strictly a personal and very subjective decision. However, you will find MANY here (including ourselves who put it high on the Alaska list. Some reading on the board would find many discussions in this vein.

 

Princess is definitely not the only cruise line that goes to Glacier Bay. Up until the end of this season, Holland America had as many permits as Princess. Not exactly sure how the new contracts disperse the permits.

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Several lines do Glacier Bay.

 

I do put it as a "Must" for a first cruise. Hubbard and Tracy Arm are often skipped due to conditions that prevent the ship from getting close. If you only have one glacier day, you can miss it (like I did on my first cruise). Try to book a cruise with 2 glacier days.

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Posted (edited)

You can also do flyovers from other ports. It's not a place that is easily "gone into" save by boat or air.

Edited by aurora_borealis

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To clarify, Glacier Bay isn't a port of call where you get off the ship, but is a full day of scenic cruising.

 

I have cruised Alaska once without Glacier Bay on the itinerary, and on that cruise due to poor weather we had to skip Hubbard Glacier, so wound up with no glaciers viewed from the ship. We did visit Mendenhall Glacier from Juneau, and we also saw glaciers on a small boat trip in the Kenai Fjords from Seward.

 

The second time we cruised we got amazing weather and had an itinerary that included Glacier Bay, and we reached Hubbard this time too. We also did Glacier Quest small boat trip (26 Glaciers is another option) from Whittier before the cruise.

 

The thing is you can be very very lucky or unlucky with weather, no matter which itinerary you choose. Poor weather might mean you have to miss the port/scenic viewing altogether, or you are there but can hardly see anything.

 

I am not sure I am making much sense. Glacier Bay is amazing but if you get unlucky with weather, you might wonder what the fuss was about. So the suggestion that you try to have 2 days of glacier viewing in your itinerary is a good one (ie, Glacier Bay plus Hubbard or College). However, there are other ways to see glaciers in Alaska (see my ideas above). Are there other criteria that you have in deciding which Alaskan cruise to do, other things that are important to you?

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9 hours ago, ~*Lou*~ said:

 

The thing is you can be very very lucky or unlucky with weather, no matter which itinerary you choose. Poor weather might mean you have to miss the port/scenic viewing altogether, or you are there but can hardly see anything.

 

I am not sure I am making much sense. Glacier Bay is amazing but if you get unlucky with weather, you might wonder what the fuss was about. So the suggestion that you try to have 2 days of glacier viewing in your itinerary is a good one (ie, Glacier Bay plus Hubbard or College). However, there are other ways to see glaciers in Alaska (see my ideas above). Are there other criteria that you have in deciding which Alaskan cruise to do, other things that are important to you?

Though, Glacier Bay is almost never cancelled and ships do seem to get close even when it is rainy. 

 

You did the same thing I did - after not getting to any glacier on the first cruise, I did several on my next trip! Most don't get a 2nd trip!

 

My first trip was a RT out of Vancouver so doing a glacier trip in Whittier or Seward was not an option. Many do RT out of Vancouver or Seattle. I now know that the one ways are far superior for glacier viewing.

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I do consider Glacier Bay a "must do" but it's not just the glaciers in Glacier Bay NP that are spectacular, the scenery is just as beautiful.  As Tapi mentioned, photos and videos can't do justice to how stunning the scenery really is.
Here's a picture of the Coral Princess as she heads toward Margerie Glacier.

 

image.thumb.jpeg.be1184cfd8868942b82052e1b7c72bf0.jpeg

 

We cruised the first week of June on the Holland Westerdam and there was still a lot of snow on the mountains.

 

image.thumb.jpeg.8698073d846162bafd467beae13080d5.jpeg

 

The scenery is absolutely breathtaking in Glacier Bay.

 

image.thumb.jpeg.5577c8ed3f02088064c2913060f54e00.jpeg

 

image.thumb.jpeg.0b88bda8a8118fbe12b66f65cc788a8d.jpeg

 

Oops, I almost forgot to include a picture of Margerie Glacier.

 

image.thumb.jpeg.0bd2f6335133a31a5fad6cd16ef78a83.jpeg

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We have our 4th Alaskan cruise booked for September of 2020.  It is called "The Great Glaciers Cruise".  Shows 3 full days described as glacier cruising, it's an 11 day cruise.  We can not wait to go back.

One day Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, one day Hubbard Glacier, one day Glacier Bay.

One of the three previous Alaskan cruises did not include Glacier Bay, we really missed that day.  To us, it's like the day you are in the canal on a Panama Canal cruise, so the highlight.  A day to be outside on deck or balcony as much as possible. 

We find Glacier Bay to be one of the two most serene places on earth. The other would be Geirangerfjord Norway, so quiet and breathtakingly beautiful.

So to sum up, IMO Glacier Bay is a must do!

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And, if your are lucky, you might see a little of this:

 

image.thumb.png.8a6e363e5bb18e7d688053450eeeb84f.png

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1 hour ago, Sea saw 56 said:

We find Glacier Bay to be one of the two most serene places on earth. The other would be Geirangerfjord Norway, so quiet and breathtakingly beautiful.

So to sum up, IMO Glacier Bay is a must do!

Geriangerfjord is so beautiful! So is Glacier Bay! I agree.

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Our Alaska cruise (our first) did not include Glacier Bay and I agonized over our decision.  The price, port times and everything else was perfect, so we booked it and I constantly second-guessed myself until the cruise.  We spent an extra day in Seward and did the 6 hour tour with Major Marine - and Aialik Glacier and the entire area were incredible, so I felt a bit better.  Our day at Hubbard Glacier was absolutely amazing - the captain was able to get within 4/10 of a mile and it was massive!! I understand that doesn't always happen, but it was one of the most spectacular sights I've ever seen!

 

So, we didn't get to Glacier Bay and had amazing glacier viewing without going there.  I'd still love to see it, but please know that you can have a great experience without it.  I beat myself up for months about missing Glacier Bay since everyone seems to say it's a "must-do".  Just a different opinion....

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Been to Alaska many times, with well over 20 visits to GB. While I have missed both Hubbard Glacier & Tracy Arm, I have never missed GB due to weather or ice conditions.

 

In addition to the scenery & glacier viewing, the talks from the Park Rangers compliment an excellent day.

 

Therefore, personally we consider GB as mandatory for any Alaska cruise.

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2 hours ago, Bearvet said:

Our Alaska cruise (our first) did not include Glacier Bay and I agonized over our decision.  The price, port times and everything else was perfect, so we booked it and I constantly second-guessed myself until the cruise.  We spent an extra day in Seward and did the 6 hour tour with Major Marine - and Aialik Glacier and the entire area were incredible, so I felt a bit better.  Our day at Hubbard Glacier was absolutely amazing - the captain was able to get within 4/10 of a mile and it was massive!! I understand that doesn't always happen, but it was one of the most spectacular sights I've ever seen!

 

So, we didn't get to Glacier Bay and had amazing glacier viewing without going there.  I'd still love to see it, but please know that you can have a great experience without it.  I beat myself up for months about missing Glacier Bay since everyone seems to say it's a "must-do".  Just a different opinion....

How would you have felt if you missed Hubbard? We missed it on my first cruise so there was no glacier viewing on that cruise.

 

Either have Hubbard as your 2nd glacier or save it for a 2nd cruise.

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Hubbard is nice if you can get to it. I have had 5 unsuccessful attempts and 1 successful attempt that wasn't that close. Not good odds.

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Thanks for the photos! My husband is sold on it : ) If we could see one calving like you showed he would be thrilled.

 

I'm going to now try to figure out how many days to spend in Anchorage and then Denali so I can book flights and cruise.

 

Jenn

 

 

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I'm in the camp that Glacier Bay is not a must. Our first two cruises to Alaska were round-trip ones from Seattle that went to Tracy Arm. It is a spectacular journey through the fjord even if you can't make it close to the glacier. We were fortunate to get fairly close on our first cruise but not as close on the second. The ship was still close enough to Sawyer Glacier to see some calving--but not the spectacular feeling of being close up to it.

 

This summer I took back-to-back cruises from Vancouver to Whittier and back. Both cruises went to Glacier Bay. On the northbound cruise, that day was followed by College Fjord. I did a small boat excursion from Whittier (26 glaciers). On the southbound cruise, the ship went to Hubbard Glacier then Glacier Bay. I had five days in a row of viewing glacier--and I never got tired of them. My favorite was the day in Prince William Sound on the small boat. If possible, you should book a small boat excursion.

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IMO, Glacier Bay is a must see. In addition to the impressive glaciers, you see quite a bit of wildlife. Beached seals, breaching whales, otters, and maybe even a bear on the shore. 

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On 8/24/2019 at 1:42 PM, Casey12 said:

Hubbard is nice if you can get to it. I have had 5 unsuccessful attempts and 1 successful attempt that wasn't that close. Not good odds.

 

I must be doing something wrong.  Been to Hubbard 3 times and made it 3 times including once on a really small boat where we got really close to the glacier.  In fact, when the glacier calved, we rocked.

 

DON

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I am a geography nerd and I wanted to see ALL the glaciers.  So on my first cruise, this June, I did Coral Princess - a day in Glacier Bay, an evening in College Fjord, and then the 26 Glaciers cruise on debarking day in Whittier.  IMO they were all completely worth it for different reasons and I was not at all bored spending 3 days pretty exclusively glacier- and wildlife watching. 

At 6am on Glacier Bay day I stepped on my balcony and saw a sea otter for the first time.  Can't beat that!!!

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On 8/29/2019 at 6:14 PM, diarm said:

IMO, Glacier Bay is a must see. In addition to the impressive glaciers, you see quite a bit of wildlife. Beached seals, breaching whales, otters, and maybe even a bear on the shore. 

 

I completely agree.  Be sure to bring binoculars for your Alaskan cruise.  I have a long zoom lens on my camera and the morning we entered Glacier Bay National Park I got these two pictures from our balcony.

 

image.thumb.png.6f7a318608d8cc15af601d6a4920f9a2.png

 

There were a lot of seals sleeping on the rocks.

image.thumb.jpeg.c10c19af9784ed0d6e9b856f70e28e66.jpeg

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We are doing an Alaska cruise May 2020 with Royal Caribbean on the Radiance of the Seas and our itinerary includes Glacier Bay! 

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Glacier Bay was nice, but we found College Fjord was great and in my opinion better. 

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53 minutes ago, chatdad said:

Glacier Bay was nice, but we found College Fjord was great and in my opinion better. 

College Fjords shines on a sunny day! It can be spectacular. On a foggy day - it is very disappointing.

 

 

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