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Star Excursion Question - Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer


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The NCL shore excursion office is closed now but I'm too impatient to wait until tomorrow to ask this question - plus I like hearing from people's personal experience.

 

My husband and I are thinking of booking the following excursion - Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer. It's a 5-hour excursion that takes you on a catamaran close to the Sawyer Glacier and then later meets up with the Star. I just wonder about the timing. The excursion is scheduled to start at 1:15 PM. However, the Star is scheduled to leave the port at 1:30 PM. Does the cruise ship really stick around for that 5 hours so that the excursion can meet up with it? That seems like an awfully long time after the ship supposedly leaves.

 

Anyone have experience with this excursion or know if the ship is really still in the area for that long afterwards?

 

If you did the excursion, I'd love to hear about it!

 

Thanks in advance!

Melissa

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We did this excursion 4 years ago on the Sun, and highly recommend it. The catamaran excursion leaves Juneau shortly before the cruise ship (30 minutes to an hour) and heads to Tracy Arm. You get a much better view of the gorgeous Tracy Arm scenery from the catamaran, as you're closer to the water level, and then the catamaran meets back up with the ship at the "end" of Tracy Arm -- or at least as far as the cruise ship can go. If you've cruised before, think of it as returning from a tendering excursion. The catamaran pulls up right next to the ship and you reboard directly from the catamaran.

 

The main advantage is that you can get much closer to the Sawyer Glaciers at the end of Tracy Arm then you do from onboard the cruise ship. The Sawyer glaciers are in an active retreating period, which generates a lot of calving, and the resulting ice frequently makes getting to the glaciers impossible for the cruise ship. We were able to get quite close to both North and South Sawyer Glaciers, while the passengers who stayed on the cruise ship were iced out from seeing North Sawyer. In addition, when we were there, we were able to see literally hundreds of seals on the ice in front of South Sawyer. I doubt the passengers who stayed on the Sun even knew they were there.

 

The next time I do an NCL cruise that includes Tracy Arm on it's itinerary, I'll definitely plan on doing this excursion again.

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The NCL shore excursion office is closed now but I'm too impatient to wait until tomorrow to ask this question - plus I like hearing from people's personal experience.

 

My husband and I are thinking of booking the following excursion - Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer. It's a 5-hour excursion that takes you on a catamaran close to the Sawyer Glacier and then later meets up with the Star. I just wonder about the timing. The excursion is scheduled to start at 1:15 PM. However, the Star is scheduled to leave the port at 1:30 PM. Does the cruise ship really stick around for that 5 hours so that the excursion can meet up with it? That seems like an awfully long time after the ship supposedly leaves.

 

Anyone have experience with this excursion or know if the ship is really still in the area for that long afterwards?

 

If you did the excursion, I'd love to hear about it!

 

Thanks in advance!

Melissa

I believe that excursion was cancelled for our sailing on 5/3. Sounds really neat though.

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We are booked on this excursion in two weeks and from every thing we have read, a lot of people say it is the best excursion for Alaska. We SO can't wait....

 

Please post when you get back and let me know how you enjoyed this excursion! I really loved Tracy Arm, and am interested in hearing how other cruiser's enjoy it.

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The only other vessel we saw in Tracy Arm last week was a Coast Guard ship. We had a fabulous view of everything from our aft balcony. We really enjoyed having the wraparound balcony for this.

 

The captain said we didn't get quite as far in as the week before due to the ice. If the ice is too bad they go to Endicott Arm which he thinks is prettier. Maybe I need to go back.....

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We did the Tracy Arm Explorer a few years ago off the Sun. It was truly not only the highlight of that trip, but one of the really memorable moments in my travels ever. Being in a boat, amidst the pack ice, a quarter of a mile from the face of a calving glacier is an awesome (in the fullest meaning of that overused word) experience.

 

 

In addition the boat ride down to Tracy Arm can turn into a bit of a whale watching cruise too. We had a really good enthusiastic crew, including a naturalist, spotting them for us.

 

 

It's a pricey excursion, but it's well worth it in my opinion.

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Yes, yes, yes! That excursion is worth every penny it costs. Here's a link to some photos I took during ours, even getting back on the ship: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/552927210MONMMC?start=60. We weren't able to get all the way in, because we were on the first cruise of the season, and the ice was still too thick. I'm still so glad we did that excursion.

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Please forgive my ignorance, but since we are going in August, will there be a better chance of the ice melting and letting us in closer to glacier since summer will be almost over?

 

Hmmmm....

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Please forgive my ignorance, but since we are going in August, will there be a better chance of the ice melting and letting us in closer to glacier since summer will be almost over?

 

Hmmmm....

 

Not necessarily. The problem isn't only due to the ice in the fjord, but also to the length of daylight. The ships (especially the catamaran) can navigate through a certain amount of ice, but it slows down their progress through the fjord. They have to be out of the fjord by dusk, so they can only go far enough up the channel to know that they can be out by dusk -- if that makes sense. I'd always assumed that the glaciers would be calving MORE in hot weather as the outside temperature would increase the rate of calving, but that's only one of the factors involved. Someone over on the Alaska board posted a great explanation of why glaciers calve (which is what creates the ice in the fjord) but I haven't been able to find it again with the search feature not working properly.

 

When we went and were lucky enough to see both glaciers, it was in early June. Last summer, I think it was July before the cruise ships could get within viewing distance of the glaciers, and only a very small percentage of the NCL ships made it that close.

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Legalwife, check to see if that excursion is available for your sailing. I believe they pull it sometime in August (I don't know whether it's due to the number of daylight hours or whether the operator has another commitment).

...and when you "check" about availability, please call NCL, do not rely on their web site.

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I had friends who cruised last year in September, and they ended up being diverted to Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier. Hopefully if there is too much ice in Tracy Arm, they'll go that route again this summer.

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The only other vessel we saw in Tracy Arm last week was a Coast Guard ship. We had a fabulous view of everything from our aft balcony. We really enjoyed having the wraparound balcony for this.

 

The captain said we didn't get quite as far in as the week before due to the ice. If the ice is too bad they go to Endicott Arm which he thinks is prettier. Maybe I need to go back.....

Yeah! I am thinking we definately need to go back.

 

We, too, took in the Splendor of Tracy Arm from our balcony on the stern(Star 5/3)! Beautiful blue icebergs floating by...gorgous! We had a panaramic view....absolutely fabulous!

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:) Hi,

We just booked this excursion for the Star 8/9 sailing.

It shows up on the general tours but when you enter your sailing it doesn't, because you leave before the ship does.

I spoke to Steve Ext. 7372 at 1-866-625-1167, he is very nice and will take good care of you.

Enjoy

synet165

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We noticed the icebergs that had floated out of Tracy Arm into the main cruise channel on the way to Juneau last year. We probably wouldn't have noticed if we hadn't been to Tracy Arm, but I was kind of looking to see if I could spot the entrance. The icebergs (which were only located there) were a pretty good indication that was where we were at.

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Yes, yes, yes! That excursion is worth every penny it costs. Here's a link to some photos I took during ours, even getting back on the ship: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/552927210MONMMC?start=60. We weren't able to get all the way in, because we were on the first cruise of the season, and the ice was still too thick. I'm still so glad we did that excursion.

Thank you for sharing those fabulous pix....that excusion will be a "must" for us the next cruise! ;)

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