Written by Drever on 14 Jul, 2005
The Coral Princess entered Glacier Bay in early morning on June 2 on its cruise to the rivers of ice 50 miles away. By noon, the temperature was 52°F and the day was clear and bright. Two Park Service rangers and a state guide boarded…Read More
The Coral Princess entered Glacier Bay in early morning on June 2 on its cruise to the rivers of ice 50 miles away. By noon, the temperature was 52°F and the day was clear and bright. Two Park Service rangers and a state guide boarded the ship at Bartlett Cove and gave detailed commentary.
When Vancouver passed this way in 1794, Glacier Bay didn’t exist. A solid wall of ice fronted the entrance. When C.S. Wood visited in 1877, the ice had receded 40 miles due to seismic action splitting the ice. It has left a bay with spectacular scenery and wildlife. We saw whales, sea otters, harbour seals, and bald eagles.
The captain sailed the ship within close viewing distance of Majorie Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier. Majorie Glacier shone a brilliant white with blue hues, while Pacific Glacier appears black from debris accumulated over thousands of years. Majorie Glacier calved as we watched - the ice descended with a roar to the sea to create waves. Fascinated, I listened to the loud cracking or popping sounds echoed around us as compressed air escaped from the glacial ice. Deep crevasses descend to a depth of often around 100 feet - below this depth, the pressures in the ice force closure.
As we sailed out of the bay, the rangers left by leaping nimbly into a motorboat that had momentary drawn alongside the Coral Princess at Cape Spencer.
We arrived at College Fjord around noon the next day, another brilliant day. The naturalist onboard gave a running commentary over the ship's PA system of what we were seeing. She pointed out otters swimming on their backs alongside the ship. We saw a breaching whale right off the bow. Orca whales appeared close to the shore – if you go on this cruise, bring binoculars to see the further off sightings on sea and land. At one point, a bald eagle flew majestically over the bow of the ship to the cheers of passengers.
Here was the surprise. College Fjord is even more impressive than Glacier Bay. College Fjord has seven glaciers along the arm the ship cruises. They are named after famous universities in the States. We closed the shore and approached Wellesley Glacier. Growing close to the ice are 100-foot spruce trees. To see a glacier soar above these trees is impressive – the front of the glacier must tower 300 feet above the sea.
These glaciers are much more active than the glaciers in Glacier Bay - icebergs floated all around us. The captain turned the ship around opposite Harvard Glacier to give everyone an opportunity to see the glacier. Big chunks periodically fell off with a sound like thunder as they hurtled towards the sea.
After about 3 hours in the fjord, the ship was on its way out again. This fjord is awesome and was one of the highlights of the trip.
Written by samepenny on 21 Oct, 2000
The small ships have several advantages, not the least of which is that they are American owned! You really get to see Alaska! Well worth saving up for. See what they offer. The glaciers in Glacier Bay have been in rapid…Read More
The small ships have several advantages, not the least of which is that they are American owned! You really get to see Alaska! Well worth saving up for. See what they offer. The glaciers in Glacier Bay have been in rapid retreat for many years. This is very important these days now that only a very few permits are issued to ships going into Glacier Bay. Not every ship that has a permit, goes into Glacier Bay on each cruise (read the small print in the ship's brochure). It's astonishing to think so much change could happen in one lifetime--I'm not 100 years old-- but it's true! The glaciers in other areas such as College Fjord are easier to see from the water and therefore appear to be more spectacular. Close