Overnight the ship sailed to Glacier Bay, a huge National Park and UN World Heritage Site formed largely from a massive receding glacier which was 100 miles long and up to 20 miles wide and 1 mile deep (created from the last mini ice age here in 1750, receding naturally apparently, not due to global warming). There are still lots of smaller glaciers feeding into the bay and it is a couple of these that we concentrated on. The weather has closed in today with very murky conditions in places and lots of rain – typical for south east Alaska (240 wet days a year on average).
We sailed up the length of the Glacier Bay fiord and first went up the Tarr Inlet which had lots of small icebergs from the glacier floating along and spent an hour in front of the huge wall of ice at the end of the Margerie Glacier – the ship just slowly rotated around so that everyone could get photos. Lots of people were out on the promenades despite of the rain although there were lots of shelters under the lifeboats. We were warned it would feel cold and it was icily cold although fortunately there was little wind. The glacier was quite spectacular and had some amazing blue colours in the purer/cleaner bits. Even had a couple of minor falls of ice into the sea – unfortunately not caught on camera.
Margerie Glacier – Detail
At 10:30 we were given warming bowls of pea soup and a cup of tea while sailing on to the next location.
We sailed up John Hopkins Inlet where we saw the John Hopkins hanging glacier – hanging in as much it doesn’t finish in the sea but half way up the mountain as that’s as far as it gets before it melts. Back down this inlet we again stopped and slowly rotated around in front of the Lamplugh Glacier – another quite spectacular wall of ice with remarkable blue colours.
Lamplugh Glacier – Detail
Time to head back down the fiord and have some lunch (which was packed out as everyone had the same idea). After lunch we went to the Frans Hals lounge (which is the big theatre at the front of the ship, on two levels) to listen to a couple of presentations from National Park Rangers about the Glacier Bay national park. The rangers boarded the ship at the mouth of the bay at 6 o’clock this morning from a small boat via a rope ladder – it looks scary as they showed a slide of what that means. The first presentation was about the park in general and a lot about how this particular ranger became a ranger! The second was from a first nation ranger (the Huna Tlingit people) – whose ancestors were driven from the land when the glacier formed 300 years ago – who described stories and customs from the area. The Huna Tlingit people are moving back into the land of their grandfathers and bringing the old customs alive again.
Bought one set of the formal photos which were taken on the 20th, the next formal night is tonight and we don’t plan to buy another set.
We then got back to the end of the bay again and watched the ranger’s boat arrive to collect them from the ship while having another cup of tea. We’re now sailing along onwards to our next destination – Ketchikan.
J was very lucky today as she managed to leave her varifocals on the train yesterday and although we reported it to the Front Desk, we did not expect them to be returned, as we were due to sail in a hour! However, this morning we had a call saying that they had a pair of glasses. Went up and had to describe the glasses and was told that the conductor / guide had found them and rung the ship. A chap from the ship drove to the train depot to collect them. The conductor apparently got into trouble because the train had to be delayed! Amazing service and am very pleased to have the glasses back although I do have another reading pair with me; and it would have been tedious to claim on the insurance & get a new pair.
Brief description of the ship – decks 1, 2, 3, 6 & 7 are state-rooms and we think they get grander the higher you go. We are on Deck 3 but not all the cabins on each deck are the same: some on our corridor have balconies (we don’t). Decks 4 & 5 are restaurants, bars, casino, library, art gallery, shops, theatre, cinema, theatre, lounges. Deck 8 is the Lido (buffet style restaurant, open pretty much all day), bars, pool, hot tubs, spa. The roof of the lido slides open in sections if the weather is good. Deck 9 is the crow’s nest and basket ball court. We were told today that the ship rises 100ft from the sea.