Cruising Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay

We docked at Skagway just after 5:00am this morning, and I’m killing time now until 10:00 when Cathy is going to meet me. She’s taken the day off work and is bringing the dogs down to see me.

The past 2 days have been our glacier viewing days. Hubbard was a huge disappointment as we stayed back from it at least 3 miles. Glacier Bay was excellent – with sunshine, lots of whales, a couple of brown bears, and many mountain goats.

I awoke Sunday morning to the sight of Kayak Island, Cape St. Elias and Pinnacle Rock out of my porthole. By 6:00am when I took this photo, I was up on deck looking back at it.

We met the little Nippon Maru coming out of Yakutat Bay at 2:00pm. I’d never seen her before – she’s a budget ship out of Japan, on a 52-day circle-Pacific cruise.

This was as close as we got the Hubbard Glacier due to heavy ice conditions (this photo was shot at 4:25pm). We only saw a couple of skittish sea otters and a few seals while we were there. Few people stayed up on deck very long.

A closer look at the sea conditions and the face of Hubbard Glacier. There’s obviously been a great deal of calving in recent days, and the face is so sloped now that there may not be good calving again for weeks.

Monday was another gorgeous morning, though it wasn’t clear what was going to happen when we sailed closer to the coast. This photo was shot just west of Cape Spencer at 06:20.

This was the view from my cabin as I got ready to head up to the theatre at 8:30. On deck, a handful of people were watching sea lions and whales – I should have been on the bridge talking to people, not in the theatre.

Heading back to my cabin to get rid of my computer and get changed, I glanced out a window I was walking by and a bunch of active humpbacks very close. I rushed out the nearest door but the bubble-feeding frenzy was over and they never re-appeared.

Just before 10:00, just as the whale show ended, the National Park Service boat arrived and the rangers boarded.

How’s this for a welcome to Glacier Bay?! The Zuiderdam can be seen close to the far shore (right above the girl in green), heading into John Hopkins Inlet.

A closer look at John Hopkins Inlet – the Zuiderdam is just rounding Jaw Point.

I didn’t stand in line the get to the seafood buffet last sailing, but yesterday I waited until the line had almost ended and then joined in, then found a lounger to sit on to enjoy the meal.

The glacier viewing areas on the Coral Princess leave a lot to be desired. There’s blue tinted glass everywhere and no opening windows in this area of Deck 14, so people are crowded at the short sections of open deck that have low railings.

The Margerie Glacier.

I could spend a week in Glacier Bay just focussing on waterfalls!

The variety of light was near perfect yesterday – an enormous range from sun to dark clouds that offered photo ops in every direction.

More waterfalls….

A small river runs from under the Lamplugh Glacier. It’s hard to judge scale but I’d guess it at about 50 feet across.

I wandered around the ship until almost midnight last night, and there was a lot of good music being played. It was old time rock ‘n’ roll night in the Universe Lounge. I didn’t stick my head in there but most other venues were very quiet – the piano player at Crooners had half the tables filled, though.

I actually went to my cabin just after 10:00 but the TV was on the bridgecam channel, and when I saw the sunset light ahead in Icy Strait I went back up on deck. The next 2 photos were taken at 10:24 and 10:32pm.

MUTS (Movies Under the Stars) is a very cool concept but no doubt is much more popular in the Caribbean – only 8 people were bundled up on the loungers watching The Invention of Lying.

I thought that the popcorn wagon was a great touch until I had some – bleh! I suppose putting butter and salt on it would make it hardly to clean spills up.

This was the view from my cabin at precisely midnight last night – June 21st, the longest day of the year. As many years as I’ve been seeing this, I still get a thrill from it.

It’s now 8:00, time to post this and get ready to meet my family for a fun day in Skagway. It looks like a good day to go over to Dyea to play on the beach with Monty and Kayla.


Cruising Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay — 7 Comments

  1. Sorry to read that the Hubbard Glacier was a disappointment. 2 years ago late August I cruised with Celebrity on the Millennium. We had a tough time getting close because of the thick fog. But the shipped used sonar & radar to get through. Pretty scary seeing the small icebergs float by in the fog and not knowing where we are exactly. The foggy journey was well worth the wait to get to view the glacier up close.

  2. Thank you very much for my Winter Solstice midnight birthday photo! We were very lucky last September to get very close to the Hubbard. I can see how different the face looks in your photo because of so much calving. We were able to actually see (& photograph) calving. The Margerie Glacier looks striking. I reckon bundling up for MUTS would be fun – great idea. Sue & John must be just about heading for their second port of call on the Ryndam. It wouldn’t be at Skagway when Coral Princess is, would it? Love reading the blog.

  3. Do you have any of your waterfall pictures to sell? That is one of my husband’s favorite sites in Alaska.

  4. Marie – the Zuiderdam was in Skagwiy with us – don’t know where the Ryndam is.

    Rejeana – I’ll post some hi-res waterfalls for you when I get home and Internet access doesn’t cost 40 cents a minute 🙂

  5. My wife and I were on the Millineum this time last year (2009) for oue 30th anniversary and I can tell you we were blessed with a totally different experience. The Captian and his bridge crew did an excellent job of getting us within 2000 yards of the glacier. And using the ships thrusters, spun the ship like it was on a stick. From every vantage point of the tenth and eleventh decks, we were awed by Hubbard’s size and depth of color and witnessed several calvings. Not every trip is the same but we’ve deffinately put Alaska BACK on our bucket list for a return engagement.

    • It’s always a pleasure to hear from someone who has had a superb experience such as that, Steven. We’ve had that sort of luck on previous visits to Hubbard, so know what it’s like 🙂