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Alaska's scenic wonders
From the depths of frozen fjords to vast ice valleys, mountains and glistening glaciers, a voyage on the elegant cruise ship, Queen Elizabeth, ensures that guests have every opportunity to take in these panoramic spectacles. Here are just a handful of the icy highlights to look forward to on a Cunard cruise to Alaska.
Mendenhall Glacier dates back to the Little Ice Age around 3,000 years ago. Take in this ice-blue jewel of the Juneau Icefield via one of the walking routes through magical Tonass National Forest, or take an exhilarating ride on a seaplane - soaring over the Glacier itself, and others located within the Icefield, including the famous five-mile wide Taku Glacier.
Hubbard Glacier – all 76 awe-inspiring miles of it – is located 200 miles northwest of Ju-neau. Backed by looming mountains, this is the largest tidewater glacier on the North American continent, and here you may witness icebergs carving with an earth-rumbling crunch before crashing to the mirrored waters. Chunks of ice the size of 10-storey build-ings are not uncommon.
Tracy Arm Fjord
Tracy Arm Fjord is a spectacular narrow inlet boasting cliffs which rise more than 3000 feet on either side: waterfalls gush down from the steep rock falls, while the twin Sawyer Glaciers stand guard at its end.
College Fjord has a fascinating history. Here, a group of American scientists undertook a voyage in 1899, naming the various glaciers after their universities including Yale and Harvard. Little has changed, with the same icy rivers flowing into the glassy waters that greeted those pioneering passengers more than a century ago.
Glacier Bay National Park discovered
While other states in the Union excel at certain spectacles, nowhere can touch Alaska when it comes to ice. Arguably the best example of this is Glacier Bay National Park, a dominating feature of Alaska’s protected Inside Passage. Part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site, this is one of the world’s largest international protected areas.
The very name Glacier Bay alone is enough to conjure images of a regal yet rugged land, almost bleak in its startling beauty. The terrain is varied, encompassing everything from ice-blue glaciers to emerald forests and soaring mountains. As the ship travels through this Ice Age territory, watch for awe-inspiring calving as ice breaks from the glaciers with a thunderous sound, wonder at the sheer wall of a vast tidewater glacier - actually the end of an immense river of ice - and not least, keep your eyes peeled for countless species of wildlife, including humpback whales, harbour seals, bald eagles, coyotes and even salmon-hunting brown bears.
There’s also a powerful human connection here. The area remains a homeland for the indigenous Tlingit people who have had a connection with Glacier Bay National Park since time immemorial. They named the place Xaatl Tu (pronounced ‘halked-TOO’), meaning ‘Among the ice’.
Today, slowly cruising the Bay remains the ultimate way to experience its majesty and splendour. National Park Rangers and expert naturalist guides are on hand to ensure guests on this Alaska cruise get the very most from this extraordinary full-day adventure - undoubtedly one never to be forgotten.
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