Glacier Bay, AK, USA (Cruise-by) cruises
Glacier Bay Port Guide.
Spanning 3.3 million acres, as part of a 25-million-acre World Heritage Site, a Glacier Bay cruise reveals some of the planet’s most remarkable tidewater glaciers.
Top landmarks and sights in Glacier Bay.
There’s so much to take in on a Glacier Bay cruise, it’s hard to know where to begin. Towering mountains, gargantuan icebergs and majestic glaciers stretch as far as the eye can see, disappearing onto the horizon in every direction. It’s a thrilling sight to experience from the deck of a cruise ship, or snuggled under a blanket in the warmth of your stateroom balcony, as you silently watch the world go by.
The park is home to over 1,000 glaciers, the majority of which nestle in the surrounding mountains, connecting land to sky like nature’s skyscrapers. Soaring to 15,000 feet, Glacier Bay’s ranges are the highest coastal peaks in all the world; their abundant snowfall offering the perfect breeding ground for glaciers to take shape.
One of the highlights of visiting Glacier Bay is watching the prolific calving of these shimmering ice giants. Towering hundreds of feet above the water, as well as stretching a hundred feet below, huge jagged pinnacles routinely break off in thunderous explosions, resulting in flotillas of icebergs. It’s an awe-inspiring spectacle.
Things to do in Glacier Bay, Alaska.
There’s a reason cruising is considered the best way to explore Glacier Bay. With dense rainforest, minimal trails (and even fewer roads), Glacier Bay’s natural waters offer the greatest access to the National Park’s awaiting treasures.
Besides the tidal glaciers, for which Glacier Bay is renowned, the area is also a vibrant habitat for a rich variety of wildlife. Huge humpback whales are often spotted breaching and slapping their tails, as pods of orcas silently glide by and sea lions bask in the sun on rocky outcrops. As you sail along the endless miles of pristine coastline, you may see brown bears, mountain goats, and moose, while looking up reveals hundreds of bird species, including rare puffins and majestic bald eagles.
To enrich your experience of this wilderness sanctuary, National Park Service rangers will join you on board and offer deeper insight into this fascinating region. They will present you with a host of fascinating facts about the spectacular scenery, glaciers, and wildlife you will see, and inform you about some of the conservation efforts that go on behind the scenes. They will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have about the history of this protected biosphere reserve and its many inhabitants.
Glacier Bay culture and history.
It’s not just travellers who are fascinated by Glacier Bay. Over the years naturalists, scientists and preservationists have all made the pilgrimage here, as equally enamoured by the secrets Glacier Bay keeps as the stories it has to tell.
As recently as 200 hundred years ago, the entire area was covered by ice, some 20 miles wide and 4,000 feet thick, as documented by Captain George Vancouver when he discovered the bay (then just a Glacier) in 1794. When naturalist John Muir arrived in 1879 it was a different story. The ice had retreated and he was able to navigate Glacier Bay by Canoe. Muir was captivated by the otherworldliness of the scenery he encountered and changed perceptions of Alaska as a place of desolate isolation to one of incomparable beauty.
It was scientist, William S. Cooper, however, who petitioned for Glacier Bay to be granted protected status, when he visited to conduct a series of plant studies in 1916. Overcome by its untamed wildness, he believed nature should be left to its own devices here, and in 1925 Glacier Bay became a national monument. Fifty years on, then-US-President, Jimmy Carter, signed the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act, cementing Glacier Bay as the National Park and preserve we now know it as today.