Glacier Bay

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Dramatic Glacier Bay National Park was the only overlap between our Norwegian Jewel cruise and our 2010 Southeast Alaska trip on Dirona. But we could return here every year and never tire of the amazing scenery.

On another unusually clear day for early in the season, we cruised slowly up Glacier Bay under a bright blue sky between soaring mountains still covered in snow. Although the sun was shining, the day was cold, and we bundled up to watch from our stateroom’s forward balcony. The topography, and temperature, reminded us very much of our recent trip to Antarctica.

Continuing to the head of Tarr Inlet at the north end of Glacier Bay, the Jewel idled off spectacular Margerie Glacier for nearly an hour while thousands of photographs were taken. 21-mile long (34 km) Margerie Glacier is one of the few in the park that is stable and not receding, and the deep waters in front allow large ships to come very close for wonderful views. Margerie is also is one of the more active for ice calving, and several large chunks dropped into the sea with a tremendous splash as we watched.

The Sapphire Princess was heading up Tarr Inlet as we exited to visit John Hopkins Glacier at the end of the inlet of the same name. John Hopkins Glacier is one of the few advancing glaciers, and also is actively calving. The views down the 12-mile (19 km) body of ice are astounding, with 10,495 ft (3,199 m) peak of Mount Orville dominating the sky beyond.

250 years ago, Glacier Bay was all glacier and no water. That single glacier has been receding ever since and has split of into about a dozen smaller glaciers that are at least 65 miles inland. We noticed a dramatic difference with Reid Glacier compared to our previous visit. When we’d anchored in Reid Inlet in 2010, the glacier had extended right to the water, and 13 years later it had receded a fair distance inland.

The Jewel departed Glacier Bay and the sheltered waters of Southeast Alaska to run offshore in the Gulf of Alaska towards Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay. The weather was wonderfully calm as we enjoyed the rugged mountain scenery of the Fairweather Range over dinner at Cagney’s. We rarely eat dessert, but couldn’t resist sharing their chocolate layer cake.

After catching another show at the Stardust Theater, this one singer Stephanie Pope, we returned to our stateroom to find the best ever towel sculpture: an alligator. We carefully avoided disturbing it, and took in the sunset from our forward deck.

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