Spirit of Adventure Glacier Bay Cruise
One can encounter any number of different sized boats in
Glacier Bay National Park. Kayakers
on a month vacation paddle from island to island, luxury yachts stop for a
perfect picnic spot on the protected waters, and huge floating hotels with
thousands of guests aboard share these waters with whales, seals and sea otters.
We are all dwarfed by the immensity of the mountains, glaciers and fjords
of Glacier Bay National Park.
The Spirit of Adventure cruises daily on an eight hour tour
showing the spectacular highlights of one of the world’s most beautiful parks.
This boat is a two deck craft with two passenger cabins, one on each
deck. The aft section of both decks
is open for unobstructed viewing and photography.
The galley on the lower deck serves complimentary coffee, tea and hot
cocoa during the entire trip. The
trip costs $156 per person and includes lunch served in the galley – clam
chowder and vegetarian chili. There
are restrooms on board. There are
also binoculars for loan. The crew
asks for an ID as a deposit for the binoculars.
We made our reservations through the Goldbelt
Tour Center in Juneau. The
Spirit of Adventure leaves from the dock directly behind the Glacier Bay Lodge
in Bartlett Cove.
Glacier Bay National Park is about the size of
Connecticut. Most of the people who live there live in the town of Gustavus.
This means that wildlife roam free over unspoiled habitats thriving as
they have for thousands of years. The
cruise was by no means disappointing when it came to spotting this wildlife.
We were treated to views of moose, stellar sea lions, orcas (killer
whales) and humpback whales. In
fact, this cruise rivals the amount of wildlife one would see during a ride
through Denali National Park. Birds
are in no short supply for this trip either.
Claimjumper and I identified cormorants, oyster catchers, eagles,
kittiwakes, and puffins (both tufted and horned).
We had the good fortune of meeting and getting to know two
visitors from Washington D.C. Priyanka,
a surgeon, and her husband Nicco, a computer engineer, had taken several weeks
off to come and enjoy an amazing adventure through several parks in Alaska.
Originally from India, Nicco had spent some time hiking in the Himalayas.
Nicco was fascinated by how the mountains of Glacier Bay climb straight
out of the water. He pointed out that although he had grown up in a
regions surrounded by mountains, these were radically different from those of his childhood.
A park naturalist accompanies the boat on all its trips.
The naturalist is responsible for talking about the wildlife and history
of the area. We found the stories
about John Muir, one of America’s most famous naturalists, absolutely
fascinating. And the tour
naturalist was quite helpful when it came to identifying species of bird.
Of course, the park is not called Glacier Bay for nothing.
Much of the park, including the channel that we traveled was completely
covered by ice as recently as the civil war during the “little ice age.". We traveled
right up to within a quarter mile of Grand Pacific Glacier.
Silently we waited and watched to see whether the glacier would
“calve” off. Sure enough, after
some smaller slides, with a resounding boom a ten story face fell off and
crashed into the ice filled water below. As
the water melts at the bottom of the glacier, the massive ice sheets, some as high
as 25 stories, sheer off and drop into the turquoise/aquamarine waters below.
Last Visited: July 2000