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.

To contact the cruise directly, click here.

Last Visited: July 2000

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