Day Four – Missed a Whale but hit the Bay

view from afarTuesday (day four of my Alaska Adventure) started out like a typical day on the cruise ship; got up early to walk up eight flights of stairs to work out on the Lido Deck. After a nice work out, showered and met my buddies for breakfast where I ordered my usual Scandinavian Breakfast and coffee, coffee, coffee.  As I was sitting my a huge window enjoying the view and talking to my friend Debbie (who was sitting across from me), it seemed that the ship was turning but not in a normal, gentle fashion. Some of our drinks spilled a little and as I glanced to look at the expressions on the faces of our waiters (who looked equally startled), it seemed that the boat was turning even harder to the right.  As we were tilting more and more, a bunch (not a few) of dishes fell off the tables, crashing and breaking on the floor.  This lasted about 10 seconds and then it seemed we returned back to a normal position.  After a few minutes, the Captain got on and quickly said something that resembled the following:

“Hello, this is your Captain, A few moments ago, as you all experienced, we took a hard right turn.  I had to use a lot of rudder to avoid collision with a whale.  Thank you”.

alaskanchowderI will be honest….it was a little scary as there was a moment I thought to myself, oh dear, this isn’t going to turn out well.  But, all good and with breakfast finished, it was time to get ready to essentially spend the entire day on deck since today was the day we were going to sail to Glacier Bay National Park. At around 10:30 am, the crew offered everyone on the decks some traditional Alaskan chowder including my friends pictured above  (Kirk, Deb and David). As we entered the Glacier Bay, most of my view in the beginning was from Deck 11 (Lido Deck) as indicated by the picture below:

glacierbayone

Originally recognized as a National Park in 1925, the United States re-designated its standing as a National Park in 1980.  Just 250 years ago, Glacier Bay was all glacier and no bay. A massive river of ice (about 100 miles long and thousands of feet deep) occupied the entire bay. Today, the glacier is gone, having retreated north. Fewer than a dozen smaller tidewater glaciers remain.

glacierbaymainAs we started sailing the inner passage, the weather was jacket-worthy; it was partly cloudy, a little windy, and about 60-65 degrees. The further we sailed into Glacier Bay, not only did it initially get colder, but you could see more ice floating on the ocean as evidenced in the picture above. Interestingly, the weather eventually changed; the sun was out in full force and it felt like 75-80 degrees on board. I was surprised to actually see so much green on the mountain tops.

galcierbayfourThe purpose of sailing into the inner passage was to take the Tarr Inlet to reach the face of Margerie Glacier. The picture on the left shows our initial approach to Margerie Glacier; the cool thing about this part of the trip glacierbaysevenwas that the ship stopped for one hour (30 minutes Port Side and then turned to sit 30 minutes Starboard Side) to allow us to view, in complete amazement, the face of Margerie Glacier. The snow is so compressed in glacierbaysixareas that when the light hits it just so, it illuminates in a beautiful soft blue. During this one hour, you can hear ice cracking; it sounded like cannon balls going off, making a BOOM sound. We were able to see pretty significant amounts of the glacier fall into the ocean, creating a lot of movement that sounded like loud thunder. During this entire viewing, despite a lot of people on deck, everyone was very quiet, just soaking in the view, until a big chunk of ice fell off the glacier and into the ocean.  Then you would hear plenty of “Ohhhhhhh’s” and “Ahhhhh’s” amongst other things. The visit to Margerie Glacier was wonderful with perfect weather!

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