Glacier Bay – Alaska

Royal Holiday Cruises offers travelers the chance to experience some of the most spectacular landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. Visit towering glaciers, sweeping ice fields, deeply hewn gorges and fjords, and the homes of humpback and orca whales, sea lions, and other marine mammals. Royal Holiday Cruises takes travelers to Glacier Bay, Alaska, where the natural beauty is well known as the high point of any vacation.

Glacier Bay itself, near the southeastern part of the state, runs inland for about 50 miles. The sources of its glaciers are the Fairweather Range to the west and the ice-crowned St. Elias Mountains eastward. Royal Holiday Cruises passengers can experience breathtaking views of both earth-bound glaciers and those that flow down to the sea, with Johns Hopkins Glacier now the biggest in size of the bay’s 12 tidewater glaciers. Near the mouth of the bay, the recession of the glaciers has left room for forests of spruce and hemlock to thrive in the maritime climate.

United States Navy Captain Lester Beardslee named the bay in 1880, although the indigenous Tlingit people knew of the bay long before its discovery by other explorers. The famed natural history writer John Muir is the first American known to have explored the bay, which received a national monument designation in 1925 and became a national park 55 years later.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Royal Holiday Cruises travelers will enjoy making discoveries of their own in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, as they experience what the earth was like when it emerged from the last ice age. Accessed through the town of Gustavus, on a small spit of ground to the east of the bay’s entrance, the park encircles a total of 16 active glaciers, including Muir Glacier and Reid Glacier. Most of the bay’s glaciers are receding, carving the tracks of fjords behind them, and additionally experience frequent episodes of calving, in which they leave large icebergs across the bay. Royal Holiday Cruises’ stop in Glacier Bay will open a new natural world to the senses of any traveler and a wide variety of species of land and sea animals and plants can be seen throughout the park.

Whale Watching and Other Wildlife Sightings

During a Royal Holiday Cruises trip to Glacier Bay, visitors might be able to photograph the migration of the humpback whales that return to the region each summer after a winter in Hawaii. Near the shores of Glacier Bay National Park, travelers may enjoy sights of killer whales, minke whales, and porpoises. Harbor seals raise their families on the ice floes in Johns Hopkins Inlet, and sea otters are quickly becoming established in the bay. On land, moose and bears are both prevalent, with both species also being accomplished swimmers in the bay’s cold waters. Bird-watchers will find migrating sea ducks and geese taking refuge along the edges of the bay, or bald eagles along the shore. Songbirds often scatter throughout new growths of hillside greenery, and waterfowl make their homes among the shallows of the Beardslee Islands.

Make sure to bring wet-weather gear when Royal Holiday Cruises stops in Glacier Bay, since there are few days in the year that are not overcast and rainy. Average temperatures hover around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but may feel colder. Glacier Bay National Park service personnel maintain close relationships with cruise lines, and offer a wealth of printed and in-person information to passengers.