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Alaska Cruise:
Amsterdam (7 night Seattle return)

by Murray Lundberg

    Page 1: Whitehorse - Seattle - at sea
    Page 2: Juneau
    Page 4: Sitka
    Page 5: Ketchikan
    Page 6: Victoria - Seattle - Whitehorse

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

    Monday, July 23: Just before 0700, a National Park Service boat met us, and a couple of rangers boarded the Amsterdam to narrate our cruise through Glacier Bay National Park (detailed map of Glacier Bay).

We had just gone on a Glacier Bay flightseeing trip out of Skagway a few weeks ago, so were both particularly looking forward to seeing it from sea level.

    The first tidewater glacier we came to was the Reid Glacier. Eleven miles long, it was named by members of the 1899 Harriman Alaska Expedition for glaciologist Harry Fielding Reid.

    Near the beach in front of the glacier could be seen a small cruise boat and a couple of miles up the bay was a large group of people with kayaks, presumably from that boat. We saw several reminders in Glacier Bay that the "small ship experience" is very different from what we were experiencing. Whether that means a better, worse or merely different experience depends on your specific interests.

    The weather was very misty as we entered Glacier Bay, but was clearing nicely as we went deeper.

    Lamplugh Glacier, 8 miles long and named after British geologist George W. Lamplugh, was next on our itinerary. Sometimes the excitement of seeing a glacier up close makes people forget things when they dash out from their cabins - this was a very casual cruise, though!

    The Lamplugh has retreated onto the beach on the south side, so won't be a tidewater glacier for much longer.

    John Hopkins Inlet. We sat here for about half an hour before moving ahead to where we could see the John Hopkins Glacier at the head of the inlet. This appeared to be because another ship was already at the glacier.

    The Spirit of Endeavour near the face of the John Hopkins Glacier. Twelve miles long, the glacier flows from Lituya Mountain and Mount Salisbury, and was named in 1893 after John Hopkins University.

    Directly north of John Hopkins Inlet is Tarr Inlet, at the head of the which are the Grand Pacific and Margerie Glaciers. The 25-mile-long Grand Pacific Glacier has retreated so much that the gravel it has scraped from the mountains is all that can be seen at the shore - many people would no doubt not even recognize it as a glacier.

    The Margerie Glacier (often mis-spelled as Marjorie Glacier), in contrast, is the most impressive of the Glacier Bay glaciers. In the enlarged photo you can just make out a small boat at the face. Twenty-one miles long, it was named for French geographer and geologist Emmanuel de Margerie, who visited Glacier Bay in 1913.

    The Margerie is the most active of the Glacier Bay glaciers in terms of calving, the name used for chunks of ice falling off the face. We saw several large calvings during the hour we spent in front of the glacier.

    We headed out of Glacier Bay after leaving the Margerie, and by 5:30 were back in Icy Strait, heading west to the open sea. Some people report seeing a lot of wildlife in Glacier Bay, but on our ship there was one humpback seen (the NPS ranger reported it long after we were past it), and a brown speck on the beach that was apparently a bear.

    The coast is incredibly complex, and views such as this make me want to spend a summer or two exploring the inner channels!

    At the mouth of Glacier Bay, we saw more humpback whales than I'd ever seen in one location - perhaps 20 within 2 miles. Few people on the ship saw them - neither the captain nor the ship naturalist said anything to bring the amazing sight to anyone's attention.

To Page 4: Sitka