"" Writer's Wanderings: Scenic Cruising - Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

Monday, September 23, 2013

Scenic Cruising - Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

A misty pre dawn sky greeted us at 6 a.m. as we quickly dressed to go find some coffee and be awake for our scenic cruise up into the Tracy Arm Fjord. In the past, we had explored College Fjord and Glacier By National Park but this would be our first foray into Tracy Arm. I wondered if the Sawyer Glacier would be as spectacular as the Hubbard.

Cruising up a fjord to see a glacier is an exciting adventure. The Tracy Arm did not disappoint us as the morning progressed. The misty clouds dissipated and the sun began to grace the mountain tops surrounding us. It is amazing to see how a large cruise ship fits into a fjord. Part of the reason they can cruise a fjord is because a fjord is u-shaped, carved out millions of years ago by much larger glaciers than any we see today. The sides of the fjord go straight down so there are few shallow areas to navigate.

The stone face of the sides of the fjord showed the scarring of ages past from glaciers and weather. Several places were tinged with colors of minerals in the rock perhaps some of it iron which gave it a rusty look.

Anticipation grew as we rounded another bend and began to see more and larger chunks of ice. The closer we got to our end destination, the South Sawyer Glacier, the more ice floated by. Finally we could see up ahead the cool deep blue of the glacier where it met the water. Our ship got relatively close although distance is hard to estimate by sight when everything is on such a large scale.

While the Sawyer Glacier was not as large as the Hubbard, it was still very impressive. The ship barely made a sound as it slowed to almost a stop and allowed for a few minutes of viewing the glacier straight on from the port side. People spoke in hushed tones as they stood in awe of the natural marvel.

All too soon we needed to turn and begin our trip back out. The Star Princess was due to arrive shortly after us. We hurried to the back of the ship and watched the glacier disappear around a bend. We had seen only one small piece calve as we watched but it was still amazing to behold.

Shortly back up the fjord, we watched the Star Princess round a bend. Caught in the sunlight with the dramatic scenery surrounding it we felt that we were seeing a live travel poster for Alaska. Shouts echoed off the walls of the fjord as each ship greeted the other with cheers.

Lunch was had on the Lido deck in the Horizon Court so that we could continue to enjoy our passage through Tracy Arms. In a few hours, we would be making a right turn and heading for our next port of call in the afternoon, Juneau.

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