5 Unforgettable Experiences on Your Tour of Glacier Bay

View of Alaska glacier in Glacier Bay.

As you stand on deck while touring Glacier Bay, notice the remarkable silence of a place empty of traffic, pedestrians and shops. Even without human infrastructure, the landscape is ever-changing. We’ve been bringing guests to Alaska for more than 75 years, but Glacier Bay always feels new. Here are the top five experiences:

1. Get Face-to-Face with Glaciers

“To dine with a glacier on a sunny day is a glorious thing and makes common feast of meat and wine ridiculous. The glacier eats hills and sunbeams.” John Muir

Though we love a good feast, Muir was right. Nothing compares to the shimmering beauty of Alaska’s glaciers.

In Glacier Bay, you will sidle up to a tidewater glacier for one hour and wait, hopeful and breathless, for ice to split off and fall into the sea. This distant rumble is called “white thunder.” Johns Hopkins Glacier, Lamplugh Glacier and Margerie Glacier are some of the most popular glaciers to view in the park.

As you gaze at these rivers of ice, you will learn the science behind them from Park Rangers’ commentary, which you can hear from the common areas on ship.

View of whale breaching waters in Glacier Bay, Alaska, with snowcapped mountains in background.

Enjoy wildlife sightings while touring Glacier Bay.

2. See Wildlife in Its Habitat

Keep your binoculars ready and watch for Alaska wildlife. This unspoiled marine ecosystem serves as a rich habitat and feeding ground for all sorts of creatures—as big and majestic as a humpback whale, as small as krill.

There are more than 200 species of birds in Glacier Bay National Park. Look for majestic bald eagles soaring high or the speedy peregrine falcon, perched ready to swoop. You can spot black-legged kittiwakes, tufted puffins, rare murrelets, and one of North America’s smallest birds—the ruby-crowned kinglet.

Scan the waters for marine wildlife and the rugged coastline for terrestrial animals. Harbor seals, humpback whales, moose and Alaskan brown bears are a few of the favorites. Did you know Glacier Bay also has salmon shark and little brown bats?

Park Rangers will help you identify the wildlife.

3. Learn About the Huna Tlingit

Glacier Bay was the treasured homeland of the Huna Tlingit until an advancing glacier destroyed their villages. Huna Tlingit place names capture their history in this ever-changing biosphere. For example, S’é Shuyee means “edge of the glacial silt.”

As you cruise Glacier Bay, attend a cultural program on board to gain a deeper understanding of the people who were here long before European explorers.

4. Get Your Passport Stamped

Unlike most of the other national parks, Glacier Bay is only accessible by air or water. But don’t worry—you can still get your Glacier Bay National Park passport stamp. The Park Rangers set up a mobile visitor’s center and can stamp your booklet. Kids get to experience a JR Ranger program at Club HAL®.

Read more about other National Parks in Alaska.

5. Icy Strait Point

Select Alaska cruises include a visit to Icy Strait Point after Glacier Bay. Icy Strait Point is not technically part of Glacier Bay, but it is so beautiful and interesting we could not leave it off the list. It is Alaska Native owned-and-operated and only open when a cruise ship is in port. You can visit a restored salmon cannery, get thrills on a ZipRider that’s taller than the Empire State Building or go on a whale-watching tour. Check Alaska cruise itineraries to determine if Icy Strait Point is included.

Are you going to Glacier Bay? Comment below with what you’re looking forward to.


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