Travel Guide for Magnificent Glaciers & Fjords in the Arctic

View of Holland America Line cruise ship in Alaska near Hubbard Glacier.

Are icy-blue glaciers and towering fjords at the top of your list for sight-seeing experiences on a Holland America Line cruise? If so, then you’ll enjoy this cruise travel guide highlighting some of the magnificent glaciers and fjords in the Arctic.


Alaska wouldn’t be Alaska without its glaciers. One of the most magnificent experiences in the Great Land is cruising through Glacier Bay. It’s a journey through natural and human history, back to the Little Ice Age. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of the most popular glaciers include Johns Hopkins Glacier, named in 1893 by Harry Feilding Reid, a glaciologist, seismologist and professor at Johns Hopkins University; and Margerie Glacier, named after French geographer Emmanuel de Margerie, who visited in 1913. On cruises to Glacier Bay, park rangers and Huna Tlingit guides bring the history of this extraordinary place to life with engaging talks.

View of Holland America Line cruise ship in Glacier Bay in Alaska.

Other popular Alaska glaciers and fjords include:

  • College Fjord, where many of the glaciers are named after prestigious universities. Glaciers on the left are women’s colleges and the ones on the right are men’s colleges. Some of the more famous glaciers in the College Fjord are Amherst, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Harvard, Smith, Vassar and Yale.
  • Hubbard Glacier, nicknamed “the Galloping Glacier.” Hubbard’s massive ice chunks regularly calve off and thunder into the sea.
  • Tracy Arm, a 30-mile-long fjord accessed through Stephens Passage and part of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. It was named after the Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Franklin Tracy. At the fjord’s end lies the Sawyer Glacier, a glacier with two separate parts, North and South.

Learn more about an Alaska cruise and the history behind many of Alaska’s most famous glaciers.

Iceland & Norway

If a Northern Europe cruise tops your list, consider experiencing glaciers and fjords in Iceland and Norway.

View of Iceland glacier.

An Iceland cruise is full of incredible sights and experiences, including shore excursions where you can walk between tectonic plates, watch geysers erupt, and stand at the edge of a massive waterfall. The country also boasts 109 fjords and 269 named glaciers. Prepare for awe-inspiring sights on:

  • Cruises to Isafjordur, where you could take the Fjords & Flowers tour to the staggering cliffs of Isafjordur for excellent views of the glittering fjord and the picturesque farms along its banks.
  • The Glacier Safari to Langjokull Glacier in Iceland, which is 4,460 feet long, covers an area of about 366 square miles, and is approximately 4,000 feet above sea level.

Norway offers many breathtaking sights along its captivating coasts. Some of the fjords Norway is famous for include:

  • Geirangerfjord, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also claimed to be the world’s most beautiful fjord. It has a depth of nearly 1,640 feet (500 meters) below the surface. Above the water, the fjord’s walls shoot up three times as much.
  • Trondheimsfjord, a must-see if you’re fascinated by the legends of the Vikings. When you sail along this fjord, you’re sailing along the route Vikings took to their capital, Trondheim. Since it’s an ice-free landscape, the historic passageway is also home to corals and marine life. Even giant squid have been discovered in these waters.
  • Liefdefd Fjord, known as Svalbard’s most scenic fjord with some of Norway’s most breathtaking backdrops. It’s part of Nordvest-Spitsbergen National Park. Many visitors are captivated by this area due to its extinct volcanoes, hot springs and glistening blue glaciers.
View of fjord in Norway.

Quick Tips for Viewing Fjords & Glaciers

  • Plan ahead. Stay close to your Navigator App to know when you’ll experience scenic cruising through magnificent fjords and glaciers.
  • Make sure you check in on time for shore excursions and note recommendations in advance, from attire and footwear to planning ahead for meals if they’re not offered during the activity.
  • Dress for the weather. Prepare for layers, hats and gloves when temperatures dip, especially if you plan on heading to the decks to view some of the sights.
  • Capture the view. Invest in binoculars for sightseeing and a camera that will help you get great photos to document the experience.

Where would you like to go to experience icy-blue glaciers and towering fjords? Share in the comments below.


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