National Geographic Quest sailed into Glacier Bay just before breakfast. Glacier Bay is a highlight of any Southeast Alaskan voyage, and today was no different. The sun was shining in an almost cloudless blue sky, and the seas were calm and glassy.
Glacier Bay is well known for its astounding scenery and abundant wildlife. First and foremost, though, it is the ancestral home of the Hoonah Tlingit people, who still work with the Park Service to preserve their way of life and honor this magical place. To understand and appreciate this cultural aspect of Glacier Bay, National Geographic Quest is fortunate to be joined by two members of the Alaska Native Voices coalition. These cultural interpreters work closely with guests and staff to provide meaningful insight regarding the dynamic human history of this place.
As we sailed up the main channel of Glacier Bay, everyone was outside on deck looking for wildlife. Guests and staff peered up the hillsides and over the surface of the water, hoping to notice any signs of animal activity. We didn’t have to wait long before mountain goats were spotted far up on a cliff side. They balanced delicately on the sheer rock faces, graceful and deliberate with every movement. Moving further up the bay, a lone humpback whale spouted a plume of moisture rich breath as it passed our vessel.
Reaching the terminus and most northerly portion of Glacier Bay, the Grand Pacific Glacier and its gleaming white neighbor Margerie Glacier came into view. Everyone gathered on the bow, soaking up the immense proportions of ice. Guests waited to snap well-timed photos as massive blocks of ice calved off the faces of these rivers of ice.
Heading back down the bay, we passed glacier after glacier and took in the snow-covered peaks that surrounded us. Glacier Bay has a historic past and acts as a living laboratory for scientists and visitors alike. Guests can study the unique environment as they enjoy a well-preserved portion of Southeast Alaska.
As our day in Glacier Bay came to an end, we were treated to a classic Alaskan sunset…the sun slowly melted beyond the mountains and into our collective memory.