". Because of this occasion we had to wake up early - around 7 am the ship crossed the border of the national park and took on board a group of employees of this unique nature reserve who accompany all cruise ships coming to the park.
is a unique, UNESCO-protected national park on the southeast coast of Alaska to the west of Juneau. It covers an area of 5.14 sq. miles (13.3 sq. kilometers), most of which are protected places. Nature of the coast of
is presented by glaciers, mountain ranges with snowy peaks, forests, deep fjords, rivers, and lakes. Park has a very small amount of roads, so the cruise is the best way to get acquainted with it. In the forests and along the coast there are bears, deer, in the waters of the bay there are a lot of humpback whales. But the main attraction of the park are glaciers descending from the mountains to the sea. Nature constantly changes - in 1680 the glaciers came down to the sea along the bed of the river that used to flow into it; by the middle of the 18th century (when in 1750 these places were visited by the famous Captain George Vancouver) gigantic glacier reached its maximum size - all the space of the nowadays Glacier Bay was occupied by ice; but in the 19th century the glacier began to retreat, and by 1880, when naturalist John Muir visited the bay, ice boundary moved back 40 kilometers in comparison with 1750. After that, the largest glacier of the bay was named Muir Glacier. In the 20th century, glaciers continued to recede, and at the moment, their border moved back more significantly compared with the end of the 19th century. In the world of glaciers everything is constantly changing, and who knows - when our grandchildren will go to Glacier Bay by ship a hundred years from now, perhaps, this bay will be completely different again...
Now there are 9 glaciers in the national park, and we will see four of them today.
At 7 am the ship crossed the border of the Glacier Bay National Park and headed deeper into Glacier Bay, which has a length of about 31 miles (50 kilometers) and a width of 1.5 to 6.5 miles (3 to 10 kilometers). Standing on the deck, you catch yourself thinking that the ship goes not by sea, but by the huge powerful river. Even specific swirls on the smooth surface of the water seem to imitate the powerful flow. And perhaps, it's not even an imitation - while rise and fall of the tide in Alaska water rushes into the bays (or from the bays) with a very high speed.
The sun sometimes breaks through the clouds and fancily lightens parts of the coast:
Nature of the bay is so beautiful and majestic that any detailed comments are probably irrelevant:
Meanwhile, "Island Princess" approaches the most distant part of the Glacier Bay, which at this point is divided into two fjords - John Hopkins Inlet and Tarr Inlet. We go in Tarr Inlet, the right fjord along our path, and glaciers of John Hopkins Inlet are left on the port side:
Meanwhile, the ship moves to the narrowness of the other fjord - Tarr Inlet, in the depths of which two huge glaciers meet and come down to the ocean - white Margerie Glacier and dark brown, mixed with rock, Grand Pacific Glacier.
There are a lot of ice floats In the depths of the bay - glaciers descend from the mountains to the sea, pieces of ice continuously split off and fall into the ocean. Actually, icebergs are formed exactly in this way.
In the case of appearance of large ice floes dangerous for the ship, a lookout man with powerful optics is constantly on duty on the bow of the ship while sailing along the Glacier Bay.
Meanwhile, the ship reached the end of the fjord, where two glaciers come down to the waters of the bay from the mountains: to the left - white with a blue tint Margerie Glacier...
...and right from the end of the bay - the muddy brown Grand Pacific Glacier is coming from Canada (by the way, there is less than a mile (one kilometer) to the Canadian border here: the distant mountains in the photo - it's not the United States, it's already Canada).
The ship makes an hour stop in the depths of the bay, during which visitors can enjoy the amazing ice kingdom, and to watch how pieces of ice split off the glacier with a bang every minute.
Here's that dark brown, mixed with rock, Grand Pacific Glacier, descending to the bay from the territory of Canada. If you do not know, you probably won't think that this is ice.