Tag Archives: glacier

An Alaskan Cruise Brought Us to the Sawyer Glaciers

When you are on a one week plus Alaskan cruise, you are bound to experience at least one glacier along the way. At the crack of dawn one day aboard the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship, we headed north through the Inside Passage towards Juneau. About 45 miles south of Alaska’s capital city we cut over and into the Tracy Arm Fjord.

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

We were now on a 20+ mile journey through the fjord and its blue icy waters heading toward its apex. It’s there where we would have our first glacier sighting in the Sawyer Glaciers. The decks filled up fast, especially at the bow, once the ship began navigating this narrow passage.

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord on an Alaska Cruise, Celebrity Solstice

Small chunks of ice started appearing randomly floating in the water. We passed by one valley after another, featuring up to 7,000 foot tall snow-capped mountains.

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Before realizing it the face of one of the Sawyer Glaciers was right in front of us. It’s vastness above the surface had me thinking. How far into the water does it go? We got as close as we could safely.

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Throughout our hour to hour and a half stay I did my best to navigate through the masses. I got pretty close to the bow of the ship to capture the beautiful cobalt blue ice that lied straight ahead.

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

If you look carefully you can see a group of people out on the open water in a small tour boat getting a closer look. This excursion took off from our cruise ship. I wonder the views they must have gotten?!

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord on an Alaska Cruise, Celebrity Solstice

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord on an Alaska Cruise, Celebrity Solstice

Tip: If you are there in the warmer months, you might run into some seals and their newly born pups. No sightings for me unfortunately.

Being it was the early morning, it meant lots of coffee consumption while checking out the Alaskan beauty.

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, in Alaska, morning coffee

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, in Alaska, morning coffee

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, in Alaska, morning coffee

In fact, we would later go on to see the Mendenhall Glacier also around Juneau. Two glaciers in one trip! This mornings Alaskan adventure that brough us to the Sawyer Glaciers was a memorable one.

What are some memorable stops you’ve made on a cruise? Have you had a chance to see a glacier up close?

#CTC13: Capture The Color.

It’s time for the Travel Supermarket‘s Capture the Color photo competition 2013 edition. This year I got tagged by Karla of Traveller soul and Ted of Traveling Ted. Thanks guys!

This year I decided to find photos with the colors yellow, red, green, white and blue with a little Alaskan cruise flavor. Well without further ado:

Blue

When cruising of course you’ll see the blue of the water and the sky, but in Alaska you’re bound to see the blue of a glacier or two as well. We parked for a while at Sawyer Glacier in the Tracy Arm Fjord of the Inside Passage. Lots of staring going on. The rain jacket of the person right in front of me was a nice blue bonus.

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, Inside Passage, Alaskan, alaskan cruise

Green

Up-top of the Celebrity Solstice you’ll find vast green lawns to run on, play some croquet or to lay down and relax and checkout the scenery. It doesn’t get much better than the Seattle skyline staring right back at you.

Seattle from aboard Celebrity Solstice, Alaskan Cruise

Red

If you’re not relaxing on the lawns of the Solstice you could be lying low with a cocktail at the stern of the ship. Red chairs aplenty at the outside Ocean Bar.

Celebrity Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, Pacific Ocean, Alaskan Cruise

White

If the above two don’t do it for you, just find an open railing at the stern, lean forward and get a better view of the white water, a part of the ships wake. The trail is heading right for the white clouds off in the distance. 🙂

Celebrity Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, Pacific Ocean, Alaskan Cruise

Yellow

Our ship was too big to dock in Juneau, so we had to take a small boat into town once in port. It was dark on the way back, so we got to see the Celebrity Solstice all lit up. Amongst all the lights is the yellow of the state and concierge rooms.

Celebrity Solstice lit up in Juneau, Alaska

Now’s the fun part. I’m nominating the following great travel bloggers to take part. Your it! 🙂

Karen of Flavors of Bogota
Anis of Five Foot Traveler
Amy of The Wherever Writer
Ellen of Feugomania
Marian of Travel Shop Girl

Have a look at the official rules of the competition. Checkout my post Capturing the Color of My Travels from last year.

Cheers! 🙂

Alaska: A Visit to Mendenhall Glacier.

A short drive north from downtown Juneau within the Mendenhall Valley is the glacier of the same name. People from all over the world, a lot of times via an excursion off of a cruise ship, head to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center to checkout the glacier along with the mountains, wildlife, greenery and more.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

My fiance and I visited via an excursion in the early evening and immediately walked towards one of the vista points.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

The Mendenhall Glacier is currently twelve miles long carving it’s way through the Mendenhall Valley ending where you are viewing it from in the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is part of the largest forest in the United States, the Tongass National Forest.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

We were lucky enough to be there in during an unusually warm and sunny day. That led to some glacier reflection shots off Mendenhall Lake and time up close…

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

…with it’s cold glacier water.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

As you can see on the map above you’ll find plenty of walking trails to enjoy the Alaskan wilderness and different vantage points. It was a combination of tourists and locals walking their dogs and running.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Due to the warmer temperatures on average the Mendenhall Glacier has been receding faster from the front than it’s forming in the back. They say it might not be that many years before it will be hidden from view from the Visitor Center.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Off to the right of the glacier when viewing from the vista points is Nugget Falls, whose water falls into the lake, originating from the Nugget Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

All around the lake your bound to see mini floating icebergs broken off from the glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Walk less than a mile on the Nugget Falls Trail from the Visitor Center to see the falls up close.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

Be on the lookout for bears when in the park. No food is allowed within.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

It was a beautiful evening and time at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

We got to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center by signing up for a tour/excursion through ShoreTrips and it was run locally by Orca Eco Tours. Our host and tour guide were very informative giving us lots of information about both the glacier and Juneau. Checkout other Juneau excursion options from ShoreTrips.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Some additional tidbits:

  • Checkout the history of the glacier in the Visitor Center. There is a $3 fee to enter. It sits up-top a small cliff.
  • It’s free to walk the trails, use the restrooms and visit the souvenir shop.
  • There are other trails going away from the waterfall and glacier where you’ll probably spot a bear and see lots of salmon swimming in the water.
  • The park is opened year around but just on the weekend with shorter hours during the winter and colder months.
  • Leave at least a few hours to explore all the trails and stare at all the scenery.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

What glaciers have you visited in your travels?

Pre-Cruise Concerns, No Worries!

I’ve traveled a lot over the years by car, plane, train and on foot. Never exclusively by water. Never via a cruise ship. A new experience was in store for both my fiance and I as we got ready to go on a Celebrity Alaskan Cruise.

Celebrity Solstice cruise ship in Ketchikan, Alaska

There were a few things, concerns if you will, going through my head beforehand. I love being out on the open road traveling, being able to venture as far or as short a distance as I desire. How I would feel being so-called “trapped” in a small area, with water all around, for two days at a time?

Once on the cruise ship, I started walking and exploring going in a given direction until I met railings outside or a dead-end inside. I had the confined feeling.

Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Cruise

As time went on though I realized with the width of the cruise ship and the number of decks, there was more than enough things to checkout. With a library, multiple pools, bars, a theater and casino, an outside lawn and more, there was lots of exploration possibilities.

The Library and indoor pool, whirlpool on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship.

Being on an Alaskan cruise and going through the Inside Passage we were pretty close to land at all times so every time you looked the landscape and water were different and always spectacular. I thought to myself, I wasn’t trapped. There is the Tracy Arm Fjord right in front of us from our concierge room and the mountains from an outside deck with Skagway straight ahead.

Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska from concierge room

Lawn, Deck 15, Celebrity Solstice in Skagway, Alaska.

Another concern was the weather and the waves and the possible motion sickness as a result.

The first night while trying to sleep, the waves on the open sea didn’t help my thinking. It seemed to be much better when out-and-about and having fun than when parked in one spot or trying to rest in the room. Checking out the waves up close in front of night two seemed to help. 🙂

Throughout the week-long cruise I noticed a lot of people wearing wrist bands and patches by the ear to help combat the motion sickness.

Not packing enough was at the forefront of my thoughts too. Swimming, the excursions, having to pack for all seasons and the formal dinners and functions on the ship all lead to what if I forget to pack something.

It turned out to be warmer than usual so a lot of the heavier clothes never got used. The rain jacket turned out to be my best friend, when it was cooler, raining or just damp like at the Sawyer Glacier.

Wearing rain gear at Sawyer Glacier in Alaska.

While on the cruise ship you could hangout and enjoy everything at your own pace, even more than I realized. What about the formal dinners and other functions? The timing of those was somewhat loose and if you felt like getting soft-serve ice cream and random assortments of food for dinner wearing shorts and flip-flops, you could have at it. There were plenty of shops on the ship and at the ports of call in case something was really needed.

Now on the silly side before the trip I was thinking about what I was going to do about my morning coffee. The excursions and ports of call fun were thought out ahead of time so I knew that there were coffee opportunities off the ship. What was on the cruise ship was more of mystery until we got on it. The first morning put the biggest smile on my face when I read the ships daily newsletter and saw that they had a grind of the day at a coffee shop on board, Café al Bacio!

Café al Bacio, Celebrity Solstice cruise ship, coffee shop

What a sigh of relieve. With specialty drinks and more, that meant it wouldn’t be exclusively black coffee on the open water. 🙂

A lot of the worries and concerns I had beforehand turned out to be an afterthought as the cruise got going. The Alaskan Cruise was an amazing experience for the both of us and next time I can just say, “No worries!”.

What things or concerns were on your mind before your first cruise?