Welcome to my next article about our Alaska cruise, and thanks for following along! In case you missed it, previously I wrote about the top 10 things to know if you’re going to take a Disney Alaska cruise and a review of our 1-bedroom suite and concierge services. Today, I’m going to talk about our first port adventure of the trip.
The Glacier Explorer is a brand-new excursion offered this year. The Disney Cruise Line website described it this way:
Set out on a water-jet-powered catamaran, directly from your Disney Ship, to explore the majestic wilderness of Tracy Arm Fjord.
On this adventure you will…
- Board a deluxe water-jet-powered catamaran directly from your Disney ship and enjoy 2 hours and 45 minutes exploring the exciting Tracy Arm Fjord.
- Revel in close-up views of the majestic Sawyer Glaciers. Cruise the full length of this ice-carved wonderland, hugging the base of cliffs that rise 4,000 feet above the jade-colored sea, as a naturalist shares a wealth of information about all that surrounds you.
- Feel the mist on your face as the captain skillfully navigates the vessel next to a plunging waterfall. Delight in frequent stops to view wildlife, such as harbor seals, mountain goats and bald eagles. The catamaran’s easy maneuverability makes it possible to approach the otherwise formidable North Sawyer Glacier, which cannot be approached by larger ships.
- Spend an hour, slowly passing hundreds of seals resting atop recently calved icebergs on route to a viewing area near the face of spectacular South Sawyer Glacier.
- Hear and feel the rumblings of what is known as “white thunder,” while immense spires of ice break from the glacier and crash into the sea.
- After an extended drift near the glacier’s face, the catamaran will maneuver back into open water to pull alongside your awaiting ship for your safe return.
You’ll notice that the references are all to Tracy Arm and the Sawyer Glaciers. Unfortunately, for our cruise, there had been so much calving (chunks dropping off) of the glaciers that there was too much ice for the ship to go into Tracy Arm. On the plus side, there is another arm that is also part of the Fords Terror Wilderness, Endicott Arm, that has the Dawes Glacier. This is where we went, and we were not at all disappointed with the change!
We met in WaveBands at the appointed time, and were quickly taken down to the debark level. Once we scanned our keys, we walked off the ship, down the walkway, and boarded the catamaran. I don’t know if the port adventure was sold out, but the catamaran was big enough that it did not feel crowded at all.
There were two enclosed decks with plenty of seats and one open deck (no seats, for observation only) on top. The second enclosed deck had a door at the back to an outside deck, and one could walk around on each side of the enclosed area of the catamaran. There were restrooms on the lower level, and there was also a small snack bar where one could buy drinks, snacks, and some souvenirs. They offered complimentary donut holes (until they were gone), and at one point they came around with a sample of some Alaska salmon on a cracker.
It was a treat to see the Disney Wonder from a different vantage point as we pulled away.
We saw some incredible scenery along the way to the glacier. We also saw several bald eagles, but they were too far away to get any good pictures. Someone reported seeing a bear along the shoreline, too, but we weren’t quick enough to see it. One of the naturalists onboard the catamaran gave a narrative throughout the entire trip which was highly informative. I’m sorry to say that I only heard part of it because we spent most of our time outside on deck.
In the above picture you can see another smaller glacier in the middle of the mountains.
Something that surprised me was that that the water was such a light color – and green. For some reason I had expected it to be darker.
We saw lots of blue ice that had calved off of the glacier. The beautiful color is because the ice refracts every color but that particular blue. I was in awe. Okay, I was obsessed. I probably have about 100 different pictures of blue ice, but I’ll contain myself and only show you two.
Then we got to the glacier. To say that it was incredible is an understatement.
We even got to hear the “white thunder” referenced above and see some ice calve off. It happened very quickly, but I did get some pictures of it splashing into the water.
After staying very close to the glacier for quite a while, it was time to head back to the ship – which was actually closer than I thought it would be. The water was clear enough of ice that the ship was able to come pretty close to the glacier too.
Once we were beside the ship, people began to disembark the catamaran. We were one of the last two families on the catamaran when we heard a very loud crack. A huge chunk calved off of the glacier – and we had to wait a few minutes before we could leave the catamaran because of the huge wave that came from it dropping into the water. It rocked both the ship and the catamaran! The water settled after a few moments, and we were able to get back on to the ship.
Soon after we were aboard, the ship turned to leave Endicott Arm. On our way back out, my husband got a great picture of some harbor seals on an iceberg:
The cost of this port adventure was $205 for 10 and up, $145 for ages 3 – 9, and also $145 for ages 0-2. I have to say that for us, it was worth every penny. We saw some of the most beautiful scenery that I’ve ever seen, and it was a very peaceful and relaxing way to spend a few hours. I would definitely do it again if we ever get the chance to take another Alaska cruise.
Have you been on a DCL Alaska cruise? I’d love to hear your experiences. Come by the Magical DIStractions Facebook group and let me know! Magical DIStractions can also be found on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ so please take a moment to follow us. You can also sign up for the Magical DIStractions newsletter and watch videos on our YouTube channel. We will keep you up-to-date on all of the latest news!