• Sunset view of Glacier Bay and the surrounding Fairweather Mountains.

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Cruise Ship Services

This page includes information regarding Cruise Ship concession authorizations in Glacier Bay. For a complete listing of companies that provide commercial visitor services in and around Glacier Bay, please see the Goods and Services page.

Cruise ship means any motor vessel of at least 100 tons gross (U.S. System) or 2,000 tons gross (International Convention System) certified to carry more than 12 passengers for hire. [36 CFR 13.1102]

Cruise Ship Vessel Quota Information
As of January 2, 2007, new vessel regulations became effective and established two separate seasonal cruise ship vessel quota periods in Glacier Bay and increased the seasonal vessel quotas in both the prime and shoulder season periods.

Cruise ship use in Glacier Bay proper is subject to both daily and seasonal regulatory limits. A "daily vessel quota" limits use to no more than two cruise ships per day (year around). In addition, "seasonal vessel quotas" are in effect for May and September (for convenience we refer to this as the "shoulder season") and June, July and August ("prime season"). For 2007 (and until changed) the shoulder season quota is 92 use days and the prime season quota is 153 use days. These seasonal quotas are reviewed annually by the Superintendent and may be reduced or increased (to a maximum of two per day, every day) as needed to protect park values and purposes. [36 CFR 13.1160]

Additional information regarding vessel quotas and the parks vessel management program is available at: http://www.nps.gov/glba/parkmgmt/vessel.htm


Cruise Ship Concession Authorizations
Cruise ship services are authorized under concession contracts. A specific number of entries/use days are allocated to specific Cruise ship concessioners to operate in Glacier Bay during the prime season, June - August. These concessioners then coordinate their scheduling to insure compliance with the daily and seasonal limits. Two Concessioners (Holland/America and Princess Cruises) are currently historical operators, as defined by ANILCA section 1307, which entitles them to non-competitively continue their historic use (seventy-one entries), 36CFR, Sec. 13.305. The remaining entries have been competitively allocated. If you are interested in providing cruiseship services in Glacier Bay during the shoulder season, please contact the concession staff below for information on submitting a proposal.

There are currently five companies listed below are authorizationed to provide cruise ship services in Glacier Bay (click on the link to view their concession contracts):
Princess Cruiselines
Holland America, Inc.
Norwegian Cruiselines
Carnival Cruise Lines
Crystal Cruises

Interpretive Rangers onboard Cruise Ships
Cruise ships entering Glacier Bay proper utilize interpretive services provided by the park on a cost recovery basis. For most ships, this means that two park rangers board each ship as it enters the bay and provide interpretive programs to passengers throughout the day.


News Release
October 17, 2005, Superintendent Tomie Lee announced that more visitors would be able to visit Glacier Bay due to an increase of cruise ship entries that will be available to operators beginning in 2007. For more information, please read the entire Alaska National Parks News Release.

Commercial Vessel Services are authorized in accordance with the Park's Vessel Management Plan. The Vessel Management Plan also provides for vessel use restrictions aimed at protecting park resources (humpback whale feeding, seal pupping, etc.) and pollution minimization programs, including stack emissions control, spill prevention and recycling programs.

The Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve Marine Vessel Emissions Program (30 KB .pdf) provides details on how the park applies regulations limiting vessel stack emissions.

Cruise Ship Photography/Filming Policy includes the guidelines for commercial filming of a cruise ship for advertising purposes. The policy is outlined below:

Each concessioner is authorized one launch per ship to photograph the ship for advertising purposes, subject to the following conditions:

  • Prior to lowering the launch, the concessioner must advise the Park in writing that the activity is to occur, indicating the company, ship, location and date. This notification may be by fax (907-697-2654), e-mail (e-mail us) or given directly to the Rangers on board.
  • This activity may occur only when no other cruise ships are present.
  • The ship must be at full stop while the launch is in the water.
  • Activities related to the launch and subsequent photography must be inconspicuous and carried out in a discrete manner.
  • When in the vicinity of a glacier, the launch may not pass between the ship and the nearest glacier face.
  • Additional photographic launches will only be authorized in extenuating circumstances and will require specific approval from the Park Superintendent.
  • Gathering Ice: The park will not authorize requests by cruise ships to launch secondary vessels - or collect by any other means - small icebergs in park waters.

Notes: Requests for commercial filming involving aircraft or other off-vessel activities should be handled through the park commercial filming permit office (contact: Chief Ranger). Most cruise lines have made a commitment not to use helicopters for this purpose.


Applying for a Cruise Ship Concession Contract:
The normal NPS procedure for soliciting concession services is through issuance of a prospectus which defines the services needed and sets criteria for evaluating and selecting from among applicants. Previous solicitation is shown below. Since there are occasionally updates and clarifications issued regarding a prospectus, we recommend that anyone seriously considering responding to a prospectus, contact the park to be put on the mailing list to receive updates and clarifications.

May 20, 2008 Cruise Ship Prospectus


Contact Concessions Specialists Marilyn Trump or Melanie Berg by e-mail or telephone (907) 697-2230 for more information.
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Did You Know?

calving glacier

Seawater is highly erosive to glacial ice. Waves and tides work away at an unstable glacier face, causing huge chunks of ice to calve, or break off, into the ocean.