• Winter light on the Fairweather Range

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Enjoying your cruise ship visit

Ask a park ranger about the National Park passport stamp

How to get the most out of your day in Glacier Bay

There are many ways you can enhance your cruise ship visit to Glacier Bay National Park. A team of park ranger/naturalists will board the ship as it enters the bay. You will be cruising in the Park for nearly nine hours. Click HERE for a map highlighting typical cruise ship routes. You will be sailing by glaciers that are many miles long and drop ice into the sea. There are wild animals to be found. There is much to see and experience. Here are a few suggestions to ensure that your day in Glacier Bay will become a highlight of your Alaskan adventure.

 
Stop by the park ranger info desk to ask questions and get oriented

Rangers staff an onboard info desk

Be Informed
Take advantage of onboard information. Invaluable tools to prepare for your visit are the daily onboard schedule of events and Glacier Bay National Park map. These will be delivered to your stateroom. There will also be an information desk, staffed by Rangers, in a lounge onboard. Stop by to meet the rangers, ask questions, and get oriented. Find out when the Ranger programs are scheduled and where they will be. At some point in your day, your ship will stop in front of a tidewater glacier for approximately one hour. What appears to be simply a wall of ice around 200 ft tall and a mile wide is actually the end of a tremendous river of ice, many miles long. It is likely that there will be a considerable amount of ice in the water. There also may be harbor seals laying on the ice. Be sure you know the approximate time your ship will be at the glacier so you do not miss these extraordinary sights.
 
The glaciers are best experienced from the outer decks

Join the rangers on the outer decks

Investigate the ship
Soon after you board, find good viewing locations. If you want to be outside, find the places without glass between you and the view. Don’t forget to try the covered promenade deck. This deck is ideal for viewing, and has the added benefits of bringing you closer to the water, and keeping you out of the rain. While you are at the glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park, the Rangers will be outside, roving the decks. Join them!
 
Glacier Bay is often cloudy

Glacier-building weather

Prepare for the weather
Southeast Alaska has a maritime climate. Moist air from the Pacific Ocean graces the shores of Glacier Bay with over 80 inches of rain a year. In an average year, Southeast Alaska receives about 4 sunny days per month. All this precipitation keeps this coastline moist, builds glaciers in the mountains, and moderates the temperature. Be sure to bring rain gear. The average temperature is around 55º F (13º C). The moisture and cool temperatures may make it seem colder than you expect. While you may be one of the lucky few who see the sun, bring plenty of warm layers. You will want to be outside as much as possible to take in the sights of Glacier Bay, be prepared so you can be comfortable.

Will I spot wildlife?
Bring binoculars! Binoculars can bring you closer to the landscape. You may want to search for wildlife, take a closer look at the texture of the glacier ice, or investigate the fields of pink flowers in the beach meadows. Remember, it can be difficult to estimate size when searching the shore from a ship. The mountains, shorelines, and waterways of Glacier Bay are massive, dwarfing even the largest cruise ship. Wildlife is abundant, yet often appears smaller than you expect. Can YOU spot the Glacier Bay wildlife? Ask the National Park Service Rangers for help in searching for wildlife. It can take patience and determination, but sharp-eyed cruise passengers regularly spot grizzly bears, bald eagles, harbor seals, humpback whales, mountain goats, and even puffins!

Glacier Bay Ranger Audio Series
Excellent interviews with park staff about the many ways to enjoy your cruise visit.

Cruise Ships in Glacier Bay Photogallery

Glacier Bay's Glaciers Photogallery

Helpful Videos

 

 

 
 

 
Glacier Bay rangers

Become a Glacier Bay expert!

Glacier Bay Ranger Audio Series
Enjoy these exclusive interviews with park employees on a wide range of fascinating topics. Bears, birds, glaciers, whales, wilderness, science, etc.

 

Did You Know?

Mountain of Snow

Mt. Fairweather is the tallest peak in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. With an abundance of moist air from the Gulf of Alaska colliding with this high coastal peak, Mt. Fairweather is also one of the snowiest places on Earth.