There wasn’t much research done before we went on this trip. We knew we wanted to cruise, we knew it was Alaska, we just followed the ship’s itinerary. I guess that’s the beauty of cruising? Just hop on and worry later. When Tracy Arm Fjord appeared on the itinerary, we really didn’t know what to expect. It was also suppose to happen between 6am – 10am. “What? 4 hours only for a port of call?! And so early!” were my first thoughts. Obviously I was ignorant, because who docks in a Fjord!? We sail into it!
It turned out to be one of the most enchanting mornings of the trip. So you know those aerial photos of cruise ships sailing in a narrow passage between steep mountain sides and surrounded by icebergs? Yup, we did that for those 4 hours in the Tracy Arm Fjord. We’ve sailed through the Norwegian Fjords before but the Alaskan experience was so much more fun! Why? Because the cruise company hired an Alaskan expert to give a running commentary throughout those 4 hours!
We woke up bright and early at 5+am and quickly turned on the TV to listen in on the live commentary by Brent Nixon, a naturalist who knows all things about Alaska and its flora and fauna. I would say that our whole trip was made more educational and fun mainly because of him. He gave live talks everyday, from things like Alaskan history to the 101s of whales, bears and bald eagles. The talks were extremely informative (useful when we tried to spot all these animals on our trip) and done in a very entertaining manner as well.
Huddled in cosy blankets and eating breakfast on our balcony while we sailed into the Fjord was such a luxury. The crisp air, blue waters and the beautiful scenery added to my feelings of being so fortunate and blessed to be able to do this in my lifetime.
At the end of the Tracy Arm Fjord was the Sawyer glacier. The captain tried to steer us as close as he could. There were icebergs in the way and he joked that he didn’t want us to be stars of another movie you know? We lingered for a while to admire the glacier and the ship was even turned so passengers from both the port and starboard sides of the ships could have a good look. It was interesting to note that because Tracy Arm Fjord was so narrow and only has one way in and out, cruise ships take turns to sail into it, and sometimes they don’t get very far inside if there are too many icebergs floating around. Even the seemingly tiniest ones can cause big trouble. Remember we only see 10% of all icebergs above water!
On the same day, we were dropped off in the Alaskan capital city of Juneau. One of two American state capitals that can only be accessed by air and water. Juneau was pretty much a non-event as it was again populated by yucky tourist traps. It wasn’t a very pretty town. It was also pouring rain when we arrived.
Thankfully, we got out of the city quick and took a short ride for a canoeing trip that we had pre-reserved. We thought maybe the rain would affect our excursion but nope, canoeing was one of few that would go on rain or shine!!! Many others who booked helicopter rides and white water rafting had theirs cancelled on them. We had planned to canoe to the Mendenhall glacier. The rain had actually made it really foggy that day, and canoeing up close to the glacier was really one of the only ways to see it. Even people at the visitors’ center would not have been able to see a thing.
We got suited up in ugly waders and raincoats for the trip to the glacier. People who know me well know that I am a total 姑娘 when it comes to outdoorsy stuff so this was an experience totally out of my comfort zone. After 45mins, we arrived near the glacier and stopped at a beach for a rest. I looked so unglam, my hair was plastered on my face because of the rain and my arm was sore from all the rowing. But know what? I had so much fun! And so did the husband, most likely because he has never seen his wife look like this before! Btw, we rowed another 45mins to get back!