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  • Writer's pictureNicole Grant

Top Glaciers for your Alaskan Cruise Bucket List


What is it about the glaciers of Alaska that lure cruisers all over the globe? Maybe it’s the sight of such a large landmass in person. Maybe it’s the chill of the air that makes Christmastime feel even more spirited. Or, the summer sightings of humpback whales? Let’s explore four of the top glaciers to see while cruising Alaska (in random order).


1. Because of its rapid advancement toward the Gulf of Alaska and into enchanting Disenchantment Bay, east Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier has been nicknamed the “Galloping Glacier.” It’s been moving so quickly that intense water pressure building inside this “fjord-turned-lake” has caused explosions through the wall of ice. Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America, measuring 1,200 feet deep and 76 miles long. As your cruise ship gets near, the surface is what truly causes an impression. Its 40-story height makes even the largest cruise ships feel like dwarves. You’ll be mesmerized as icebergs the size of 10-story buildings fall into the water below. Look at harbor seals, otters, seabirds, brown bears, moose, and even black-tailed deer as they roam the shore. This part of the “Last Frontier” is sure to leave you speechless.


2. Mendenhall Glacier dazzles some of the most beautiful shades of blue, creating incredible photograph opportunities. These brilliant blue colors form when long wavelengths become trapped when traveling through the ice. The ice, itself, absorbs these long wavelengths and only blue shines forth. This typically occurs in relatively pure ice that does not contain a lot of air bubbles, and the color changes depending on the ice’s actual thickness. When sunlight melts the ice, the colors start to vary, making each visit to this glacier fresh and exciting!


3. Just west of Juneau lies Glacier Bay Park and Preserve, which displays some of the most spectacular tidewater glaciers on the globe. This national treasure is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and while cruising this area, friendly Park Rangers will even come aboard to share their knowledge and host family-fun activities. You’ll have another chance to identify some of Alaska’s plentiful wildlife. This go-round, you may be able to see porpoises, black bears, mountain goats, and bald eagles. Cruising along emerald waters will make for an unforgettable day.


4. In Whittier, Alaska, not too far outside of Anchorage, you’ll find Portage Glacier, one of Alaska’s most popular and exciting attractions. Portage, a former village, has basically turned into a ghost town, but Portage Glacier is what invites visitors. Just off the scenic Seward Highway, is stunning Portage Valley. The area gives access to superb hiking and biking trails, more wildlife views, and camping. Located in the Chugach National Forest, Portage Glacier Road winds approximately five miles and ends at Begich Boggs Visitor Center. At this informative center, you can engage in simulated ice cave exhibits, view live ice worms, and even touch an iceberg! And, if you want to get super close to the glacier, you can always take an hour-long narrated boat tour on Portage Lake.


These are just a few of Alaska’s most impressive glaciers. When you’re ready to schedule your next Alaskan Cruise, be sure to have your travel designer pencil in some time to discover one (or all) of these incredible ice structures.

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