Soon chunks of ice obscured the water
We spent the next day at sea, no ports on the itinerary and we were scheduled to disembark in Seward
the following day, docking before dawn. It was a day to relax, enjoy the ship’s amenities and cruise the Yukatat Bay. We had whale watching and glacier viewing on our agenda.
After breakfast and gathering all of our camera equipment, we headed out to the deck to grab some seating. It was probably our chilliest day at sea, quite windy. The ship proceeded through Yukatat Bay and proceeded into Disenchantment Bay, named thusly as an 18th century explorer was once disappointed to find that it was in fact NOT the entrance to the mythical Northwest Passage. He found himself surrounded by ice chunks and blocked by the face of the Hubbard Glacier, similar to the situation in which the ms Veendam now was.
Approaching Hubbard Glacier, another cruise ship gives us a sense of scale through the fog
The captain continued to warn us that we may not be able to get as close to the glacier as desired due to the ice blockages in the passage but eventually we had a great view of the entrance to the Hubbard Glacier, a 76 mile long glacier which stretched both through Alaska and into the Yukon Territory of Canada.
Just as the bay had choked up with ice, it quickly relented its grip and we found ourselves in calm, open water. The captain remarked that in his 20 years of experience he’s never been able to get this close to the glacier. This doubled the excitement in the air, like we were privy to a secret or getting away with playing a trick on mother nature herself.
It was remarkable, the ‘foot’ of the glacier being 8 miles wide. The calves we saw sliding off in chunks off the face were actually the size of 10-story tall buildings, the sound the calving made was impressive. Again we could see the crystallized bright blue across the face of the ice, beautiful.
Crystal Blue Face of Hubbard Glacier
At the face of the glacier, most of the ice is actually below the waterline, so our captain explained we had to be careful not to get too close to the shore as calving also took place below the water. Calves could shoot up from below at any moment. He also informed us that the ice we were seeing could possibly be over 400 years old, as it would take that long for the ice to travel the length of a glacier this size.
Hubbard Glacier: very humbling, very powerful.