Glaciers in Alaska

Day Two of our cruise and two pictures tell the story. The first is taken about 10 am and shows the fog which has enclosed the good ship ms Oosterdam with no one on deck. Overnight we sailed north up the Inside Passage and many passengers left the dining room super quickly due to the rough conditions. Whilst it was indeed far from smooth your trusty correspondent managed to hang tough and enjoy a delicious meal in the Vista Dining Room. This morning we woke to total fog cover – and could well have been sailing anywhere. We were told conditions would calm down as we moved into Tracy Arm, a fjord about 50 miles south of Alaska’s capital, Juneau. And lo and behold, right on schedule at 3pm, the fog lifted, the sun broke through and the waters sparkled deep blue, then emerald. The fjord is described as a ‘lesson in geology and the forces that shape Alaska’ and that may well be true. To either side of us are massive prehistoric mountains, covered with deep green foliage, iced with snow. 

Glaciers in Alaska

We take our time moving slowly between these deep ravines, noting small ice floes and even a tiny fishing boat as we head toward the Sawyer Glaciers at the far end. Many times during the year too much ice is shed to make navigation safe, but today we are in luck and our captain Arjen C. van der Loo takes us up close and personal. We view this majestic blue glacier from the bow of the Promenade Deck, wrapped in red tartan rugs and sipping pea soup which is handed around by the ever-obliging Holland America staff. It is about 11 degrees Celsius with a light breeze. It takes two hours to travel the length of the fjord and about 20 minutes to turn the ship around and head slowly back to sea. Happily, our cabin is in the stern of the ship and we get to watch the Sawyer Glacier slowly recede in the afternoon sun from the comfort of our own verandah. If it is true that 8/9ths of an iceberg are underwater, then our crew are very skilled indeed as lots of small icebergs are bobbing in the water around the ship as it sails in this narrow waterway. Tomorrow we are docking very early in Juneau so it’s an early night in anticipation of our on shore adventures.

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