Cruising Glacier Bay National Park

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Glacier Bay National Park contains 3.5 million acres of forest, inlets, mountain peaks, and beautiful glaciers.

Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park Video


Reid Glacier was the first of many we came across during our day of scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park on our summer Alaskan Cruise with Princess Cruises

Glacier Bay Alaska

Glacier Bay Cruise

We had the pleasure of securing two spots in the adults-only section of the Island Princess known as The Sanctuary! This limited-access area provides paying guests the luxury of having the back of the boat all to themselves. There were no more than 15-20 people in this secluded area.

The Sanctuary Princess Cruises

Complimentary mimosas was just one of the many perks provided to Sanctuary guests.

Cruising Glacier Bay Alaska

Like most other days on our Alaskan Cruise, we had gorgeous weather, which only enhanced the spectacular turquoise color of the glacial waters of Glacier Bay.

Glacier Bay National Park Alaska Glacier Bay Alaska

Everywhere we looked, there was beautifully defined scenery with intense blues and greens!

Glacier Bay National Park

The Sanctuary Princess Cruises Alaskan Cruise

Another perk to booking in The Sanctuary was enjoying a complimentary drink of the day- hot chocolate with Irish cream, chocolate syrup, and fresh whipped cream.

Glacier Bay National Park

Glaciers in Alaska

Margarie Glacier is one of the many highlights of Glacier Bay National Park.

Alaskan Cruise

We spent close to an hour floating in front of the glacier waiting for the ice to calve. Fortunately for us, this particular glacier has one of the state’s most active glacier faces, and we were able to experience the booming cracks as the ice broke off and fell to the sea below.

Glacier Bay Alaska

The glacier is a mile in width. The ice face reaches 250 feet above the waterline…

Glaciers in Alaska

… and the base is about 100 feet below sea level.

While in the Tarr Inlet we also gazed upon the Grand Pacific Glacier (pictured below) which stretches well into Canada.

Grand Pacific Glacier

As we returned back the way we came, we again glided through the glowing azure waters and past remarkable and scenic landscapes.

Glaciers in Glacier Bay Alaska Glacier Bay National Park

Beauty in Alaska

Next, we sailed into John Hopkins Inlet.

John Hopkins Inlet Alaska

Jaw Point Alaska

John Hopkins Glacier is a 12-mile glacier located around the bend at Jaw Point.

Glacier Bay (149)

We passed yet another one of Alaska’s 100,00 glaciers (Lamplugh Glacier) as we continued on our journey out of Glacier Bay.

Lamplugh Glacier Alaska

As I was taking pictures of the glacier, I heard that now-familiar cracking sound and looked over just in time to see part of the glacier calving into the sea.

Ice Calving in Glacier Bay Alaska

In addition to the beautiful landscape and the calving ice, we felt fortunate to see some local wildlife from the cruise ship.

Otter in Alaska

We saw several sea otters (above), and a few beige sea lions sunbathing on a rock (below).

Glacier Bay (195)

Because we had a park ranger on board the ship, we learned a lot that day: how glacier valleys are formed (below), what makes the glaciers appear blue, why they look dirty in parts, and much more.

Glacier Valley in Alaska Glacier Bay National Park

We truly could not have asked for a more beautiful day to cruise Glacier Bay! The scenic cruising near the mouth of the bay reminded me of tropical islands. 

Glacier Bay (200)

This is a vision and experience we will remember for a long time. I can almost guarantee this will not be the only Alaskan Cruise we ever do. We definitely want to come back and experience this beauty again!


  1. We travel to Alaska for our first visit ever in July on Island Princess. For Glacier Bay I am uncertain if to book the Sanctuary as we have a balcony cabin. As you guys have done this, any suggestions would be so appreciated.

    • Hi Kim,
      We absolutely loved our time in the Sanctuary. There were not many people back there, so we felt like we had the back of the ship almost to ourselves. It was relaxing, the views were outstanding, and drinks were readily available. With a balcony you will have great views, but not 360 views like in the Sanctuary. So, it’s just a matter of what experience you want to have and if you’re willing to pay the up charge. I’d say splurge and go for it! 🙂

  2. Thank you for the wonderful information! Did you just book the chairs in the Sanctuary or did you opt for a cabana? I am traveling on the Royal Princess next month to celebrate my 1 year cancer survivorship. I’m not sure which ship you were on, but is the Sanctuary fully enclosed by glass or are there open air sections in the Sanctuary. Thank you for your help!

    • Sorry for not replying sooner! First, CONGRATS on your 1-year anniversary… that is definitely something to celebrate! The Sanctuary on our ship was open air. You paid for admission to the Sanctuary and it was all open from there. A true treat on the back of the boat. Great service, great views… a wonderful time all around.

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