Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Legendary Trip North to Alaska- Glacier Cruising

10 Year Anniversary Cruise 2016- Carnival Legend

Ice, Ice Baby
Glacier Cruising
Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wow... what an amazing day of cruising in and through Alaska. We were able to see mountains, glaciers, icebergs, countless waterfalls and even witness caving at the Dawes glacier. I've always been thrilled with beauty of the earth and God's work but Alaska left me in complete awe and amazement of what all He has done. This day was one of the best days of our lives and we didn't want to leave. 

We woke up from a good night's sleep to the beautiful snow-capped mountains of Alaska. We both headed towards the sports deck to jog a mile IN ALASKA! The sights were absolutely incredible and let me just say that I could jog countless miles everyday if I could run alongside these mountains in these wonderful temperatures of 50*. 
My 1st view of ALASKA! It left me speechless! 

The view of my morning jog!

Another view of Alaska from our aft balcony! 

We are LOVING it already! 

A cute little wilderness island in Alaska on our way to the fjord! 

Good morning from ALASKA!

After we finished jogging we went to the Main Dining Room for another chance at the SeaDay brunch. Unfortunately, the service did not get any better and we were stuck inside the dining room while we were cruising by gorgeous mountains and glaciers for well over an hour for just a decent omelet and waffles. After we finished breakfast we hurried back to our balcony while we heard the naturalist tell us about Stephen's Passage and the probability of seeing whales. We had already seen 8 humpbacks the night before but we both had a feeling this would be a good day as the weather was just perfect. 

One of my favorite picrtures of the entire trip! Just breathtaking! 

Congrats to us on 10 years of wedded bliss! 

As we sailed in Stephen's Passage we saw 27 more humpback whales, several harbor seals and even an orca (killer whale). They ranged from 100 to 800 yards away from the ship and most of them blew several times and eventually gave us a wave goodbye with their tale. The entire aft of the ship were looking from their balconies and "oooo" and "awe"-ing in unison. The weather was perfect and the sun was out. In fact, it got hot throughout the day and Chris and I even began to sunburn traveling along the fjord! It was an awesome morning and one I will truly never forget. 

I love this sight! 

These blows were so magical and even at 300 yards away you can still hear them and almost feel them! It was just AWESOME! 

The hump on their backs is fascinating! 

Our first wave of the day! 

And they just kept waving! 

Love this! 

More sightings! 

2 whales traveling together!
We didn't even realize we had 2 until we got home and edited the pictures! 

We spotted our 1st iceberg just inside the Endicott fjord.

The killer whale Chris spotted. 

We only spotted one but it is clearly an orca! 

TIP- Be sure to bring good binoculars with you on this trip. The ship sells them in the photo department but the cheapest they sold on our sailing was $69.95 and they were not near as good as the ones we brought. In fact, if you have more than 1 pair it would be best so you and your cabin mates don't have to share! Spotting these whales was just incredible and I would hate for anyone to miss because it wasn't "their turn" with the binoculars! 

After a morning of wildlife spotting we decided that is was a good idea to stay in our room as to not miss another whale spotting or anything else, so we ordered room service. We had not done this on a Carnival ship since the Conquest in 2013 and it was a major let-down. We ordered sandwiches and they were barely edible and not filling. The Carnival Legend did offer the "for a fee" menu which featured boneless wings, burgers and fries but we did not want to spend the extra money. However, the food did attract several VERY large horse flies. They kept flying all around us and it became annoying so Chris started to swat them as us and our neighbors had a good laugh. We left to go to the front of the ship and get away from the flies but as we got to the front we saw the flies there too and several small boys swatting them as Chris was.
This will always bring back hilarious memories! 

The scenery was gorgeous as we entered the Endicott fjord and there were plenty of spots along the deck (on the sides and in the front) to view the cruising of the glaciers. 

Another beautiful iceberg inside the fjord. 

A hanging glacier just at the entrance of the fjord.

The small boat that would take us on the "Glacier Explorer" excursion. They were picking up the 1st round of passengers. 

It doesn't get much better than this! 

Another hanging glacier! 

More icebergs! 

The deck of the Legend as we were cruising the glacier.
Notice- plenty of chairs and oddly enough people sunbathing! 

A view of the fjord from the front of the ship! 

The Carnival Legend in the Endicott fjord! 

Snow-Capped Mountains! 

A beautiful waterfall... one of perhaps hundreds within the fjord! 

A view from our aft balcony! 

The Holland America Maasdam passing us on it's way out! 

Another ice field on the side of the mountain! 

Harbor seals on the icebergs! 

We sat on our balcony for the rest of the early afternoon as we entered the Endicott Fjord towards the Dawes Glacier. The ship traveled down the fjord towards the glacier for about 3 hours before it stopped about 1.5 miles away from the glacier. During these travels we saw more snow-capped mountains, ice bergs and countless waterfalls in addition to the numerous harbor seals sitting on the icebergs and bald eagles and seagulls. It was stunning and we loved it but as the ship reached the 1.5 mile barrier, we went down to the Firebird lounge where we would meet up for our "Glacier Explorer" private glacier excursion. 

This was labeled as "private" and "small boat" so I assumed not a lot of people but there was easily 300-400 people waiting in the lounge. I began to get worried thinking "I paid $380 for both of us to see this glacier, I hope we can get a spot outside on the boat deck". They split the lounge into 2 and sent us on our way to the gangway. I tried hard to push my way towards the front to insure a seat, which I did, but it turns out that our ship was loaded with people who did not like to get cold as they all fought for the indoor covered seats instead of the open deck. Not us... we went straight to the top. 

Headed to see the glacier! 

A view of the Carnival Legend from our small boat excursion! 

One of my favorite icebergs! 

Our 1st look at the glacier as we were loading the small boat as the ship pulled up to it! 

The Carnival Legend at the Dawes Glacier!

This tour took us all the way to the Dawes glacier and within a few hundred yards from the glacier. We were able to see the ice caving from the glacier several times in addition to the amazing mountains and waterfalls adjacent to the glacier. This was a cold excursion and I was glad to have my coat and earmuffs but this was the only time on the cruise we really NEEDED the coat. Plus... it was WINDY! Be advised to bring a hair clip or hair tie if possible! 

Glacier Boat Hair... DON'T CARE! 

It was WINDY! 

This is one of the MANY reasons we WILL GO BACK! 

I started using my hood as a combat for the wind! 


The best excursion EVER! 

After we crept up to the glacier and inched closer and closer we sat there for nearly an hour just watching the glacier and the ice caving then began our trip back to the ship. We moved very quickly back through the Endicott fjord as we saw bald eagles and seals of all kinds. 

Our 1st Ice Caving 

Much BIGGER Ice Caving HERE

The Dawes Glacier inside the Endicott Fjord. 

A lushious waterfall near the glacier. 

More rocks and cliff near the glacier. 

A whole herd of seals laying on the icebergs. Keep in mind each seal is 300-500 pounds... those icebergs are HUGE! 

A view of the back of the boat as we approached the glacier. 

We were about 500 yards away at this point. 

A closer look at the glacier. 

Right before ice caving. 

The brown on the right represents the melting from 2016 alone! 

Ice caving. 

Time to leave the glacier.... SAD DAY! 

Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle were nearby. 

Lots of birds everywhere! 

Golden Eagle. 

More seals. 

Goodbye glacier! 

We were now as far as the ship was... 1.5 miles out. Again... it is worth the $190! 

The ship leaving the glacier and heading back out the fjord. 

Leaving the glacier to go to back to the ship! 

Then we slowed down to go into an inlet to see a two magnificent waterfalls. I have been to the powerful Niagara Falls but these were different and so peaceful and you could see them all the way up the mountain. As we left the inlet and made our way back to the ship we spotted a grizzly bear walking through a stream looking for food and lots of other wildlife. 

1 of the 2 gorgeous waterfalls in the inlet. 

Hard to see (if at all) but a grizzly bear is walking through the stream inside those 2 tree areas. 

Birds looking for fish. 

We have caught up with our ship! 

Then as we got very close to the ship we spotted more whales. The captain of this excursion also led whale watching excursions in Juneau so they stopped the engines in hopes of the whales swimming closer... And they did! We were able to get within 100 yards of these beasts! It was absolutely incredible and came with the glacier excursion! 
But first... we spotted another whale... or TWO!

This was about 300 yards away! 

This was the second one we spotted. 

After turning off the engine and waiting a little while this ginormous beauty swam right beside the boat. 

This was less than 100 yards away and absolutely stunning! 

She waved her tail and then went under and came back up again! 

TIP- NOAA regulations only allow boats to get within 100 yards of the whales because any closer than that the whales (wildlife) start to change their behavior. The captain of this "Glacier Explorer" excursion told us this was even closer than 100 yards and any whale watching excursion we would take in Juneau would not get this close. This was INCREDIBLE! 

We got back to the ship after 7PM and after dropping off our excursion supplies we immediately went to dinner. While the service was still lacking and slow, we didn't even realize it because we were too busy reliving that excursion. Once again, it is well worth your $190 and I feel like everyone should go! Even if you have to get an inside cabin to pay for this excursion... It's THAT good! This itinerary can be done on an inside as I mentioned before but this excursion is a MUST! 

We were able to use our $25 wine card at dinner and we were able to celebrate our anniversary with a very good bottle of wine for only $9. The service was sub-par as expected but the discounted wine made it all better. 

After dinner we went to the Playlist Production of "The Brits", a show about the British invasion. We had already seen this show on a previous Carnival cruise and it was wonderful again. Once we got back to our room at nearly 11PM the sun was still up and we could see perfectly. We waited outside on the balcony for over an hour hoping to spot a whale but we didn't so we just went to bed. At this point we had seen 37 humpback whales all together and were more than satisfied with our wildlife spotting. 

This was one of the best days I have ever had while on a cruise and easily the highlight of our trip. God's handiwork was just astonishing and the scenery and sights we saw we will surely never forget. Thank you Lord for this beauty You created and for letting us see it all! 

Stay tuned for Skagway, AK! 

God is good... ALL the time! 

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