Category Archives: Glacier Bay NP&P AK


Note:  This is the 8th of 16 posts about our 21-day trip that included a 17-day (16-night) cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship SPIRIT from Vancouver, British Columbia to Honolulu, Oahu.  This post has 23 photographs with captions and some narrative.  All photos taken by me (Bruce) with a SONY alpha 6400 or Google Pixel 6 Pro unless otherwise indicated.  (Photos by Linda taken with a Google Pixel 6.)


SUNDAY 03 September 2023 — (T8,C5) Juneau (AK); Glaciers, Gardens, and Hatcheries

This was day 8 of our travels and day 5 of the cruise.  We signed up for a shore excursion to that included the Mendenhall Glacier, Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure (GGRA) (a private botanical garden and Yard Doctor Nursery), and the Macauley Salmon Hatchery.  The shore excursion started early and took most of the morning.

The Mendenhall Glacier is located in the Tongass National Forest.  Access is controlled and limited and, for whatever reason, our tour bus did have access today, so we only got to see the glacier from a distance.  Disappointing, certainly, but not the end of the world as we had just seen Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve yesterday.  We returned to the dock by noon and then walked around downtown Juneau, which is Alaska’s state capital.


Our tour bus stopped at a parking area that allowed us to walk north along a trail on the west side of the Mendenhall River, where I spotted this flower.


A stretch of the Mendenhall River, flowing strongly.  The Mendenhall Glacier is visible center frame just above the trees.  (Photo by Linda)


Glacier Gardens (GGRA) is known for their “upside down” trees.  Steve and Cindy Bowhay created this place, with the Rainforest Adventure opening in 1998.  Located within the Tongass National Forest, GGRA is a temperate rainforest environment.  The upside-down trees are just that; the lower portion of large trees and their root ball, inverted and stuck in the ground.  The top of the root ball is then used as a planter.  They are unique and delightful, with a wonderful variety of flowers and shrubs.


The GGRA Adventure involved climbing a small mountain through a dense forest in open-sided vehicles (shown later).  The road is constructed of logs in many places, with no shoulder and steep drop-offs in places.  There is a log curb, however, as shown in this photo, and our driver seemed to take safety seriously.  (Photo by Linda)


Another view of the road as seen from below.  The GGRA gardens were beautiful, and the views from the summit outstanding, but the road was an attraction in its own right, at least for those who are curious about such things (like me).  (Photo by Linda)


A view to the west (I think) from the summit of GGRA.  (Photo by Linda)


The extended wheelbase “vans” used to transport guests on the road to/from the summit of GGRA.


A small waterfall/feature at GGRA.  (Photo by Linda)


This planting bed at GGR caught our eyes.


A closer view of an interesting plant at GGRA.


Proof that I was here at GGRA.  (Photo by Linda)


Proof that Linda was also here at GGRA.  (Photo by Bruce using Linda’s Pixel 6.)


The landscaping at GGRA really was something.  This cascading stream looked very natural.  Glacier Gardens is not just a tourist attraction; is also a nursery and landscaping service for the greater Juneau area.


Our shore excursion concluded with a stop at the Macauley Salmon Hatchery (MSH), located northwest of Juneau on the Gastineau Channel.  Fishing in general, and salmon in particular, is a big industry in Alaska, of course, and there are many hatcheries and processing plants in the state.  The MSH is a working facility that is also open to the public for tours.  It was a great way to end our shore excursion.


The salmon run at MSH looking northwest.  The Gastineau Channel is to the left.  The tide was out and the water level was very low.


There were quite a variety of fish and crustaceans in the tanks at MSH.  I selected this photo because I thought it was an interesting composition.


The official (?) “Welcome to Juneau” sign.  We had, in fact, felt very welcomed everywhere we had been on this trip thus far.  (Photo by Linda)


We were not looking for it, but managed to stumble across the City Hall building for the “City and Borough” of Juneau.  The distinction must be important or the sign would not have mentioned it.  I wonder if the locals divide up into “townies” and “boroughies”?  And I wonder if “boroughies” is even a word?  (MS Word spell check doesn’t think so.)


I don’t recall what the significance of this building was, if indeed it had any special significance.  I photographed it because I liked its design and materials, and it had a cool totem pole.


This statue was in the plaza that is part of the State Capital complex, which included the Capitol, of course.  When I think of Alaska I think of many things, but especially Bald Eagles, Grizzly Bears, and Salmon.  This statue had two of those three, so …


We took this to be the main food/shopping street in Juneau, or at least typical of the retail sector in town.  Some of the shops and eateries might have been a bit more upscale, but not all of them, and the look/feel of the place was still very much coastal Alaska.  (Note:  The timestamp on this photo matches the time on the clock in the photo.  I love it when that happens.)


Like all of the coastal cites we visited, Juneau occupies land between the water and steep, high terrain.  Much of the city is built on the lower, flatter areas, when possible, but the land rises quickly and steeply as you move away from the water, and we saw plenty of structures up on the slopes that appeared to be mostly residences.  This staircase is very steep and long, and leads up to a building at the top that might be visible in this photograph.  (Photo by Linda)


Linda relaxes in our stateroom after spending the better part of 5+ hours ashore.  The ship in the background is the Seven Seas Explorer from the Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line.  It is one of their two new Explorer Class ships, the other being the Seven Seas Splendor.  ALL staterooms on ALL Regent Seven Seas ships are “suites” and come with butler service.  Regent Seven Seas offers a luxury cruise experience and tends to be more inclusive than most other lines, but with a fare to match.  In spite of being upscale, it is our understanding that these ships are quite relaxed, with freestyle dining, for instance.  They also tend to be mostly adult oriented, lacking some of the “entertainment” attractions on more family and “younger cruiser”-oriented lines.  I think we would enjoy this (or a similar) cruise line, if not for the cost.  (Winning a big lottery might chance that equation.)


Note:  This is the 7th of 16 posts about our 20-day trip that included a 16-night cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship SPIRIT from Vancouver, British Columbia north along the inside passage to Sitka, Alaska, and then across the North Pacific Ocean to the Hawaiian Islands, before ending in Honolulu, Oahu.  This post has 10 photographs with captions and some narrative.  Photos by me (Bruce) taken with SONY alpha 6400 or Google Pixel 6 Pro unless otherwise indicated.  (Photos by Linda taken with Google Pixel 6.)


SATURDAY 02 September 2023 — (T7,C4) Cruising Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, Alaska

This was day 7 of our travels and day 4 of the cruise.  Our destination for today was Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (GBNP&P).  We had an early departure from the port at Ketchikan yesterday, as it was a long sail from there to the Bay and our itinerary was planned to give us as much sailing time in the Bay as possible.  We anticipated that this would be one of the scenic highlights of our entire trip, and it was, in spite of less-than-ideal weather conditions.  The weather also made photography a bit more challenging, but I think we did okay.

Glacier Bay is a National Park & Preserve, so ships (cruise and otherwise) cannot just sail in as they please.  Access is controlled and cruise ships, in particular, have to book entrance for their itineraries well in advance.  They also have to stop near the entrance of the Bay and pick up a National Park Service Ranger/Historian, who remains on-board until the ship leaves the boundaries of the park/preserve.  The Park employee does double duty, both explaining on the P.A. system what the passengers are seeing, as well as (I suspect) “advising” the Captain about conditions in the Park so no harm comes to the ship or the Park.  Not a harbor pilot, of course, but an official Park presence for sure.  The Park employee is returned to their base as the ship exits the Park.


Our first large glacier appears on the port (left) side of the ship as it works its way north into Glacier Bay.  (Photo by Linda.)


Our APA and AMA “proof we were here photo for GBNP&P.  (Photo by Bruce using Linda’s phone.)


There were great views in every direction all of the time.  This photo is looking forward from the forward lounge.  The large glass windows distort the exposure and color.  I’ve corrected it as best I can.  (This image is 1200×675 pixels.  Clicking on it will display it full-resolution on a device with a sufficient screen resolution.)


The exposure on this photo was so bad I could not correct it.  I wanted to use it as it’s a nice shot of Linda and shows the forward observation lounge.  I adjusted it to make it “artsy.”


This is the same basic view as the previous two photos with an attempt at natural color corrections.  Some of the forward observation lounge windows are visible along with a few passengers for scale.


Winding our way around headlands as we sailed deeper into the Bay was exciting as we (literally) never knew what was around the next corner (even though we had a map of GBNP&P).  (Photo by Linda.)


Linda caught an especially nice photo of this headland with higher mountains behind.  I think this photo captures just how rugged GBNP&P is.  (Photo by Linda.)


The end of the Bay, ABIR.  The day started out overcast and grey, with weak light.  By later in the afternoon, the clouds had opened up a bit to let in light and reveal blue skies.  (This image is 1080×608 pixels, and can be displayed at full-resolution on an appropriate device by clicking on the image.)


Linda on the pool deck (13, ABIR) with mountains looming in the background, relatively close to the ship.  The experience of seeing the Park from a cruise ship was grand.


The land comes down to meet the sea as we sail south out of GBNP&P.  I liked the way this green island stood out against the somewhat monochromatic mountains and clouds.  (This image is 1200×628 pixels.  You know what to do.)