No trip to Alaska would be complete without seeing a glacier. Although we didn't opt to do a helicopter tour, where we would have been able to physically stand on a glacier, we did get an up-close view when our ship made a scenic voyage to see the Mendenhall Glacier.
The Mendenhall Glacier is located approximately twelve miles from the state capital of Juneau. Due to climate change, the glacier is retreating, but at the moment it is over thirteen miles long.
Dan and I found a quiet spot on the deck and bundled up. The approach to the glacier was beautiful, but slow. It took several hours and was very cold. If you travel to Alaska, pack gloves and scarves. The closer we got to the glacier, the more we saw floating ice in the water. The small pieces of ice made a fizzing sound, like soda or an Alk-Seltzer tab being dropped into water.
Holland America has a wonderful tradition of serving hot split-pea soup during the glacier viewing. A waiter approached us on the deck and handed us our bowls. The soup was delicious, but the best part was having something warm to hold!
As we approached the Mendenhall Glacier a live narration was piped in all over the ship. The narration was provided by a naturalist who was located in The Crows Nest Lounge ( prime viewing spot if you cared to go there early- inside and warm) and she not only provided facts, but fielded questions from passengers. The narration was interesting at first, but after awhile, it was like listening to Los Angeles newscasters giving a live play-by-play during a car chase. To put it more simply, she ran out of things to say and it would have been nice to have a little quiet.
Looking back on our pictures, I realize that there is no way that the pictures due justice to our experience of the Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier is huge. It's so big, that we began to feel concerned as the ship kept getting closer to it. One of my strongest memories is the sound of cracking ice as large chunks of the glacier calved and fell into the water. It sounded like an earthquake or the sharp crack of lightening. We saw at least a dozen enormous pieces of ice drop into the sea.
Here are the pictures, just magnify it in your mind.
Our stellar experience at the Mendenhall Glacier is one of the primary reasons that we have booked another cruise to Alaska for the summer of 2017. This summer we are taking my step-children who are from Sweden, so that they can also have this amazing experience too.