Can anyone give me an idea how far we will be from glaciers/wildlife on a typical southbound AK (Glacier Bay/College Fjord) cruise? Close enough to see the calving/wildlife with the naked eye? We're trying to decide how powerful our binoculars will need to be...don't want to lug around large 10x50 if smaller 7x35 will do. If anyone has binocular recommendations that would help too. Thanks.
The ships get close enough to view the glaciers without binoculars. As far as the wildlife, it depends where they are in relation to where you are. I brought a pair of Bausch and Lomb binoculars, 9x22. They are small, lite-weight and worked out just fine. They have a carrying case with a place to slip a belt through, so you can carry them like that or they have a cord you can wear around your neck. We used them a lot and were not disappointed at all. In fact, my husband was amazed they worked so well.
Proximiy to the glaciers is determined to a large extent to the size of the ship
and the weather conditions. In all of our experiences the ship has come very close
to the glaciers and you can see quite easily without binoculars. Viewing wild life
is another "animal" and you will surely need the binocs. After all, the cruise lines
are in business to please passengers and they will make every effort to do that in
"glacier country". Spectacular scenery, never grows old. After four cruises we have
scheduled another next Spring. ENJOY
I do not want to be a "kill-joy" but in the last 4 or 5 years that we have been in Glacier Bay(twice a year and almost always foiur times) we have seen little in the way of wildlife, whales, seals or birds, with or without field glasses. You do not need field glasses to witness the calvings.
We try to take two back to back cruises Vancouver to Sewasrd and Seward to Vancouver early in the season and one late in the season. There used to be a time when we saw hundreds of seals with their pups on ice flows, once in a while a walk or two, sometimes(not in Glacier bay) Orca whales known as killer whales, once in a great we see bald eagles and thousands of birds. We no longer see any of these.
We will be leaving Vancouver on August 10 on the Sea Princess for 14 days. We feel these large passenger cruise ships may be part of the problem. In the old days, we used to transit the
Inland Waterway and Glacier Bay on smaller ships like the Island Princess & Pacific Princess 760 passengers and Holland American ships-1250 passengers. When U.S.Senator Frank Murkowski(Alaska) got the Park Service to open up Glacier Bay
to more cruise ships, that seems to be about the time we witnessed few wildlife.
Despite what I write, you will enjoy Alaska. There are two areas we never tire of, Alaska and the Panama Canal. I recommend
taking field glasses since there is a lot more to see than Glacier Bay.
You get close enough to see glaciers without binoculars BUT- it will be enhancing to view the glacier with binoculars. Out of 9 trips, I now always take my wide angle 10x50, anything larger narrows the field of views. There is little wildlife in Glacier Bay and always- dots if it is seen- land animals. Whales do not go far into the bay and binoculars are definately needed for viewing whales but WIDE ANGLE is necessary for any marine wildlife.
In the front of the Hopkins Glacier I have ALWAYS seen seals the last 2 years sailing in Sept- also my second yearly trip. This glacier is "closed" 5 miles out May- August and only Sept sailings are allowed in.
We were in Alaska in mid July. In Glacier Bay, we didn't see much if anything, however 1-2 hours after exiting Glacier Bay we say 10-15 whales.
In College Fjord, we saw a lot of wildlife. Birds, sea otters were everywhere. We saw several seals/sea lions (I could really tell the difference) and I saw at least 5 bears. No whales though. You definitely need powerful binoculars to view the wildlife.
we just got back from taking the Cruise West Explorer's Route Tour and were within .25 of a mile of the Margerie and the South Sawyer Glaciers..
If you can take a small ship cruise, DO IT! There were 84 passengers on our trip and we saw more wildlife than you can shake a stick at. We spent 2-3 hours watching a pod of humpback whales, at one point a female and her calf were 20 yards off our starboard and since the ship is only 3 decks tall, the whale were RIGHT THERE! Amazing!