After Denali, our itinerary was simple. Go visit an ice cave at Matanuska (Mat-Su) Glacier, then hop on a last minute cruise from Seward, AK to Vancouver, Canada. I managed to find a killer deal for a last minute cruise, which was perfect since we only bought a one way plane ticket to Alaska. The last minute-ness definitely gave me some logistic headaches. It was totally worth it tho!
Walking on Mat-Su Glacier was amazing. I waffled on this for a bit because of the price and time it took to get there (and back). We went with Mica Guides on their advanced ice trek. It wasn’t that physically demanding, although it was a few hours out on the glacier which did get a little tiring. We got to put on crampons, see some really cool glacier features, and walk into and ice cave. Ice caves are fickle things, they come and go, so you never know if you can see one.
After that we drove to Seward, returned the rental car, and got a ride to the port to board the ship. Checking in was a bit of an adventure since they couldn’t find our name on the manifest. A manager was called and we were immediately identified as the “weird people” who booked so last minute. Apparently people don’t usually book cruises this late.
I really wanted get on a boat as it can visit places in Alaska that are hard to get to otherwise, such as Glacier Bay National Park. The cruise also visited Haines, Juneau, and Ketchikan, though I didn’t find these towns as interesting as Glacier Bay NP itself.
The day spent cruising at Glacier Bay NP was impressive, and slightly depressing. We saw a bit of glacier calving (breaking off and falling into water), and people were clapping. I couldn’t understand the clapping – the glaciers are mostly retreating (hence calving), why are they happy??? The sound of large chunks of ice falling into ocean is hard to describe.
We also joined a glacier kayaking tour at Juneau. I joked w/ K that we did a trifecta: hiking to the top of a glacier field, walking on top of a glacier with crampons, then kayaking to a glacier. For kayaking, I highly recommend joining a private tour if possible. We were chatting with our kayaking guides, and they told us because of the clientele (usually out of shape), they rarely get close enough to the glacier to get to really see it. We got lucky that we only had one other guy and he was a very experienced kayak-er.
The rest of the cruise was relaxing and I enjoyed it much more than I expected. It was really nice to not have to think as hard about transportation and where to eat. The staff on the boat were super nice and the food was yummy. Plus, we got lucky and saw some faint northern lights and killer sunsets.
After getting to Vancouver, we hopped on a bus to Seattle, visited some friends, and hopped on a plane to be reunited with our car.
Even after three weeks in Alaska I still feel like we barely scratched the surface. Hoping to come back for a longer trip with our own car someday!