Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook
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Tracy Arm, Alaska
Tracy Arm, Alaska
Just 40 mi./64 km. south of Juneau, the Tracy Arm Fjord does resemble an arm with bent elbow. The sea reaches 23 mi./37 km. inland, from Stephens Passage to the fjord’s end at the Sawyer Glacier. Steep, ice-polished granite walls plunge into 1,000 ft./305 m. deep waters that are tinted a vivid blue-green by suspended minerals, the passage often little more than .5 mi./.8 km wide. The softly rounded shapes of the gorge and its surrounding mountains resemble California’s Yosemite and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, with just a few jagged peaks tall enough to escape the glacial grindstone. Elevations are deceptive—the fjord walls rise between 2,000 and 3,000 feet (600 and 900 m.) and nearby peaks may be 5,500 ft. (1,600 m.) or more. Only when you see another Panamax-sized cruise ship pass by, resembling a tiny toy boat at the bottom of a near-empty bathtub, may you get a true sense of scale.
You may want to start your day before sunrise, as those first magical hours of daylight can be superb, both in the open waters of Stephens Passage and as you enter Tracy Arm; just be sure to dress warmly! The cruise line provides narration by an expert guide via the ship’s public address system, and interpretive talks and films are available indoors. One thing that cannot be promised is a view of the Sawyer Glaciers. Floating ice may be too thick to allow a close approach, and even a distant glimpse may be impossible if you can’t pass the last bends in the channel. That was the case on our research trip, but the visit was still glorious. There’s much to be said for viewing your passage from the bow of the ship, but the Wonder doesn’t provide a lot of forward observation space. Expect the Outlook Lounge and the Wide World of Sports Deck to be packed. Joggers on the Vista Spa’s treadmills should get a real eyeful!
Top Photo Slice: (℗ 31589) Photo contributed by © chezp
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