The opportunity to witness towering glaciers up close is one of the main reasons travelers choose to book a cruise to Alaska. Aside from enjoying spectacular landscapes and seeing diverse wildlife, coming face to face with these icy natural wonders is a thrilling and often unforgettable experience.
Luckily, Celebrity Cruises offers travelers the chance to visit three different iconic glacier destinations during a cruise through Alaska: Hubbard Glacier, Dawes Glacier, and Glacier Bay.
Hubbard Glacier vs. Glacier Bay
Hubbard Glacier is the longest tidewater glacier in North America. Roughly 76 miles long and as tall as a 30-story building, Hubbard Glacier is as large as the state of Rhode Island and is the biggest glacier you can see from a cruise ship.
Hubbard Glacier also has the distinction of being one of the most active glaciers in Alaska. Known as the “Galloping Glacier,” Hubbard is quickly advancing towards the Gulf of Alaska at a rate of about 80 feet per year.
Its fast movement leads to large sections of ice breaking off and falling into the sea (a phenomenon known as calving) occurring about every fifteen minutes or so. If you cruise to Hubbard Glacier, you can rest assured you’ll witness the spectacular scene of a multi-story chunk of ice falling into the ocean during your vacation.
The journey to Hubbard Glacier is also a unique trip on its own, since sailing through Disenchantment Bay towards the glacier includes views of five of the ten tallest mountain peaks in North America. These are magnificent backdrops you won’t be able to see anywhere else.
In Glacier Bay National Park, you can spot marine wildlife, floating icebergs, and eight large glaciers. However, since more than 60 miles of ice have already melted in Glacier Bay, most of the glaciers there are considered “hanging glaciers,” which means they have receded back into the mountains and there is now a much smaller chance of them calving.
While Celebrity Cruises doesn’t sail directly to Glacier Bay, there are flightseeing excursions available from Icy Strait Point. From there, you can board a fixed-wing plane and soar over the massive national park, where you’ll witness glaciers and animals from a first-class viewpoint from up above.
Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier vs. Glacier Bay
Sailing through the 30-mile long Endicott Arm Fjord, travelers will witness a frozen wonderland full of granite cliffs, verdant valleys, and several gushing waterfalls. Sitting at the southern edge of Fords Terror Wilderness area, a trip through Endicott Arm Fjord offers plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife in action, with bald eagles, harbor seals, moose, and bears regularly seen throughout the journey.
Once you reach the end of Endicott Arm Fjord, you’ll come face to face with Dawes Glacier, a 600-foot-tall and mile-wide active icecap that produces daily displays of calving, giving visitors the opportunity to hear the “white thunder” sound that is produced when a large chunk of ice splashes into the water.
If you choose to book a flightseeing excursion to Glacier Bay, you’ll be able to see up to eight glaciers from above, including Margerie and John Hopkins Glacier, all in the same day.
Therefore, if you’re considering a cruise to Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier versus taking an excursion to Glacier Bay, know that both destinations are one of a kind. If you visit Glacier Bay on a flightseeing excursion, you’ll get to see a bit of everything—wildlife, icebergs, multiple glaciers, and the beauty of the Alaskan landscape—all in one place.
However, if you want to check a calving display off your bucket list, then you can opt for a cruise to Endicott Arm Fjord and Dawes Glacier, where you’ll have a better chance of witnessing this dramatic scene in action.
Hubbard Glacier vs. Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier
Hubbard Glacier and Dawes Glacier are similar to each other since they are both large, active tidewater glaciers that have regular calving displays. However, there are some small differentiating details you might want to consider before booking a cruise that includes stops in either destination.
Endicott Arm is a great place to spot wildlife in action, as it’s one of the world’s largest breeding sites for harbor seals, so you’re guaranteed to see your fair share of animals during your cruise there.
Also, aside from its show-stopping visit to Dawes Glacier, a trip to Endicott Arm also offers views of other natural wonders along the way, including waterfalls, granite cliffs, and floating icebergs.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a massive calving display, then you can’t go wrong by booking a cruise to Hubbard Glacier. As the largest active glacier in North America—it’s over 76 miles long and 600 feet tall—Hubbard Glacier offers an unforgettable chance to witness this icy natural phenomenon in action.
Are you ready to book your Alaska cruise and see these iconic glaciers and fjords up close? Browse Alaska cruise itineraries online or speak with your travel agent and start planning your dream vacation to the Last Frontier. Keep in mind, due to the limited length of the Alaska cruise season (May through September), popular sailing dates and the best staterooms can sell out quickly, so don’t delay.