Visiting Hubbard Glacier Updated: 10.01.2017
Glacier viewing at destinations like Hubbard Glacier is a prime reason to cruise in the state of Alaska. And for good reason. A cruise is one of the easiest, and most scenic, ways to explore these giant rivers of ice. Plus it’s one Alaska cruise excursion that’s free. Well, except for the cost of the trip.
While cruising from Vancouver to Singapore on Regent Seven Seas Mariner, Alan and I had the pleasure of spending a sunny, September morning gawking at Hubbard Glacier. To say it was the highlight of our time in Alaska is an understatement. Words and photos will never adequately describe the powerful force that is Hubbard Glacier.
Although Alan arrived in the Observation Lounge before 7 a.m., the prime window seats had already been saved with passengers’ cameras and coats. So we staked out seats in the second row and took turns going out on deck for photos, until it was time to come inside to warm up with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
As Mariner entered Disenchantment Bay, the Elias and Fairweather Mountain Ranges poked their glistening white peaks into a deep blue sky. The bright, morning sun gave an eerie, blue glow to the glacier’s jagged ice formations. And since Mariner was the only ship in the bay, the view belonged totally to us as the captain pirouetted the ship round and round so that all passengers had a spectacular view.
On a cruise in Alaska, ships visit Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier, but not both. Authorities limit cruise ship visits for conservation reasons and to control overcrowding. Although there are 16 glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park, none of them compare to the size of Hubbard Glacier. This baby is a whopper. Check out these statistics: 76 miles long, 7 miles wide and stands 350′ above the water, with 250 ‘ lurking below the waterline.
Alan and I joined the Gold, Platinum and Titanium cruisers (those with many days cruising with Regent) that were invited to an outside area on the 8th deck for a special Hubbard Glacier viewing party. We mixed and mingled with old and new friends as the Mariner staff handed out binoculars, blankets and hot chocolate.
Suddenly, the glacier calved sending a white spray of water high into the air. If there is a nature viewing heaven, we’ve arrived.
Planning a cruise to Alaska? Start your research with our Luxury Cruise Travel Planning Guide.
Hubbard Glacier is currently advancing rather than retreating like many of its Alaska glacial neighbors. According to the National Park Service, the advance is due to global warming which causes more precipitation to fall in the St. Elias Mountains. As the precipitation cools, it turns into snow—the reason for Hubbard Glacier’s advance. And here’s another tidbit of information from the National Park Service that adds historical perspective to what visitor’s see: “The ice you see at the terminal face is approximately 450 years old and is over 2,000 feet thick at some locations.” Wow! No, make that a double wow.
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