Take a 26 Glacier Cruise This Fall

Day cruises are a popular way to explore Prince William Sound, especially on a sunny autumn afternoon. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

This is part two of a two-part blog series on behalf of Phillips Cruises and Tours. 

The first time I boarded the M/V Klondike Express for a 26 Glaciers Cruise, I wondered if I’d ever actually get off. I’m a catamaran fan, and the Klondike Express is as classy as they come, with wide booth seats and enormous windows that showcased the stunning scenery outside. The day was bright, Prince William Sound glistened like a thousand diamond rings, and the excited chatter from my fellow passengers made me realize we were in for a treat, indeed. 

The famous 26 Glacier Cruise, operated by Phillips Cruises and Tours is still sailing the sound this fall, up until October 7, actually, and with leaves changing around Southcentral Alaska, this would be a great time to pack up and cruise the 140-mile itinerary before the season officially ends. 

Pulling away for a day on Prince William Sound with Phillips Cruises and Tours. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Depart from Whittier and sail out Passage Canal toward rugged rocky outreaches to spy Steller sea lions hauled out for a break, then take on Esther Passage and the glaciers for which this tour is famous. College Fjord is a litany of men’s and women’s schools you’ll all know — men on the right, women on the left. Look for Bryn Mawr and Smith, or Yale and Harvard, if you please. Along the way, watch for seals, sea otters, and the occasional whale who hasn’t yet left the sound for winter waters. Eagles often soar overhead too, making the experience regal, indeed. 

Harriman Fjord’s icy passage also grants visitors a glacier called ‘Surprise’ and with good reason, for you’ll round a sharp curve and see its fingers stretching toward the water, but not quite getting there. It’s dramatic scenery to happen upon, and I love to watch the faces of eager passengers, especially on a cloudy day when the blue of glacial ice strikes against the pale of the clouds overhead and gray water below. 26 Glacier Cruise ticks off glaciers like clockwork, and it’s fun to follow along with the onboard map and wildlife guides. 

Before returning to port, the Klondike Express catches up with the birds of a local kittiwake rookery, where the last holdouts from summer nesting are still swooping around, teaching the youngsters how to fish. 

Human passengers receive food, too, in the form of a hot lunch so good I ate part of my son’s.  

Phillips Cruises and Tours guests approach Blackstone Glacier on a sunny day cruise. Image courtesy Phillips Cruises and Tours.

A Chugach National Forest Service ranger is on hand during the entire trip to provide narratives relating to the history, geology, and ecology of Prince William Sound’s diverse landscape, and kids will be able to participate in the Junior Ranger program to earn a badge of honor for their educational efforts. 

And, an extra-nice feature is the extra USB ports throughout the ship so passengers can keep those devices charged and ready for photos, social media sharing, and selfies with bergy bits. 

AK Kid shows off an artifact during a Phillips Cruises and Tours trip in 2014. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

The 26 Glacier Cruise departs Whittier daily until October 7, 2017. Be on your way at 12:30 p.m., and return to the dock at 5:30 p.m. in time for dinner in Girdwood or Anchorage

Tickets for the cruise are $159/adult + taxes and fees; and $99/children 2-11 + taxes and fees.* For five hours of sailing bliss during an Alaska autumn, you won’t find a better deal. 

*Phillips Cruises and Tours offers a “No Seasickness” guarantee. 

~EK

 

 

 

Posted in Day Trips, Wildlife/Glacier cruising and tagged , , , , , , , .

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