Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier – Alaska Day 5

This morning we woke up bright and early for the scenery highlight of the cruise; Tracy Arm Fjord. We had been hearing about the beautiful Fjord ever since we first boarded the ship, and it did not disappoint.

The Tracy Arm Fjord was a very narrow passageway that was carved out by a glacier. Since it was carved out by a glacier, the Fjord was over 1000 feet deep, which allowed our ship to navigate the passages with no concerns of being in too shallow of waters. We were immediately greeted by some bright blue ice chunks. I can’t do them justice, so make sure to look at the photos throughout this post.

We sat out on our balcony and watched as the ship passed through the Fjord. It was freezing! However, the views were too great to pass up, so we ended up sitting on the balcony for several hours as we soaked in the beautiful scenery.

Our passage into the Tracy Arm Fjord was narrated by the Alaskan naturalist that I mentioned on my day 1 diary. I just looked it up, and his name is Michael Modzelewski. He started talked to us both on the ships outdoor speakers as well as the television in our room, which we had at full blast. It was nice having him narrate what we were seeing, because it allowed us to be prepared to see the sights as we moved past them.

I was really impressed with the information that Modzelewski told us that morning, as well as at other points during the trip. He really knew quite a bit about his surroundings, always had great anecdotes about his experiences, and tied his points together effortlessly using quotes from great literary works (Henry David Thoreau comes to mind.) *Side note* I tried reading “Walden” by Thoreau when I was in 11th grade, but my reading disability got in the way. I have all but overcome my reading problems as an adult and thought I’d give it a try, so I picked it up for like $5.95 on I love that site! *End Side Note*

Michael narrated us through the Fjord and pointed out various pieces of wildlife on both sides. One of the highlights was seeing a pair of bald eagles perched atop an iceberg, waiting for their next catch (if you look at the photo below at a higher resolution, you can see the Eagles on the top of the iceberg). There were also some seals within sight range, but we were unable to see them from our vantage point.

Eventually we navigated to the 23 mile mark of the Fjord, and came across a breathtaking sight; the Sawyer glacier. This was an amazing sight and clearly the highlight of the “cruise” portion of the trip (shore excursions excluded). What made it even more impressive was the sense of exclusivity we gained in our voyage. We learned that the week before our trip, the Golden Princess tried to navigate the Tracy Arm Fjord and only got to the 7 mile mark! Those unfortunate cruisers didn’t get to see nearly as many beautiful sights as we did!

I gained another sense of exclusivity later when we learned that in order to visit this deep in the Fjord, we needed to have a special Alaskan ship pilot flown in to navigate the tight spaces. The pilot has been bringing ships into Alaskan waters for over 30 years, and he said that this was one of his “top 5” views that he had ever seen! That really made us feel good about our cruise choice.

Lastly, we learned that Princess cruises (our cruise line) is the only company brave enough to take their cruise ships deep into the Fjord’s. Once we heard all of that we felt like royalty… and I have the photos to prove it!

Bragging aside, this was really one of the coolest experiences that I have ever had. Navigating through a narrow Fjord in a cruise ship through fields of bright blue icebergs in order to see a glacier? It doesn’t get much better than that!

I was also impressed by the maneuverability of such a large ship. Once we reached the glacier at the end of the Fjord, there was nowhere to go but backward. In order to make sure that everyone had a good view of the glacier, the ship’s captain actually turned the ship around in a 360 degree rotation so that everyone had a great view! The side thrusters on the ship make it possible to turn around without going forward or backward. Quite nimble for such a big ship. (That’s also a metaphor for my love life. You do the math.)

As soon as everyone got a good view of the glacier, the ship was turned around, and we made our way back out to the ocean. The route back through the Fjord was the same as the way in, but this time we got to view the other side of the ship. It was nice to see the other side of the massive Fjord, as it offered many more beautiful views. Man I have used the term Fjord a lot in this post.

The trip to Sawyer Glacier took most of the morning, and by the time we left the Fjord, dad and I were pretty hungry. We tried to order room service, but they were too busy to take our order (everyone else had the same idea). We ended up not even eating lunch that day.

The rest of the afternoon, I spent hanging around the stateroom. I downloaded all of the still photos we took from earlier in the day, wrote the blogs from the first few days and caught up on reading. I was reading a book called “More Sex is Safer Sex” and it was enjoyable. It’s not nearly as controversial as it sounds, but I agree with the title. BOOYA! The sub tagline really describes the purpose of the book “The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics.” It’s worth reading if you want to hear some fun opinions from an economist and don’t get offended easily.

Then I got the urge to gamble. I was seriously doing so good on this trip that I felt like I was invincible. I had to see if my method really worked, or if it was just a fluke of luck. Since I was up around $600 at this point, I decided to up my stakes in progressive betting. This time I did progressive betting starting at $10 a hand.

I lost $280 in about 30 minutes.

Just as I was about to leave the table ($300 was my limit. Quite the change from my $40 limit the first day! Amazing how you get desensitized while gambling), I hit a winning streak and started to earn my money back.

I started winning and winning and winning. Soon I had turned that -$280 into a positive gain. Then I was ahead. Then I looked down and I had $575 in chips!

I cashed out for $550 of those chips and took the last $25 chip and decided to “let it ride” on the table. First hand: win. Bet $50 and won again. Bet another $50, and got another win. Walked away from the table with $700 in chips.

I decided I needed a break to soak it all in. I went up to the room to brag to my dad about my good fortune. He wasn’t there, so I left him a note telling him to meet me in the casino and then we’d go for a drink. About 10 minutes later he came down and we went to get some some Martinis!

I bought a few rounds of drinks for us, and then we went back to the room for our regular happy hour. Then we went to dinner and had some wine to go along with it. When all was said and done, I was feeling pretty good!

We went to see the entertainment for the night, which was a magician by the name of Gaetano. This dude was a decent showman, but his act was soooo cheesy and stuck in the 80’s. His magic was pretty good, but he was just so cheez! The whole time all I could think about was gambling some more to see how much I could stretch out my luck streak!

That’s the big problem with gambling. Once you start doing well, you get to feel unbeatable and want to test the boundaries. Since I was playing with the house’s money, I felt I had nothing to lose. I’m not used to winning so much, so I guess I just had to see how it would go. Turns out that I should have stopped when I was up $400 for the day.

I ended up playing quite a bit of Black Jack that night, and my luck was definitely not there. Even though it didn’t seem like I was losing a lot, my new method of progressive betting with $10 ended up bleeding away much of my winnings. Combine that with me being a little “tipsy” from the previous festivities, and I ended up dropping $330 of those winnings at the table. I was still up $70 for the day, but in retrospect, I obviously should have quit while I was at my peak. Hindsight is 20/20.

That was about it that night. 5 nights on this cruise ship so far and I really am enjoying everything that Alaska and the Golden Princess have to offer!

View my Tracy Arm Fjord/Sawyer Glacier photos on Facebook

About Jeff Sauer

I started blogging in the year 2000, and go in spurts of inspiration followed by long dormancy. I love writing, and your comments keep me going, so comment!

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  1. Those glaciers are gorgeous! Seriously, I had a student who did his big project on glaciers this year and we didn’t find photos this good anywhere on the internet!
    Your cruise sounds like such an amazing time!