If you are looking to visit one of the most stunning places on earth then the Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska is a “must visit” to add to your bucket list. Whether cruising solo, as a couple or with the little ones, the turquoise water and the thundering ice will keep you mesmerized for hours.
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The best way to enjoy the beauty of Tracy Arms is by taking an Alaskan Cruise through the Inside Passage. Many cruise itineraries will have Tracy Arms as one of the scenic cruising days and after cruising this fjord, I completely understand why.
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What is Tracy Arm Fjord?
A fjord is a long, deep, narrow body of water which reaches far inland. They are typically located in a U-shape valley surrounded by high, rock walls.
The Tracy Arm Fjord is considered to be one of the most beautiful fjords in the world and it is part of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness which consists of 653,179 acres. There are two deep and narrow fjords located in Tracy Arms-Fords Terror Wilderness; the Tracy Arm Fjord and Endicot Arm. The Tracy Arm Fjord extends 30 miles, providing the cruiser ample opportunity to take in the breath-taking beauty that surrounds the ship as you slowly maneuver your way through the fjord.
Where is Tracy Arm Fjord?
Tracy Arm Fjord is located approximately 50 miles southeast of Juneau, Alaska off of Holkham Bay, and adjacent to Stephen’s Passage.
How Can Tracy Arm Fjord Be Accessed?
You can only access Tracy Arm by boat. Depending on the amount of ice, you may or may not be able to access the fjord by cruise ship. The further into the fjord you get, the icier it becomes, making it difficult for larger ships to navigate. The Twin Sawyer Glaciers, North and South, spanning more than half a mile wide, are located further into Tracy Arm’s. While it is difficult to get up close to these glaciers due to the extensive amount of ice, you are still able to enjoy the sound of the calving ice as it fills the air. If you are cruising on a smaller ship and there isn’t a lot of ice, you may be able to navigate through the narrow passage to get a closer view of the glaciers. When visiting Juneau and you are not on a cruise you are still able to visit Tracy Arms, by booking a tour with Adventure Bound Alaska tours.
Even though the larger cruise ships are unable to get as close to the glacier as the smaller ships, many cruise lines offer “tours” which allow you to get right up close to the glaciers.
You will board the smaller boat right from your cruise ship and paddle your way through the ice chunks to the glacier.
The Twin Sawyer Glacier is the turn around point for the cruise ships which allows the passengers to view both sides of the Fjord right from the comfort of your balcony as the ship cruises down and back.
The Tracy Arm Fjord is one place in Alaska that you definitely won’t want to miss.
What Can You Expect to See When Cruising Tracy Arm’s Fjord
Tracy Arm is a narrow fjord which is lined with weather worn rock covered in ancient moss which forms a wall on either side of the fjord. It would not be uncommon to spot sporadic waterfalls flowing down these walls throughout your journey through Tracy Arms.
The frigid waters of the Tracy Arm Fjord doesn’t make it the ideal spot for whale watching, although if you are lucky you may spot the odd whale while cruising down Tracy Arms. You will likely spot numerous seals sunbathing on a chunk of ice floating down the fjord. The seals prefer to lounge on the blocks of ice to keep themselves safe from whales.
Which Cruise Line is Best for Cruising the Tracy Arms Fjord
Which cruise line you choose for your cruise on the Alaska Inside Passage itinerary is a personal choice. When deciding on the right cruise line for you, it is important to keep in mind that if you want to cruise the Tracy Arm Fjord, smaller ships are more successful and have a better chance of navigating the ice taking you closer to the Sawyer Glacier.
There are several cruise lines that sale Tracy Arms for you to choose from:
Where on the Ship is Best for Viewing
An Alaskan cruise is one cruise itinerary where you definitely might want to consider booking a balcony cabin. While most itineraries don’t offer scenic cruising, the Alaskan Inside Passage, and specifically the cruise through the Tracy Arm Fjord is full of scenery that you won’t want to miss.
If you choose to remain on your balcony while cruising Tracy Arms, you will be given an opportunity to see both sides of the fjord, as the ship does turn around at the Twin Sawyer Glacier and returns through the same passage. For a different perspective, and for a better view when approaching the Twin Sawyer Glaciers, I recommend heading to the top of the ship (hopefully it’s not too crowded).
About the Sawyer Glacier
North Sawyer Glacier
The North Sawyer Glacier begins in the Province of British Columbia in Canada and flows west through the Coast Mountains for 22 miles (35 km) to Tracy Arm, about 78 miles (126 km) north of Petersburg and 53 miles (85 km) southeast of Juneau, Alaska.
South Sawyer Glacier
South Sawyer Glacier also begins in the Province of British Columbia in Canada and flows northwest for 31 miles (50 km) to the head of Tracy Arm, about 73 miles (118 km) north of Petersburg and 56 miles (90 km) southeast of Juneau, Alaska. The glacier was named in 1889 by Commander H.B. Mansfield of the U.S. Navy.
What Will I Need When Scenic Cruising Tracy Arm Fjord?
Cruising the Tracy Arm Fjord is a passive, relaxing day on the cruise ship, but there are certain items that you will want to have with you which will help you to enjoy this day of scenic cruising to the fullest.
During the Summer months, temperatures in the Tracy Arm Fjord range from 0 to 16 degrees Celsius (30 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit), so it is important to dress accordingly. I would plan on wearing full winter gear, and if you are planning to take a “tour” in order to get closer to the Twin Sawyer Glaciers, water-proof clothing is recommended.
I would also recommend that you have a reusable water bottle or cup handy, as the majority of cruise lines ban all paper products and disposable plastic items on scenic cruising days.
The one item that you will want for this part of your Alaskan Cruise is a set of binoculars. While you are close to the rock walls, they are quite high (up to 7,000 feet high) and the binoculars will help you to search for wildlife that might be more difficult to spot. In addition to the binoculars, always have a camera handy as the beauty is never-ending.
For a full list of what to pack for your Alaskan cruise, get the fool proof packing guide for your adventures in Alaska.
Why You Need to Cruise the Tracy Arm Fjord
The second you begin scenic cruising through the Tracy Arm Fjord, you will know why you need to cruise through the Tracy Arm Fjord. Watching the turquoise water with ice chunks scattered throughout lapping up against the rugged stone walls surrounding the fjord, while listening to calving ice, you will feel as if you have been transported into a dreamland.
The scenery throughout Tracy Arms is breath-taking and nothing like anything you have ever seen before. There are no pictures or words that can describe the true beauty of this wonder. Cruising Tracy Arm is a once in a lifetime experience that everyone should do at least once.
HAPPY CRUISING 🙂
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