Cruising Tracy Arm – in Luxury
After four solid days spent stopping in ports, guests aboard Silversea’s Silver Shadowwere treated to a day of scenic cruising in beautiful Tracy Arm Fjord. I’ve been here four times before, but my experience today will forever make me eat my words the next time I describe it to people.
You see, Tracy Arm is one of those places that is frequently listed on itineraries as including visits to the North and South Sawyer Glaciers. In practicality, however, the glaciers are difficult to reach. They’re located at the end of a fjord that is normally choked with ice even during the warm summer months. This hampers the ability of most cruise ships to even get within sight of them.
More critically, the fjord narrows considerably as you approach the North and South Sawyer glaciers. It takes a series of tight port and starboard turns to even reach the mouth of the glaciers – leaving ships with precious little room to maneuver should ice block their path.
With mainstream ships, there is also the question of time. As we arrived at the mouth of Tracy Arm this morning, we had to wait approximately 20 minutes to let Princess Cruises’ Grand Princessexit the fjord. The ship was bound for Juneau, just a few hours’ sail north.
While the Silver Shadowwas planning to spend all day in the Fjord, guests on the Grand Princess were already leaving at ten in the morning. Assuming they entered the fjord around 7a.m., that only leaves them with about 90 minutes of sailing time before they have to turn around to make their scheduled 2 p.m. arrival into Juneau.
That means I know exactly where Grand Princess stopped her journey: a little clearing about halfway into Tracy Arm with a brilliant waterfall on the starboard side. It’s the only place – aside from several turns many more nautical miles up – that a 952-foot long vessel like Grand Princess could successfully turn around in.
I’ve been here four times, but I have only seen the glaciers once, on an excursion nine years ago that departed from Juneau aboard a small catamaran and rejoined our ship in – you guessed it – the little clearing with the waterfall.