Day 7 – Cruising Tracy Arm

Cruising Tracy Arm – in Luxury

Today, Silversea's Silver Shadow spent the day sailing majestic Tracy Arm Fjord. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Today, Silversea’s Silver Shadow spent the day sailing majestic Tracy Arm Fjord. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

After four solid days spent stopping in ports, guests aboard Silversea’s Silver Shadow were 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.

Silver Shadow makes her first turn to port while entering Tracy Arm Fjord. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Shadow makes her first turn to port while entering Tracy Arm Fjord. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
We had to first wait for Princess Cruises' Grand Princess to exit the fjord. We encountered her just after ten in the morning, meaning their guests only had a few hours compared with our full day of scenic cruising. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
We had to first wait for Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess to exit the fjord. We encountered her just after ten in the morning, meaning their guests only had a few hours compared with our full day of scenic cruising. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

A rarely-seen friend also made their return today. Hello, Mr. Sun! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
A rarely-seen friend also made their return today. Hello, Mr. Sun! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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 Princess exit the fjord. The ship was bound for Juneau, just a few hours’ sail north.

While the Silver Shadow was 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.

Sailing into Tracy Arm Fjord aboard Silversea's Silver Shadow. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sailing into Tracy Arm Fjord aboard Silversea’s Silver Shadow. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
One of Silversea's greatest Scenic Cruising advantages: ample deck space. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
One of Silversea’s greatest Scenic Cruising advantages: ample deck space. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The other times, we’ve always sailed halfway down the fjord before stopping – and turning – in the little clearing with the waterfall. So, naturally, when readers ask me about Tracy Arm, I make sure to add the disclaimer about actually seeing the glaciers.

Given the positively chilly temperatures here as of late, I wasn’t expecting much out of today. I figured much of the pass would be too caked with ice to really traverse any great distance. So you can imagine my surprise when we steamed right on past the little clearing that I am so used to hearing the bow thrusters whirr into life on and just kept right on going, sailing at a safe speed that sometimes barely broke five knots.

We cruised deeper into the fjord than I had expected. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
We cruised deeper into the fjord than I had expected. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
...and the landscape continually changed. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
…and the landscape continually changed. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Although the sun disappeared and the temperature plunged dramatically the closer we got to the glaciers, the scenic cruising we enjoyed today was every bit as in-depth as the small catamaran excursion I took nearly a decade ago. During the intervening nine years, not much has changed in Tracy Arm – it’s still as beautiful as ever.

Waiters aboard Silver Shadow offered up hot chocolate...and Gluhwein! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Waiters aboard Silver Shadow offered up hot chocolate…and Gluhwein! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

To keep those of us out on deck warm, Silversea’s helpful bar attendants walked around with trays of hot chocolate and my absolute favorite drink ever: Gluhwein. Anyone who knows me can attest that the path to my heart is paved with the spiced, mulled wine that is commonly served in the European Christmas Markets throughout the month of December. I had to indulge in two glasses. It keeps you warm and, for all I know, it will be another six months before I can have another cup of the stuff.

Even crew members came out to watch as we sailed deeper and deeper into Tracy Arm. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Even crew members came out to watch as we sailed deeper and deeper into Tracy Arm. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

When we finally reached the clearing for the Sawyer Glaciers, I was astonished to see that we were continuing on, towards the South Sawyer Glacier. We were now officially further than I had ever sailed into Tracy Arm on any ship, and Silver Shadow crawled along at two or three knots, pushing bergy bits and small chunks of ice out of her path using her bow thrusters and careful navigation.

Along the way, Captain Alessandro Zanello came over the public address system to inform us of all the seals and sea lions that were resting on ice in the bay ahead. He said this was a very rare event, and I can certainly attest to that. Their barks, sounding like crying children, rang out across the mountains in the bay. I have never seen or heard anything like it here in Alaska. Silver Shadow lingered in the bay for nearly 45 minutes as the ice clinked and cracked against itself and the currents and the sea lions and seals crawled on and off small bits of ice.

The South Sawyer Glacier - and some bergy bits. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The South Sawyer Glacier – and some bergy bits. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The little-used promenades running along either side of Deck 5 arguably provide the best views, as you're closer to the ice. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The little-used promenades running along either side of Deck 5 arguably provide the best views, as you’re closer to the ice. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Plenty of wildlife opportunities were present in Tracy Arm. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Plenty of wildlife opportunities were present in Tracy Arm. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The landscape here is dramatic. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The landscape here is dramatic. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Shadow barely had enough space to turn around - meaning we could make it further than vessels that are longer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Shadow barely had enough space to turn around – meaning we could make it further than vessels that are longer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Steaming past Disney Wonder in Tracy Arm. She looks gorgeous against the backdrop of the glacially-carved mountains, but her decks were crowded with people. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Steaming past Disney Wonder in Tracy Arm. She looks gorgeous against the backdrop of the glacially-carved mountains, but her decks were crowded with people. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

On our way back up the fjord, we encountered Disney Cruises’ Disney Wonder. She’d made it much farther down the fjord than most ships her size, but there is absolutely no way she could have completed the navigational feat that we enjoyed this afternoon onboard Silver Shadow. We measure 610 feet long, and to turn us around, the bow of our ship was only about 50 feet away from land. Disney Wonder is 300 feet longer than our ship. I don’t doubt they were having a wonderful experience, too, but looking at the passengers crunched against the railings made me appreciate the generous passenger-to-space ratio here onboard the Silver Shadow.

Getting a table in The Restaurant on Deck 4 wasn't an issue this afternoon. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Getting a table in The Restaurant on Deck 4 wasn’t an issue this afternoon. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Warming up with some spicy Chili con Carne. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Warming up with some spicy Chili con Carne. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

To warm up from all the time spent outside, I enjoyed a spicy Mexican-themed lunch in The Restaurant on Deck 4, within full view of the amazing sights as we retraced our route back through Tracy Arm.

Here’s a look at what’s happening this afternoon and evening onboard the Silver Shadow, courtesy of the Silversea Chronicles:

  • 12:00 – Join the Bar Team for a Cocktail Demonstration. The Bar (5)
  • 2:00 – Bridge Play with Fellow Guests (unhosted). Card Room (7)
  • 3:00 – Blackjack Tournament with the Casino Staff. Casino (5)
  • 3:45 – Golf Putting Challenge – fun and laughs with a cast member of the Artists of Silversea. Lobby, Athenian Lounge (6)
  • 4:00 – Kids Corner with Christy (until 6pm). Conference Room (7)
  • 4:00 – Afternoon Tea Time. La Terrazza (7)
  • 4:15 – Team Trivia Quiz with your Cruise Director Don. The Bar (5)
  • 5:00 – Destination Lecture: Black Gold Highway with Destination Consultant Niki Sepsas. Athenian Lounge (6)
  • 5:00 – Aerobics with Personal Trainer Vlad. Aerobics Room (10)
  • 5:30 – Introduction to the Art of Bob Dylan with Art Consultant Rami Ron. Lobby (5)
  • 5:30 – Friends of Bill W. Observation Lounge (10)
  • 5:30 – Stretch Class with Personal Trainer Vlad. Aerobics Room (10)
  • 6:30 – Our pianist Willy plays your favorite melodies. The Bar (5)
  • 6:45 – The Silver Shadow Quartet plays for your dancing and listening pleasure. Panorama Lounge (8)
  • 8:00 – Kids Corner with Christy (until 10 pm). Conference Room (7).
  • 9:30 – Our duo Willy and Angie sing and play for your dancing and listening pleasure. Panorama Lounge (8)
  • 10:00 – Movie on the Big Screen: Philomena. PG-13, 98 minutes. Athenian Lounge (6)
  • 10:00 – The Liar’s Club Game Show. Panorama Lounge (8)
  • 10:30 – Our duo Willy and Angie sing and play for your dancing and listening pleasure. The Bar (5)

Last week, I got my hair cut in The Spa at Silversea on Deck 10 forward. It was the first time I’d ever gotten my hair cut aboard a cruise ship, and I was very pleased with the experience – so much so that I decided to try another new treatment. So, today at 3 p.m., I went back to the Spa and saw Joanna for a Fire and Ice Pedicure.

Today, I went back to the Spa at Silversea on Deck 10 forward for another brand-new experience. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Today, I went back to the Spa at Silversea on Deck 10 forward for another brand-new experience. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Now, I’ve never had a pedicure before, but I am told more and more men do get them. But, I am a huge fan of the Hot Stone Massage that Silversea offers, and the Fire and Ice treatment works in a similar fashion – for your legs.

First, cooling gels are applied to your legs while your feet rest in a bath of hot water which, after a chilly morning spent out on deck, was just what the doctor ordered. Then, your nails are cut, clipped and filed. If you’re female, you can probably have your nails painted. To be honest, I’m not sure how it works – I felt that I didn’t need to add a little dramatic flair to my evening onboard by finding out.

Your feet are then scrubbed to remove dead skin, which actually felt surprisingly good. Finally, your legs and feet are massaged traditionally and with the hot stones, which are volcanic rocks from Bali, Indonesia. They’re supposed to aid in circulation and reduce stress, which they actually did. In fact, after 60 minutes in the chair, I felt as relaxed as if I’d had a traditional full-body massage. Total cost: $92.

Enjoying a relaxing glass of champagne on my veranda. Even in Alaska, these come in handy - and nearly every suite on Silver Shadow has one. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Enjoying a relaxing glass of champagne on my veranda. Even in Alaska, these come in handy – and nearly every suite on Silver Shadow has one. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silversea offers the Fire and Ice treatment with a duration of 50 to 60 minutes, and it can be enjoyed as a manicure, pedicure, or both. Would I do it again? Definitely. No one’s ever going to see my toenails except for me, but I’d repeat the Fire and Ice Pedicure for the relaxing and, frankly, rejuvenating feeling.

This next part is directed at any men that might be reading this: don’t be afraid of the spa! The spa landscape of today is very different than in the past; nearly all treatments are suitable for men, and that includes treatments outside of the more male-centric menu of beard trims and haircuts. So give it a shot; you might be pleasantly surprised at how much you enjoy it.

Pre-dinner cocktails in The Bar on Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Pre-dinner cocktails in The Bar on Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I actually talked to two guests today who were already planning for their next Silversea cruise. For what it’s worth, I just received an email last night stating that Silversea is still offering its Silver Select Program on two of Silver Shadow’s Alaska sailings this year. Silver Select is an incentive that Silversea began offering earlier this year. It offers the choice of a two-category suite upgrade, a $500 per person credit towards the purchase of Silversea’s air program, or a $500 per person onboard credit.

Silversea is offering it on two of Silver Shadow’s upcoming Alaskan cruises, provided that the booking is made before August 31 – which, considering the departure dates of the voyages, doesn’t seem too difficult to adhere to:

Voyage 3426: Seward to Vancouver, 7 Days, August 28 – September 4
Voyage 3428: Vancouver to San Francisco, 11 Days, September 13 – 24

Tonight as we sail on to Wrangell, I thought it would be appropriate to post some images of Silver Shadow in the prolonged dusk we’re enjoying onboard this evening. With the rain chased away and the faintest rays of colour poking through the clouds in the sky, it’s a beautiful evening to be sailing the waters of Alaska.

I’ve been lots of places in this world, but there’s still nothing that can match the beauty of dusk in Southeast Alaska.

Making our way south towards Wrangell and on to Prince Rupert and Victoria. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Making our way south towards Wrangell and on to Prince Rupert and Victoria. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The scene from Deck 8 aft onboard Silversea's Silver Shadow tonight at 10:30pm. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The scene from Deck 8 aft onboard Silversea’s Silver Shadow tonight at 10:30pm. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report onboard Silversea’s luxurious Silver Shadow continues tomorrow as we arrive in the town of Wrangell, Alaska! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

Follow along with our entire journey!

Silver Shadow, Alaska

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
Thursday, June 19, 2014Vancouver, British ColumbiaEmbark Silver Shadow18:00
Friday, June 20Cruising the Inside Passage
Saturday, June 21Ketchikan, Alaska08:0014:00
Sunday, June 22Juneau, Alaska09:3023:00
Monday, June 23Skagway, Alaska08:0017:00
Tuesday, June 24Sitka, Alaska09:0018:00
Wednesday, June 25Cruising Tracy Arm / Sawyer Glacier
Thursday, June 26Wrangell, Alaska07:0016:00
Friday, June 27Prince Rupert, British Columbia08:0017:00
Saturday, June 28At Sea
Sunday, June 29Victoria, British Columbia08:0023:59
Monday, June 30Vancouver, British Columbia07:00Disembark
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on stumbleupon
StumbleUpon
Share on digg
Digg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

x Logo: Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
Shield Security