Humpback Whales, Glaciers And Northern Lights In Alaska
Oh, I’ve wanted to tell you about this bit for ages!
Like, as soon as it happened, all I wanted to do was share it but somehow I’ve not managed to get the time to do this until now. (*It probably doesn’t help that I ended up taking like 1 million photos from this afternoon alone 😄).
So, there’s one thing we’ve always wanted to do for a while now and that thing was to find ourselves some whales on a whale watching trip.
And we’ve tried multiple times – in Norway, in Iceland, in South Africa, in Canada… all of which proved to futile.
Like we’d be on some for hours and end up seeing no whales (we would, however, end up seeing dolphins, which was also pretty cool too but no whales). We’d pretty much given up, by this point and jokingly referred to whales as being mythical creatures – kinda like unicorns.
On this trip through Alaska (stopping in Juneau) with Celebrity Cruises, however, we’d booked ourselves on the Ben Fogle excursion which had a whale watching element as part of it, and we thought nothing of it.
The day has started off pretty fantastic with this amazing experience to wake up (see blog post here) however ased on my past experiences of whale watching, I guess I just kinda went in with low expectations. “Why disappoint yourself with unrealistic expectations?” I thought.
Hopping aboard our shuttle from the Celebrity Cruises docking port in Juneau, I distinctly remember the lady saying how it was pretty much guaranteed to see whales today and again, I dismissed it. “Not getting my hopes high!” I kept reminding myself.
She wasn’t wrong!
Within about 30 minutes of leaving the shore, we’d found our very first humpback whale. And I kid you not – it lived up to the hype!
The first one was a bit further away from the boat but as we moved, it did too and did that thing where they feed by scooping all the water in their mouths, coming up to the surface in an almost vertical motion – It. Was. Incredible!
My scepticism meant that I didn’t even bother setting up my camera (i.e. switching lenses) so it wasn’t till after this I decided to try to get some photos.
And so off we went along the coastline of Juneau and thing just got even better as more and more whales showed up at every angle, announcing their presence with loud bursts of noise before you even saw them as they came up for air!
After having waited so long to see whales, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. (Don’t worry, I put my camera asides for a bit to actually just properly take in what was happening right in front of me).
I kid you not, this moment, despite already loving our cruise through Alaska with Celebrity Cruises already, made this trip to Alaska so much more special. Like one of the defining moments of our time in this gorgeous northern wilderness.
Or so I thought until later that night…
Back on shore, we found ourselves some cheeky bald eagles (which at this point, were as common as seeing chickens on a poultry farm – a thing I’d never thought I’d say until we arrived in Alaska), before heading off on a little trek in search of glaciers.
Getting to the Mendenhall Glacier, you kinda have to go through a rainforest – which is fascinating in and of itself.
I’ve been through rainforests so it was nice enough to see how the ones in Alaska different from more tropical forests but the glaciers for me were what truly held some next level appeal. 😀
The idea that this ginormous piece of ice has been there for centuries is just something I’ve always found so fascinating and can never seem to get my head around (especially when you stop to think of how transient ice really is – there are very few places in the world that can hold on to ice all year round).
The glacier was absolutely brilliant to finally see!
I spent longer than I should probably admit to, just staring at it, occasionally stopping to watch the bald eagles fly overhead, just taking it all in.
And just like that, it was time to head back to the ship. Intent on making the most of our time in Juneau, we decided to skip the lift back to the ship and instead make our way back slowly through Juneau to the ship on foot.
Now here’s the other ‘defining moment‘ I allude to early, see before we even arrived in Juneau, I had a look at the Northern Lights forecast and it seemed promising that we might be able to see it at some point in Alaska.
That evening, in particular, had a pretty strong forecast and so, after dinner, we decided to head over to the bar and stay awake with a few cocktails (espresso martinis to the rescue), in the hopes of potentially catching the Northern Lights.
For a while, nothing seemed to be happening. Like I’d already given up and gotten into my pyjamas when, almost out of the blue, there it was – the Northern Lights!
I don’t think I even bothered to get changed, I just chucked on regular clothes on top of my pyjamas and hot-footed it to one of the decks above to make the most of the night sky.
I can’t remember the exact time (it was definitely past midnight) – all I do remember was just the beautiful display of lights across the sky!
It was just so amazing and was perhaps the very time that I actually saw them moving fast enough that it looked like it was dancing across the night sky (I feel like I need to apologise for the photos as it was tricky trying to take a long exposure of photos on a moving ship). I did get that view below though. 😀
(^You might need to press play on the Instagram video embedded above to see it move).
The Northern Lights have always fascinated me but I just couldn’t have asked for a conclusion to what had been the first day I saw icebergs (see the post here), gotten up close to glaciers and seen whales for the first time properly. It was just the perfect topping on the cake!
The Northern Lights just carried on like this for hours even after decided to call it a night. (I woke up for a pee in the middle of the night and peeked out the window and it was still every bit as strong as it was a few hours before).
Suffice to say, Alaska aboard Celebrity Cruises had definitely proven to be everything I’d hoped for and more! It was just the most amazing experience I won’t be forgetting in a while.
found at –Hand Luggage Only