There is nothing that welcomes you to Alaska quite like a morning surrounded by humpback whales. The quiet and cool of the morning brought us a distant bright light, with more than a dozen whales dancing beneath it. Some of them were even kind enough to show us their flukes, in hopes that we could identify them later. The whales in this location were going for krill, which our captain could see in a distinctive band 150 feet below the surface. The whales swam coolly, making quick dives before moving to their next location.

Our National Geographic photographer and certified photo instructors teamed up to help guests get the best images possible. On this photo expedition, much more time is dedicated to the art of photography, allowing our guests to be experiential learners.

We made our way back toward Tracy Arm to begin our navigation to South Sawyer Glacier. The steep walls of granite were teeming with waterfalls, glacial striations, and glacial chatter marks, showing the power that water, fresh and frozen, can have on the landscape no matter how much time passes. The depth of the fjord, coupled with its well-polished perimeters, holds a striking resemblance to other places of natural wonder, such as Yosemite, for many of our explorers.

The afternoon was spent experiencing the South Sawyer Glacier and learning more about glacier anatomy and dynamics from one of our naturalists on board. Guests were in awe of a beautiful major calving event, followed by various smaller calvings, a rockslide, and several playful seals. The dynamics of the glacial environment were alive and well! All of this was made even better by the addition of hot chocolate. We brought home a piece of ice to have a contest to see how long it would take to melt, bringing a bit of our glacier experience on board with us.