Still covered in the shadows cast by the sheer granite walls we sailed between, guests watched the sunrise in a unique manner on National Geographic Quest this morning. The warm glow traveled down the stone walls. Captain Tim Lyon navigated the icy waters with skill, perfectly positioning us between the approaches to North and South Sawyer Glaciers by the time the sun poked over the mountains and breakfast was served. Both glaciers showed signs of being active throughout the night, as our ship was surrounded by brash ice. At nine o’clock, our first round of Zodiacs cut paths through the ice-filled waters, delivering our guests to the awe-inspiring face of South Sawyer Glacier. Here at the calving birthplace of all this ice, we were able to see where the end of a river of ice meets the ocean. Large calving events sent the thunderous sound of ‘Sumdum’ echoing down the fjords while seals fled their floating ice to avoid the oncoming waves. It was an awe-inspiring commune with nature prior to lunch being served.

The weather was less sunny as we traveled the reverse route out of Tracy Arm. The clouds seemed to start right at the peaks of the surrounding mountains. Colors in this slightly overcast lighting were a photographer’s dream. The water looked as if it were glowing, floating ice reflected a deep powerful blue, and even our clothes seemed a bit brighter than usual. We eventually stopped at the familiar Hole in the Wall Waterfall. It’s a favorite waterfall, where the water slides down a massive, flat rock with a notable hole in the middle called “Hole in the Wall.” What we didn’t expect was the rendezvous with a slender black dorsal fin heading the opposite way. Luckily, we were able to pull alongside a male killer whale in commute. We kept the individual within eyesight for more than twenty minutes before we needed to correct course and head back to Juneau.

As a new tradition on board, we held a storytelling session to end the week. Guests and staff alike were invited to take the mic and share stories of their favorite experiences on board from both past cruises and the one we are just finishing up. This evening marked the end of the expedition for a group of guests and staff that grew particularly close. While we viewed the guest slideshow, laughter was heard over clinking glasses as we enjoyed the last moments of our week together.