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Portage Glacier Cruises
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Ailton007 wrote a review Jul 2020
Seattle, Washington609 contributions140 helpful votes
This one hour cruise takes you on Portage Lake to the glacier which is an amazing sight. Note it's a lake and there is no wildlife / fish in it but people come to watch the glacier. Even if the weather is overcast like on our day there is plenty of great photo ops and the hearing the cracking of the glacier is impressive but sadly a good reminder of climate change too. Operation is great and there were only a few people onboard given we live in times of Covid. Definitely felt safe.
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Date of experience: July 2020
3 Helpful votes
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PookyCake wrote a review Nov 2019
Victoria, Canada11265 contributions1102 helpful votes
+1
I’ve written about Portage Glacier at some length in my review of, well, Portage Glacier on this site. As such, the focus of this review will be on the cruise aboard the MV Ptarmigan. Reflecting back on this experience, it really is rather remarkable as to how it came about. I knew I was going to be in Alaska for a proverbial “cup of tea” (a short period), but wanted to see and experience at least one glacier. As I sat in Ted Stevens airport, with some time to kill, I decided to browse the various options available to me for a glacier tour. One that came up numerous times – and had high ratings – was the Portage Glacier tour. The tour was attractive to me for a few reasons: 1) It did not require me to book a flight-seeing tour; 2) It was via boat, had numerous departure options and was therefore much easier on the wallet; and, 3) The glacier tour was readily accessible via bus or personal vehicle. In short, I wasn’t necessarily beholden to a strict timeline and could, therefore, make best use of my time in Anchorage. But . . . But then I read some of the terms and was left feeling disappointed: To book a bus tour online at least one week’s notice was required. “Well drat,” thought PookyCake, “there goes the economical glacier tour option.” But then I put on my thinking cap and decided I’d give the tour company – Gray Line Alaska – a call anyway. And that’s when my spirits were suddenly uplifted. I’d called to see if I could go on a glacier tour two days down the road. “No problem,” said the fellow on the phone! And thus my Portage Glacier tour was booked! I offer a hearty thanks to the folks at Gray Line for accommodating me on such short notice! The bus ride up the scenic Seward Highway was both lovely and educational. As we drove along the mountainous road our driver kept us entertained throughout via a fine mix of humour and trivia about the route we were taking. It was most rewarding to learn about the social history of place and space while en route to the glacier. Once we arrived at Portage Lake, everybody boarded the hearty MV Ptarmigan for their glacier adventure. As a fellow ptarmigan myself (haha), I was most pleased to be boarding a vessel with such a handsome name! Seriously, though, the one-hour cruise aboard the MV Ptarmigan really helped to put Portage Glacier into a wider context. One of the key messages I took from the insightful narration provided by the crew was that we all need to do our part to ensure that these natural wonders of Alaska survive for generations to come. As the MV Ptarmigan pulls up to within 300 feet of the glacier, you marvel at its beauty – its various shades of ice blue – but you also realize, given what you’ve just heard, that it’s not as robust as it used to be. Not too long ago, the glacier basically filled the entire valley and was approximately 23 kilometers in length. Today, in 2019, it is less than 10 kilometers in length and shrinking. So, the cruise aboard the MV Ptarmigan is educational – eye-opening, really. But it provides this education within the context of a wonderful experience within the fullness of Portage Lake. As you cruise from the docking area, you are taken up close – REALLY CLOSE – to a series of waterfalls. Those on the lower deck of the ship do get wet! It was a wonderful experience – something like no other. But, of course, the crown jewel of this excursion is the up-close look at Portage Glacier. The vessel idles around the glacier for an extended period, ensuring that all onboard get a chance to see it up close and take many a nice photo. The folks who run this operation definitely make sure you get your money’s worth! After the glacier tour concluded, we all boarded our bus to make our way back towards Anchorage (but not for a lovely stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center). Even the relatively short ride back wasn’t without a bit of excitement. As we were approaching Anchorage, the bus driver was telling everybody about the number of moose killed each year due to impacts with vehicles (the state actually has a counter in this regard). Just as he finished telling the tale, we witnessed a car hit a female moose! Thankfully, in this instance, both driver and moose ended up OK! All in all, it was a great tour and well worth the modest cost ($90). If you’re in Alaska and only have enough time to see one glacier or do one tour, make sure you do this one. It’s comprehensive; easy on the wallet; and isn’t restrictive, timewise. Additionally, the MV Ptarmigan is “accessible” and is thus ideal for folks of all types. Highly recommended!
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Date of experience: June 2019
4 Helpful votes
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Doug M wrote a review Oct 2019
Rockledge, Florida253 contributions52 helpful votes
Our first visit to Alaska and took the 6 hour cruise. Saw many Orca ewe whales, 14 at one time! Sea otters, seals and many other wildlife. The glaciers were spectacular and brought you close up within a quarter mile. A must do in Alaska.
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Date of experience: August 2019
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Lori C wrote a review Sep 2019
33 contributions28 helpful votes
Combined Portage Glacier with Alaska Wildlife tour since going so far down arm. Lovely views on way, saw eagles, Dall sheep and other glacier views. Wonderful boat trip. Glaciers were beautiful and the lighting was perfect for photos. 2 busloads and still had plenty of room. Decent bathrooms and lots of room to see the glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, and the hikers & kayakers waving at us! Ranger was great and full of info., and she answered all questions patiently. Actually got way closer to glacier than at Hubbard or Sawyer on cruise ship.
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Date of experience: August 2019
1 Helpful vote
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Harold W wrote a review Aug 2019
Upland, California522 contributions112 helpful votes
+1
This is a beautiful 1-hour boat trip across Portage Lake to the face of Portage Glacier. They linger near the glacier so you have plenty of time to view and photograph it. The narrator was both entertaining and informative. I was fortunate to have beautiful weather and spent my time in the outdoor viewing areas. The cost is $39/adult, but you can save $5 with a coupon available for printing from their website.
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Date of experience: August 2019
1 Helpful vote
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