Imagine waters so calm that they mirror the snow-capped mountains and towering glaciers that hug their shores … a secluded body of water fed by cascading waterfalls that is host to an array of wildlife … a tranquil paradise where eagles take wing above and adorable seals frolic below. This is Prince William Sound, one of Alaska’s most spellbinding scenic wonders, and in a Discovery Tour small group, you’ll have the chance to cruise upon its glassy surface amidst one of the majestic landscapes you’re ever likely to set your eyes upon.
This spectacular pocket of Alaska was named for King George III’s son, Prince William Henry, in 1778, after international explorer James Cook came upon it. At the time, the prince was just 13 years old and was a decidedly young midshipman in the Royal Navy. As for Cook, he went on to chart North America’s northwestern coast and emerged as the first cartographer to ever place these far-flung, unspoiled reaches on a map.
Prince William Sound embodies the unspoiled majesty of Alaska still. Its surrounding shores are part of the Chugach National Forest, the second largest in the United States. As you cruise these waters, you’ll pass remote islands and astonishing fjords carved by millennia of glacial activity. This remains one of the most dramatic spots in the world to witness tidewater glaciers that tower hundreds of feet right at the shore and to see a swell of waterfalls making their final fall into the seawaters.
Besides the glaciers themselves, you will see ample evidence of the colossal work they’ve done over thousands of years. Starkly beautiful, barren hillsides tell the story of the ice wall’s slow retreat. And just below the water’s surface, ancient moraines– boulder and soil deposits left behind as glaciers drew back – mark the spots to which they once reached. It all makes for a remarkable and fascinating geological snapshot of the centuries.
As you cruise, you’ll learn that there is no other place on the planet that equals Prince William Sound for its earth-sculpting drama. This is the world’s densest concentration of tidewater glaciers, and many of them reach twelve miles inland and upward to ice-covered peaks, some of them 9,000 feet tall. As you explore, a diverse array of wildlife watches over your ship: bald eagles, countless seabirds, otters, seals and Dall’s porpoises among them. Occasionally, your naturalist will even spot whales. And there’s always a chance that you’ll witness the spectacle of a calving glacier as it splinters into the sea with a tremendous plunge.
Join Discovery Tours for the cruise of a lifetime in Prince William Sound during one of our newest adventures, Alaska’s Natural Beauty.