Disenchantment Bay – Alaska Cruise 2017 – Part 1

I have been remiss in documenting the September 2017 Alaska Cruise aboard the Coral Princess

There are many reasons for this egregious lapse in my blogging duties. Not that I’ll share them here, but know there are bigly reasons, all documented in a memo I may or may not release for public consumption.   

Regardless, it’s all good now because here I am; me and a bunch of photos and even videos. So many photos and videos that one post cannot contain them all . . . and that’s for just one day — September 10, 2017.

There is a gallery at the end of the post and a SmugMug gallery HERE. Photos in SmugMug can be viewed full-size. Note that the SmugMug gallery contains all the photos; those from this post (Part 1) and those of the next post (Part 2, whenever I post it). You can click on these photos to see a larger version but less than full-size. 

We begin with an early morning view — the photo above — from the Promenade deck. Specifically, the back of the ship. Unfortunately, there isn’t an equivalent front-facing opening at the prow of the ship but regardless of that minor disappointment, the Promenade deck is my favorite deck on the ship.  

Why? Because it’s where one finds the International Café. It’s open 24-hours and it serves coffee, teas, and a variety of snacks. I kid; that’s on Deck 6.

The real reason we like the Promenade deck is that it goes all around the ship with no breaks. It’s where we put in our walking miles, but it’s also a great place to be when looking at scenery since there’s a lot of railing and unobstructed views. Also, you can move across the middle of the ship to get to the other side when they announce that all the great stuff is happening on the side you’re not on. 

One quick word about the first photo . . . the yellowish smoke-like stuff in the middle of the photo is the smoke from the ship. And now, I give you the Promenade deck. 

I won’t shy away from saying the Promenade deck gets chilly, especially when we’re doing 20 knots into the wind. Not get-your-heavy-winter-coats cold (we’re hardy folks — we didn’t even bring our winter coats) but cold enough that unless one is walking briskly, one might want to wear a hat, scarf, and gloves along with a few layers of clothing. 

Luckily, one can always duck inside and pretend to admire the artwork as frozen extremities thaw. 

A quick note before I proceed . . . of the 8,000 photos I took aboard the ship, a good number are of the various decorative sights scattered around the ship, be they actual art pieces or murals or paintings, or architectural features of the various locales. They will merit their own post but a few — like in the instance above — might make appearances in posts like these.

Also, let me take a few moments to offer a reference for when I speak of various places on the ship. This is what they give you when you board: 

That opens into this (note: if you click on the next photo, you’ll open a 4MB file that should be large enough to read once you click on various parts of the image):

Also as a reference, I include the Pitter-Patter . . . Okay, okay, it’s actually the Princess Patter, the ship’s daily schedule of activities (HERE). Pitter-patter is what I call it because I’m weird that way. 

Okay, here’s another note for them so inclined. I’m including a fair number of links with information about the places I mention. That’s for people interested in the additional information. Those just interested in just essential information and the photos can ignore the links.

If you bother to open that PDF, around the 3rd page you’ll see that at 3:00 pm we were scheduled to arrive at  Yakutat Bay (HERE and HERE). That’s a little misleading as we entered Yakutat Bay just after Noon and the 3:00 pm time refers to when we would be in Disenchantment Bay and viewing the Hubbard Glacier

Here’s what the area looks like:


That’s a screen capture but for them who want more, there are plenty of maps of the area online.

However, as a reference, this is from a map I bought on the ship along with a companion book for the cruise. If you click on the photo, you’ll open a larger (zoomable) version in a new tab or window and you can see the ship’s course from Whittier to Disenchantment Bay.  

The ship moves at a glacial pace — see what I did there? No? Nevermind then — up the bay and it took an hour to get from this photo (taken at a 350mm equivalent zoom) to when we got to the glacier proper:

On our way there, a light rain would move in between us and the glacier but it didn’t linger. 

It’s difficult getting a sense of scale from these photos. I can tell you that the glacier’s face is 400-600 feet tall (depending on where you look). I can show you this side view and tell you we were sailing in the middle of the bay and that land is between one and two miles away:

One thing I should have done (but forgot to) is to turn on the GPS on the P900 or on the Samsung Note II. That way, I could tell you exact measurements. The discolored areas on the side of the photo are there because I was shooting through the gaps in the wind and rain shields on the upper observation deck of the ship. They’ll be visible in future posts but you can also see them in the many online photos of the ship. 

One way to give you scale is with this photo:

That photo is at 135mm equivalent zoom. For reference, 22mm zoom is roughly 1x view as far as the human eye is concerned. People might argue that 50mm zoom is equivalent to the human eye. Whatever you want to use, the above photo is the equivalent of between 2.5x to 6x magnification of what you would see with the human eye.

Here now is the 2,000mm — 83x — equivalent zoom (it’s a crappy photo because of the mist in the air):

What I want to impress on you is that the place is BIG and that the photos don’t give you an accurate sense of scale because there’s nothing recognizable nearby. No one could figure out that was a fishing boat just by looking at it with the naked eyes. It just looked like a piece of debris near the ship. 

I’ll stop giving zoom values but for those who are interested, the information for each photo can be had in the SmugMug gallery linked above. 

In this next photo, you can see where the glacier is getting masked by the rain I mentioned; a gray curtain between us and the glacier. A wet gray curtain by the time we neared. 

On the way there, I snapped a bunch of other photos some of which I’ll now share (not too many). 

A little after 2:00pm we were getting closer and the rain was leaving. 

It looks close, don’t it? It’s not. Excitement gave way to taking boring photos (see if you can figure this one out):

. . . and the first of several videos (quick reminder; they are better viewed on YouTube proper and at the higher resolution):

To clarify, photos and videos are in chronological order. Also, the voice you occasionally hear is that of the ship’s Naturalist describing the features of the area and giving the history of the place. I’m half deaf so I could not make out much of what she was saying; perhaps you can. 

I have other videos from around that time but I will spare you the ordeal. So, as we approached the glacier, I spent my time taking photos of the ice floating around us . . . 

. . . trying to zoom in on the glacier . . . 

. . . but since it was still a long way off, I concentrated on other stuff. 

Still, the sight of the glacier in the distance drew me back as I hoped to resolve details using the P900’s powerful zoom.  

Alas, the details still lacked definition . . . 

This gave me the opportunity to practice shooting P900 videos . . . 

It also gives me a chance to speak a bit about what we might get to see in the upcoming photos and videos.


Hubbard is one of the few glaciers that’s advancing and occasionally closes off access to the Russell Fjord. It’s thought eventually the ice will permanently seal off access to the fjord (HERE).

This NASA satellite image of the area (click for larger view) shows an instance in time when the ice temporarily blocked access to the fjord:


There are three other glaciers emptying into Disenchantment Bay: Valerie, Haenke, and Turner Glaciers. You’ll see them in the photos and if you keep the first map in mind (where they are labeled). You should be able to identify them even if they appear all part of the same glacier. 

I continued with checking out the glacier . . . 

. . . and taking photos and videos of closer things . . .

As we neared, the features appeared more defined and I tried my first multi-shots panorama . . . 

Click on the above for a larger view or you can click HERE for the full-size version (4MB — 11,680 x 3,530 pixels).

Not exactly a quality photo and I went back to shooting objects I found interesting. 

I’m not happy with the results I got for the clear piece of ice and even more unhappy I only snapped one picture of it.  

The good news? We’re getting closer to the glacier and the weather is clearing.

Time to try another multi-shots panorama . . . 

Click on the above for a larger view or you can click HERE for the full-size version (12MB — 15,000 x 3,800 pixels). Better, but not what I would call stellar. 

Back to shooting glacier . . . 

. . . scenery . . . 

. . . more glacier (looking a little better) . . . 

. . . more scenery . . .  

. . . back to more glacier (more improvement in resolution) . . . 

. . . to another shot at a multi-photos panorama (still a bit grainy but now you can see details plus Valerie Glacier and part of the Haenke Glacier) . . . 

Click on the above for a larger view or you can click HERE for the full-size version (12MB — 21,800 x 3,500 pixels).

I think these next shots are of the Turner Glacier . . . 

It looks like the glacier giving us the evil eyes. Or, it’s winking at us. 

By now, the ship was coasting so I snapped a few more photos of the surrounding hills. 

I’ll again remind readers that it’s difficult getting a sense of scale from the photos. I used the P900 to zoom to examine the surrounding hills but neglected to save videos of me doing so. Those would have given a better indication of scale, especially when zeroing in on the waterfalls. 

Yes, it is time for another panorama . . . 

Click on the above for a larger view or you can click HERE for the full-size version (18MB — 21,100 x 3,800 pixels). Better still, but not yet as good as it would get.

It wouldn’t be long before we approached the glacier as close as the ship had ever gotten, at least that’s what was announced over the public announcement speakers. Memory serves me poorly but I remember the stated distance was around 600 feet. Meanwhile, I wanted a few photos of the blue ice floating around us. Fun fact: this is not the same as the blue ice that occasionally falls from airplanes. 

I should mention something else . . . the photos show differing intensities of blue for the same areas of the glacier. That is the difference between the RAW capture of the D7000 and the JPG capture of the P900. The P900 photos are slightly more saturated than the RAW captures. In contrast, videos from the P900 show less of the blue and tend more toward being washed out. That changes once the weather clears a bit and there’s more light.

The next photo was taken at 2:43 pm. The sky was still overcast but was beginning to clear. With more light available for photos, we could see more details of the ice wall in front of us. 

Here it comes . . . another panorama, this one of just a small portion of the glacier’s face. 

Click on the above for a larger view or you can click HERE for the full-size version (11MB — 15,600 x 4,130 pixels).

The weather continued to clear and viewing conditions got better. 

Again, notice the difference in saturation and tonal quality between the cameras. A little is due to the processing, but there again I’m limited as to what I can do in post-processing when working with JPG files. I tried removing some of the blue cast from the P900 photos but doing too much resulted in photos that plain looked wrong. 

This next one is one of the longest panoramas (but not the longest) and takes in most of the face wall of the glacier. To the right, you can see the entrance to Russell Fjord.

Click on the above for a larger view or — IF YOU HAVE A GREAT INTERNET CONNECTION — you can click HERE for the full-size version (31MB — 35,000 x 4,200 pixels).

This is a decent place to stop this post. I will continue with more photos and more videos in the next Alaska Cruise post but, for right now, I leave you with these. 

There are a few more photos in the gallery below, but if you’ve read the whole post, the additional photos are mostly of the same stuff shown above. 

Here’s the gallery (minus the big files) and then this post is done:

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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