Glacier Bay National Park
Completed: July 11, 2014
On board Island Princess
In July 2014 I was traveling the Inside Passage of Alaska on a cruise ship as part of a trip associated with the National Park Traveler’s Club (www.parkstamps.org) annual convention. This year’s meeting was held at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park which has two sites, Skagway, AK and Seattle, WA. On our way to Skagway the cruise ship went into Glacier Bay National Park.
The park rangers are transported to the ship to spend the day on board. One of the rangers gave an excellent talk in the theater to a packed house, standing room only. While cruising by several of the larger glaciers another park ranger broadcast information and answered questions about what we were seeing. This day was the highlight of the cruise!
This Junior Ranger program is a bit different, it was developed and provided by Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, in coordination with the national park. The activities are designed to be done while cruising. The cruise ship staff in the Kid’s Zone have the booklets, badges and patches. When I went to the kid’s area, while in Glacier Bay, the cruise staff were working with the kids on their booklet. If kids work on it with the staff in the area designated they only have to complete three of the activities. If you are doing on your own you need to complete eight activities. Completion is reviewed by any adult, in my case my husband ‘signed off’ on my booklet. He is a tough reviewer, more demanding than most rangers!
This is rated as Junior Ranger only as the booklet lists ages 6 – 12. The cruise staff readily gave me the materials when it was requested. Over several days on the cruise I worked on the booklet. The topic of the activities include; Our National Treasure, Charting Your Course, Determined Detectives, Sea Survival, Things You Otter Know, Hidden Stories, The First People, Rivers of Ice, Bergy Bits, Spot ‘Em and Plot ‘Em, Research Search, Ranger Report, and Promenade Stroll Poll.
I enjoyed completing The First People as it provided great information about the Tlingit people and how they used the natural resources of the harbor seal and spruce trees. Probably my favorite was Spot ‘Em and Plot ‘Em which had you list animals seen during the cruise. I had been fortunate to see American Bald Eagles, Stellar Sea Lions, Common Raven, Pigeon Guillermot, and my favorite, Sea Otters. In completing the Ranger Report I asked one of the rangers where I would most likely see Puffins, another favorite animal to spot. I was told it would be unlikely to see them from the cruise ship as they stay close to rocky cliffs and look very small from the ship. She was correct, I never did spot one. Later during the trip, I did see a number of whales swimming by the ship.
The group we were traveling with, The National Park Travelers Club, has a passion for the national parks, all 401 of them. One way they document their visits is to collect passport stamps that the parks have at various locations within the park. As we were cruising through Glacier Bay National Park, but not stopping at the main visitor center in Gustavus the rangers brought the passport stamp on board for passengers to use. You can purchase two different kinds of books to record your stamps at park sites or use your own book. I record mine in a travel journal and my husband records his in the larger Explorer book sold at park sites. This is a great way to keep memories of your visits. I also use the stamp on the Junior Ranger booklets or certificates to show which day I was at the park site.
Booklet, badge and patch