In the early hours of morning, we crossed the bar and headed east into Endicott Arm fjord.  Opening our shades, we could see that we were dwarfed by nearly 7,000-foot mountain peaks on either side. Dozens of waterfalls streamed down the steep sides, more than most people see in a lifetime. Later, we gathered in the lounge to hear from the natural history staff and learn about the many exciting things we’re doing this week.

After lunch we embarked on Zodiacs for our first chance to see Dawes Glacier. Dawes is 15 miles long and flows downhill at a rate of four meters or 10-12 feet a day! The immensity of the ice face is astounding, and we were fortunate enough to experience many calving events. Illuminated by unusually sunny weather, glacial icebergs which act as homes to resting harbor seals floated around us. As we cruised down the fjord back to National Geographic Venture, expert eyes found a low-lying mountain goat nanny and kid. What a spectacular day!

The surprises weren’t over yet. We were awoken late at night and asked to bundle up and head outside to observe the Northern Lights. A magical event not many get to see, but those who do are truly lucky. It was an amazing first day exploring Southeast Alaska.