The amazing story of a cruise passenger, aged 79, who got lost on a glacier during a hike and spent a night alone in a park which had been closed because of bears has astonished adventurers.

The 79-year-old set out on a 19 km solo hike on August 3 to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Centre, but became disorientated and got lost.

She spent a night alone in the forest, without any camping or safety equipment, after missing the 4pm departure of the Coral Princess.

Her hike was not part of a tour.

When night fell, she settled in the forest near the glacier. This part of the trail has been closed in the past, due to bear activity.

When the passenger didn’t return to the ship, crew alerted police. Police and cruise ship employees called tour groups and hotels seeking information. A patrol officer spent four hours downtown asking people if they had seen the woman.

A multi-agency search organised that night failed to find the woman, but she hiked to Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Thursday morning, the Juneau Empire reported.

She was tired and wet, but otherwise unhurt. Police officers drove her to the airport, and she flew to Ketchikan to re-join her ship.

Speaking to local newspaper Juneau Empire, Nikki Hinds, assistant director of the visitor centre, said the woman “didn’t have camping gear, but she wore layers and a rain coat. I’m sure she was still cold, but it was a happy ending when she came in this morning”.

“She’s a hardy soul,” said Kirby Day, port manager for Princess Cruises. “She is a strong lady, and she knew what she was doing. She did all the right things except for making one wrong turn.”

It “was one of those [stories] that turned out good,” Day said. “We’ve had a couple over the years that didn’t.”

The name of the woman was not released. She was a passenger on the 294-metre Coral Princess, which has 1,000 passenger cabins and a crew of 895.