Destination Guides,  National Park Travel

The 17 Best Kenai Fjords National Park Cruises from Seward (2024)

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The sky is clear and the sun creates a million sparkles of light on the face of the ocean. A humpback whale erupts from the shallow waves in a full breach. A glacier cracks loudly making the phrase “white thunder” make sense as a giant piece of ice falls into the water. An otter rides the wake of our boat, holding onto a rock it will use to crack open the clamshell in its other paw for lunch. These are some of the quintessential experiences you can have on a Kenai Fjords National Park cruise.

Kenai Fjords National Park is both unique in Alaska – and very much like all of the other national parks in The Last Frontier. Like most parks, it’s isolated and hard to reach. This is made doubly so because most of Kenai Fjords National Park is only accessible by boat.

Major Marine Tours Review - Ship

Luckily, there are a number of cruise companies and a wide variety of cruise routes and itineraries to help you reach Kenai Fjords. In this post, I’ll break down the basics of each company. Then I’ll provide a ranked list of the best Kenai Fjords National Park cruise options. If you’ve got your heart set on visiting Kenai Fjords to see whales, glaciers, and wildlife, this will help you choose the perfect cruise for your trip.

(Oh, and to clarify a common question, be sure to read my comparison of Whittier vs. Seward to understand the differences between glacier and whale watching cruises from each place. Okay, let’s jump in!)

In this post, I promote travel to a national park that is the traditional lands of the Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) people. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in March 2021, and updated most recently in November 2023.

Who Offers Kenai Fjords National Park Cruises?

Before diving into the ranked list of the best Kenai Fjords National Park cruises, I want to quickly cover each of the companies that provide cruises in the national park. This will help you get a sense of why I ranked the tours in the order I did.

Note: I’ve listed these cruise providers in alphabetical order. If you want to see the ranked list of all Kenai Fjords National Park cruise options, scroll past this section.

  • Kenai Fjords Tours – KFT is one of two major cruise providers in Seward (the other is Major Marine Tours). They’ve been operating Kenai Fjords National Park cruises since 1974 and are well-reputed. I don’t think I’ve ever sailed with them as a kid, though it’s possible and I just can’t remember it.
  • Major Marine Tours – Major Marine is the company I usually recommend for people who want to do a Kenai Fjords National Park tour; they are the company I’ve cruised with multiple times.
  • Northern Latitude Adventures – A smaller cruise operator in Seward (like most things) has its benefits and costs. Their smaller ships mean you won’t feel like chattel on the boat like with some bigger operators (though in 2021, all of these companies are operating at reduced capacity); conversely, they cost substantially more for that more private experience.
  • Seacor Tours – Seacor is another smaller Kenai Fjords National Park cruise operator based in Seward. They sail on the M/V Outright, an aluminum catamaran that can fit up to 30 passengers. This makes for an intimate experience. They offer just one set cruise itinerary, a 6.5-hour Wildlife & Glacier Tour.
  • Seward Ocean Excursions – The final smaller cruise operator in Kenai Fjords National Park with a set itinerary (unlike the private/charter options mentioned below). They operate two boats and offer two cruise itineraries, for 3.5 and 6 hours.

A number of other, smaller companies offer private sightseeing charter cruises in Kenai Fjords National Park. Availability and price vary a lot, but if you are willing to pay and have a specific set of experiences you really want to have, this could be a great option. Here are the companies that offer private charters in Kenai Fjords (in alphabetical order):

  • 60 Degrees Adventure Charters – This company offers fully customizable charters in Kenai Fjords. They offer anywhere from a single day to multi-day adventures, starting at $2400 for an 8-hour cruise for up to 6 guests.
  • Alaska Coastal Explorer – Alaska Coastal Explorer focuses primarily on fishing charters, but they also offer a full-day Sightseeing charter that includes lunch. Group size is limited to 12.
  • Alaska Dream Charters – While Alaska Dream Charters focuses primarily on fishing charters, they also offer a Sightseeing/Photography Tour as a custom charter option.
  • Latitude 60 Marine – Their private charter option focuses specifically on whale watching and helping you try to see one (or more) of the five whale species in Kenai Fjords National Park.
  • Northern Latitude Adventures – In addition to the tours mentioned above, Northern Latitude Adventures offers a private “Full Day Excursion” and private charter option.
  • Resurrection Bay Sailing Charters – If you are an adventurous mariner type, this one’s for you! Resurrection Bay Sailing Charters offers a captained 3.5-hour “Day Sail” for up to six people for $769, with additional hours for $150/hour.
  • Seward Ocean Excursions – In addition to their pre-set Kenai Fjords cruises (mentioned above), Seward Ocean Excursions also offers both a custom Full Day tour and a “Custom Tour” option (for total customization).

The Best Kenai Fjords National Park Cruises Ranked

Whittier or Seward Hero

Okay, now that I’ve covered all of the companies that offer Kenai Fjords cruises, I want to provide you with a ranked list of all of the cruise itineraries they offer. These are all of the primary cruises offered during the Alaskan summer season. I cover each one briefly to explain why I ranked it that way.

2024 RankTour Name2023 RankDiff.Link
15-hour Resurrection Bay Tour with Fox Island (Kenai Fjords Tours)6↑5Link
28.5-hour Kenai Fjords National Park Tour with Dinner on Fox Island (Kenai Fjords Tours)1↓1Link
39-hour Kenai Fjords Ultimate Adventure (Northern Latitude Adventures)4↑1Link
48.5-hour Northwestern Fjord Cruise (Major Marine Tours)2↓2Link
54-hour Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise (Major Marine Tours)3↓2Link
68-hour Northwestern Fjord Tour (Kenai Fjords Tours)11↑5Link
76-hour Kenai Fjords National Park Tour (Kenai Fjords Tours)5↓2Link
83.5-hour Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay Half-Day Tour (Seward Ocean Excursions)12↑4Link
95.5-hour Glacier Dinner Cruise (Kenai Fjords Tours)7↓2Link
107.5-hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise (Major Marine Tours)8↓2Link
116-hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise (Major Marine Tours)9↓2Link
127.5-hour Kenai Fjords Glacier Odyssey (Northern Latitude Adventures)9↓3Link
136.5-hour Wildlife & Glacier Tours (Seacor)14↑1Link
143.5-hour Whale Watching Adventure (Northern Latitude Adventures)12↓2Link
153.5-hour Resurrection Bay Tour (Northern Latitude Adventures)12↓3Link
166-hour Tidewater Glacier Express (Northern Latitude Adventures)160Link
176-hour Tour Deeper into Kenai Fjords National Park/Aialik Bay (Seward Ocean Excursions)16↓1Link

Now I’ll go through the five best Kenai Fjords cruises in greater detail, since these are the ones I most recommend; if you don’t like the sound of these ones, I recommend checking the above list and clicking any that interest you – that will help you find the perfect tour for your Alaska itinerary.

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1. 5-hour Resurrection Bay Tour with Fox Island (Kenai Fjords Tours)

I’ll be honest: I was surprised when I crunched the numbers for 2024 and discovered a shorter tour at the top of my list. Hopefully, that reassures you that it’s not just my personal experiences and recommendations that created this list!

In any case, based on the combination of price and tour duration, my top recommendation for Kenai Fjords cruises in 2024 is the shorter 5-hour Resurrection Bay Tour with Fox Island stop, offered by Kenai Fjords Tours. Specifically, my guess is that while this is shorter than what I recommend based on my experiences, the price for this tour has gone up far less than other cruises – many of which have had major price increases in the past 2-3 years.

This tour is also more likely to occur as described: it’s one that can operate even on days with less optimal weather, and includes the Fox Island stop for a uniquely Alaskan meal as well as a decent amount of time for whale watching. If you’re short on time, nervous about seasickness, or just don’t want to spend a ton, this is a great tour – which is why it tops the list!

$130 for adults, $65 for children; book here.

2. 8.5-hours National Park Tour with Dinner on Fox Island by Kenai Fjords Tours

Things to Do in Seward Hero

If you’re looking for a tour that’s A) popular, B) has a good amount of time on the water, and C) a truly unique Alaskan experience, that is available in only one Kenai Fjords cruise: the national park tour with dinner on Fox Island offered by Kenai Fjords Tours.

I haven’t personally done this tour as of 2024, though I’ve heard good things about it: there’s plenty of time for watching glaciers and spotting wildlife, and you get to step on land and settle your stomach with a meal of fresh Alaskan food – including seafood pulled from the waters you’ve just been out exploring.

Since you’ll spend time on land, this cruise doesn’t go as far as some of the others on this list – but it’s a really nice option for balancing a variety of factors (including price!)

$217 for adults, $108.50 for children; book here.

3. 9-hour Ultimate Adventure Tour by Northern Latitude Adventures

It should come as no surprise that the longest-possible tour in Kenai Fjords makes my top-five list; it ranks further down because it is significantly more expensive than similar tours offered by Kenai Fjords Tours and Major Marine Tours. However, Northern Latitude Adventures runs on smaller boats, making this a much more intimate experience.

So the 9-hour Kenai Fjords Ultimate Adventure Tour should be on your list if you want the most time on the water watching whales and glaciers, want a more private experience, and are not sensitive to motion (since smaller boats are more likely to make you feel seasick!).

$499 per person, no child pricing noted; book here.

4. 8.5-Hour Northwestern Fjord Cruise by Major Marine Tours

Major Marine Tours is my favorite Kenai Fjords cruise operator, and this 8.5-hour tour is their longest tour that will take you to the furthest reaches of the national park. You’ll spend a whopping 8.5 hours out on the water – a great amount of time on a day with good weather (or a miserable unending slog if the water is choppy or has swells!).

Along the way, you’ll head deep into fjords to watch glaciers calf and skim the edge of the Gulf of Alaska with the best chances to spot whales and other wildlife.

$289 for adults and children 12+; this tour is not advised for children under 12; book here.

5. 4-hour Wildlife Cruise by Major Marine Tours

As I mentioned earlier, I generally advise that longer is better in Kenai Fjords, but perhaps you only have – or only want to spend – a half-day on your Kenai Fjords cruise. (There are plenty of other great things to do in Seward!) In that case, a shorter tour is best, and the 4-hour wildlife cruise from Major Marine Tours is my top recommendation.

You won’t go as far into Kenai Fjords as other tours given the shorter time frame, but as the name suggests, it’s a great chance to get out far enough to spot wildlife including otters, puffins, and – if you’re fortunate – whales! This is a great option for kids who love Alaskan wildlife, too.

$139 for adults, $69.50 for children; book here.

Seasonal Kenai Fjords Cruises

To wrap up this article, I wanted to include a short list of the seasonal whale-watching tours that are offered each spring in Kenai Fjords National Park. These are great if you’re planning to visit Alaska in the spring and want to get out on the water – though they are quite different than what’s offered during the summer months.

  • Kenai Fjords Tours offers a four-hour Grey Whale-watching tour starting March 14, 2024; be aware that Resurrection Bay can be a lot choppier during this time of year so plan ahead if anyone in your group is motion-sensitive. In the past, this tour was $80 for adults and $40 for kids, but I’m having difficulty confirming that this year as I don’t think tickets are available yet (as of November 2023).
  • Major Marine Tours also offers a spring wildlife cruise with a chance to see grey whales and other wildlife, which runs from March 8 to May 12, 2024. This four-hour tour costs a bit more than Kenai Fjords Tours’ (as do all of their tours); it’s $109 for adults and $54.50 for kids.
  • Major Marine also offers a late spring Orca Quest Cruise from May 13 to June 16, 2024. This is another short four-hour cruise focused specifically on visiting an area of Kenai Fjords where the salmon run early and Orcas are commonly spotted. It’s $139 for adults and $69.50 for kids.

*These are the currently published 2024 dates, and may change before next year’s season starts. Be sure to check the corresponding site to verify your travel dates will work.

Ready to book your Kenai Fjords National Park cruise? If you have any questions about these, let me know in the comments.

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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


      • Heather

        Hi and thank you for this! I’m looking at booking the Northwestern Fjord Tour soon (first week of August) and I’m wondering why the Kenai Fjords Tours ranking changed so much. I’m not especially prone to motion sickness but the bigger boat appeals to me over the Major Marine Tours’ smaller boat. I’d love your insight before I book.

        • Valerie

          Thanks for reading, Heather! Which ranking are you referring to? The main change that affected rankings this year were some pricing changes – likely driven by fuel costs. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either one, as long as you get as much time as you can on the water!

  • Hadassah

    Hi, I am planning a trip to Alaska next summer and will be visiting both glacier Bay national park and Kenai Fjords national park. I see that both recommend a day cruise option. Which park do you think I should do the cruise option for and the other park would just be by land?

    • Hadassah

      @Valerie, I get sea sick so trying to limit the cruise options. I will be flying into Gustavus and plan to stay in Glacier Bay and do a day cruise. But then I was wondering if I should be doing a day cruise also for Kenai Fjords or are they pretty similar? Can I see enough of Kenai Fjords if I just go by land?
      Thank you for answering my questions!

        • Dorothy

          Thanks so much for the info. They are super helpful. I am going in 2 weeks and am considering the 4 hours spring cruise. Major marine is about double the cost of Kenai Fjords. Do you have any insights why? Is it worth to pay more? Will I get better chance of seeing wildlife?

          • Valerie

            Hi, Dorothy! I think you might be in Alaska already, but I think with the spring cruises, you should go with whomever is cheapest. I hope that helps if you haven’t booked yet!

  • Ray Shoemaker

    We will be in Alaska from 5-16-2023 – 5-25-2023 and plan to do a 6 hour Kenai Fjords cruise on May 18. We are trying to decide between Marine Major Tours and Kenai Fjord Tours. In this article Kenai Fjord Tours is listed #5 and Marine Major is listed as #10. What makes Kenai Fjord Tours #5, ahead of Marine Major? What are the differences and pros and cons of each?

    • Valerie

      Thanks for reading, Ray. I cover pros and cons and differences, the main one of which is price, which is why Major Marine is lower on the list. I personally love Major Marine and am happy to pay more – especially as they’re an Alaskan owned business.

  • K

    Hi Valerie, I am travelling with older parents to Anchorage and Seward and wanted some recommendations on things we can do in these locations (that does not involve extensive walking and any walking is light to moderate). We have 1.5 day in Anchorage and 3 days in Seward.

    Seward – I am definitely looking at small boat tours but that still gives us maximum coverage and I did see your listing in the blog but reaching out on recommendations again! Would you recommend a day cruise of Kenai + Resurrection or just Kenai and do something else day 2?

    Thanks !

    • Valerie

      Hi, have you checked out the rest of my Alaska articles for ideas of what to do in various cities you want to visit?

      Regarding cruises, I’m confused by your question. Do you mean cruising Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay? They are the same waterway. If you cruise in Kenai Fjords, you will cruise through Resurrection Bay – there are also cruises of only Resurrection Bay; there are no cruises that are “only” Kenai Fjords. I recommend checking a map to get clarity on that.

  • Rosemary Steele

    Hello, We will be doing a whale watching trip on June 7 or 8. I was leaning toward the smaller boat. Can we see more or get closer to the whales with the smaller boat? I saw two small boat excursions, the Northern Latitude and Seward Ocean Excursions. Both are 3 and a half hours. Any preference betwee these two?

    • Valerie

      I have not cruised with either so am unable to provide a suggestion, but all boats have to comply with the same rules with regard to how close they can get… smaller makes no difference there.

  • Michael Perry

    Thanks for the great list of Kenai Fjord tour companies! We will be in Seward on May 22 and 23. I like the sound of the Seacor tour with just 20 to 22 passengers, but I’m wondering how choppy the water might be that time of year? Are the swells in May usually big enough to make even Seacor’s 47-foot catamaran uncomfortable? I know I don’t want to go on any of the smaller tour company’s 6-passenger boats, and I’d prefer to not be packed on the huge 150-passenger boats.

    • Valerie

      There’s no way to predict the swells, unfortunately. I’m super motion sensitive so I always opt for bigger boats… I will say, 20-22 passengers on a 47-foot catamaran is probably equally “packed” compared to the larger, more passenger boats.

  • Elia

    Ciao. Major Marine does not offer its NW Fjord tour until June 2, 2023. My options for late May are a 7.5 hour National Park with Major Marine or an 8 hour NW Fjord Tour with Kenai Fjords. Prices are close enough, the boat size appears about the same, and there’s only a half hour differnce. I liked my initial interaction with Major Marine (personal and knowledgeable) more than NW Fjord (offsite and could only offer canned responses and technical info). I guess my question before I commit is: is the venture into NW Fjord much better regadless of operator than into Aialik Bay? Thanks so much.

    • Valerie

      I’ve never heard of NW Fjord before – can you send me their website? I am always preferential toward Major Marine though!

      • Elia

        Hi. Sorry for confusing you and others. I am choosing between Major Marine and Kenai Fjords Tours. At the time of my visit, Major Marine offers a 7.5HR into Aialik Bay. Kenai Fjords offers an 8HR tour that goes into Harris Bay/NW Lagoon, or what they call Northwestern Fjord. I am leaning toward Major Marine. My question is whether you or others have an opinion that the Northwestern Fjord is so much better than Aialik Bay that I should reconsider my decision. Thank you.

        • Valerie

          Hmmm… to be honest, the glacier in Aialik is actually more impressive; all of the glaciers in NW Lagoon are barely tidepool at this point (due to receding) while Aialik (pronounced Aye-al-ick, if you’re curious 🙂 ) has much greater volume touching the water. My vote is Major Marine!

  • Matt

    Thanks for all the wonderful content! My wife, kids (8 and 11), and I will be doing a cruise from Seward to Vancouver with a couple days in Seward beforehand. We’re looking at doing one of these cruises, probably the 5-hour Resurrection Bay Tour with Fox Island (KFT) or the 4-hour Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise (MMT) tour since I expect they’ll get bored on the longer ones.

    Which of the two would you recommend for a family with school-age kiddos? Is there stuff to do on Fox Island to keep the family occupied?

  • Parissa

    Hi Valerie,
    Trying to figure out if we should do the 3:00 KFT 5.5hr. dinner cruise the day we drive in from Anchorage or do the 8:00am. cruise the next day – Which is also the day we need to drive back to Anchorage airport to catch a 8:20p.m Flight. I would love your opinion. Which do you thing would be better and less crowded?
    Tuesday- drive from Anchorage- Seward -3:00 cruise
    Wednesday- 8:00a.m cruise -afterwards drive to Anchorage airport for a 8:20pm flight.
    Thank you?

  • Katharina

    Hi Valerie,

    your website is great! I will be traveling fom Austria to Alaska in the first week of September 2024. I defintely want to do a whale watching tour. Unfortunately, I am very prone to seasickness. I now booked the 6-hours tour with Kenai Fjords Tours (especially because the price was much cheaper compared to Major Marine). Do you think that it makes a difference if I go on the 6-hours tour with Kenai Fjords Tours or Major Marine? I am happy for any tips! Thank you!

    • Valerie

      It will make no difference who you cruise with – it will all come down to the weather/seas that day! I always take dramamine and get well-hydrated; this usually helps me a ton as I’m also prone to seasickness. Good luck!

  • Peter

    Love your honest comment around the MaJor Marine Tours’ 8.5 hour tour that came in at number 4; it’ll either be a great experience, ‘(or a miserable unending slog if the water is choppy or has swells!).’

    I’m glad that I didn’t do too much research in advance of my July 2022 Kenai Fjords 6 hour tour, because I’m not certain if hearing too much about the possibility of rough waters making you sick might have steered me away, but I suppose in some cases, ignorance is bliss. We were fortunate to have a reltive calm day on the water (although I assume that no matter when you go, once you leave Ressurrection Bay and enter the Gulf Of Alaska, you’e going to notice, as we did, a little change in the choppiness of the waters).

    I think it’s great, then, that you placed a tour that minimizes the chance of rough waters at the top of the list.

    • Valerie

      Thanks, Peter! While I obviously have my opinions and what I prefer, my goal is to let the data and true “best” recommendation based on price, timing, and experience win out!

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