Upon pulling into port in Alaska, they’re eager to explore Alaska by land: they see the sights in Anchorage, maybe explore the outdoors a bit (maybe by hiking), and try to catch a glimpse of Denali. Most visitors don’t necessarily think to hop back on a boat and explore the waterways looking for wildlife.
After a lifetime of traveling in Alaska – growing up there, visiting repeatedly since my family moved away – day cruises are one of my favorite Alaskan activities. There’s nothing like boarding the ship in Seward, eager to see whales and otters on a day in Kenai Fjords.
The Best Cruise from Seward: Major Marine Tours
In the past three years, I’ve done two cruises with Major Marine Tours… that’s probably more than most local Alaskans!
In each occasion, the weather could not have been more different: the first featured sapphire blue skies and smooth seas and the second was rainy and eight- to twelve-foot swells.
On my second trip, Mr. Valise helped me shoot some video, which I’ve put together here.
Admittedly, I spent most of the cruise with my head on my arms feeling very motion sick – my #1 pro-tip is to bring Dramamine if you’ve got a sensitive stomach!
Aboard a Major Marine Cruise, you’ll spend 3.5-8 hours cruising through the open bay and fjords of Kenai Fjords National Park. During that time, you’ll see glaciers, wildlife, and stunning scenery.
Click below to explore the Major Marine Tours options:
- 3.5 Hour Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise
- 6 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise
- 8.5 Hour Kenai Fjords Northwestern Fjord Cruise
I took the 7.5-hour tour in 2014, and the 6-hour tour in 2017. I prefer the 7.5 hour tour but they don’t offer that one anymore.
Exploring Kenai Fjords National Park
You might wonder, as a visitor to Alaska who’s just gotten off a cruise ship, why to do a cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park.
Kenai Fjords, the local’s shorthand name, is a 1,000 square-foot park established in 1980. The park is home to Harding Ice Field, which is the source of 38 glaciers, including Exit Glacier. Like their Norwegian namesake, Kenai Fjords are glacially carved fjords that range from 600ft to 1000ft deep.
Kenai Fjords is also home to almost every land mammal, sea mammal, and sea bird that calls Alaska home. It’s not uncommon to see mountain goats, killer whales, sea otters, and puffins. At certain times of the year, you’ll also see migratory birds, humpback whales, and Steller sea lion in surprisingly large numbers.
While there’s no guarantee you’ll see wildlife in Kenai Fjords, you’ve got great chances. On large ships that cruise to and from Alaska, most wildlife will give the ships a wide berth. These smaller ships have better chances of seeing whales and other sea life since they’re less disruptive. Sometimes, the whales going about their business – feeding, breathing – come quite close!
Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the most accessible for visitors who come to Southcentral Alaska, a 90-minute drive from Anchorage. For most visitors, it makes sense to stay a night or two in Seward, so read on for a guide to that small Alaskan city.
A Guide to Seward, Alaska
Seward is a small town on the southern coast of Alaska, home to 2,700 hardy souls. Established in 1793 as a trading post by Russian fur trader Alexander Baranov, Seward grew through World War II, and gained notoriety for the massive damage it sustained in the 1964 earthquake. Over time, the town has begun to grow beyond its fishing roots with restaurants, bars, and tourist sights developing to support the cruising tour operators.
There’s a ton to do in Seward, so much that I ended up writing a post about all the things I recommend. These include:
- Visiting the Alaska SeaLife Center
- Hiking at Exit Glacier
- Trying local beer and food (especially at Seward Brewing Company)
- Exploring the marina and Waterfront Park
- Tidepooling at Lowell Point
But there’s a ton more too – so be sure to check out my post above.
That’s just about all you need to have a great day aboard a Major Marine Tours cruise from Seward. Let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments or join me in my Alaska Travel Tips Facebook Community!
This post was produced in partnership with Major Marine Tours, in exchange for my two trips in the past several years. It was originally published in September 2014 and updated in August 2017.
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