Seward Cruise Port and Transportation

Holland America, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line all use the Port of Seward as the northern end of their 7-day Alaska Glacier Cruises sailing to and from Vancouver B.C.   Seward is a fantastic location to launch further explorations in Alaska to such locations as the nearby Kenai Fjords National Park and beyond to Denali National Park. Seward is located 127 road miles from Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.  Important because Anchorage is also the location of the South-central Alaska’s only airport that has daily domestic and international flights.  Seward and Anchorage are linked both by highway and the Alaska Railroad so cruise passengers can choose to either travel by motor coach via the scenic Seward Highway or by the Alaska Railroad. A great option that Alaska Tour & Travel operates is the Park Connection Motorcoach, our scheduled, twice daily, motor coach service between Seward and Anchorage with same day connections to Denali as well.  

Northbound cruises arrive in Seward early in the morning.  RCCL and Celebrity arrive by 3:00am, Norwegian at 5:00am while Holland America arrives later at 6:00am.  There’s no need to get up in the middle of the night as disembarkation won’t start until about 6:15am.  The good news is that the cruise ships clear U.S. customs days before so there is no due to customs and immigration in Seward. You will typically wake to the Captain’s first call welcoming you to Seward and announcing that disembarkation will begin shortly.   For cruisers with independent transfers from the cruise dock, you’ll claim your luggage in the terminal. Almost all other disembarking cruisers will receive their luggage at their final destination in Anchorage.  If you are on a cruise-tour, you’ll receive your luggage at your final destination that day.  Disembarkation is normally completed by about 9:30am.  The Park Connection has a 9:45am departure from the Seward cruise dock to Anchorage on Fridays when Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises as well as on Mondays when the Norwegian Sun is in Port.

Southbound cruises start embarking at 11:30am, Noon at the latest.  Typically there is an initial backup at check-in but the lines quickly clear until about 2:30pm when the bulk of the cruise line transferred passengers begin to arrive from Anchorage.   The City of Seward operates a complimentary shuttle into town from the Cruise Ship Dock that once you’ve checked in you can use to explore during the afternoon.

If you are staying in an Anchorage hotel the night prior to embarkation you can take the Alaska Railroad’s Coastal Classic daily service to Seward.  The Coastal Classic sells out regularly so book your rail transfer early! The only challenge with the rail service is that the depot is located just far enough away from the Seward dock that it’s too far to walk for most folks.  So you’ll have to arrange for one of Seward’s few taxis to take you over to the dock.  The good news is that the cruise lines will pick up your luggage from the Anchorage Rail Depot and deliver it to your cabin on board your ship in Seward so you don’t have to carry it yourself.

A huge tip, with the Coastal Classic arriving at 11:05am you have plenty of time to take an afternoon tour in Seward to Kenai Fjords National Park, a hike to Exit Glacier where you can physically walk on and touch a glacier, or take a dog sled ride before embarking.  The tour operators will pick you up at the depot, take you on their tour then deliver you to the cruise dock in time to embark and have dinner on board your cruise ship before your cruise sails from Seward.  If you’re not interested in taking the train to Seward the Park Connection Motorcoach provides service from Anchorage and Denali, both of which will get you in Seward in time for dinner on board your cruise ship.  Be sure to put your cruise ship luggage tags on your bags before you leave Anchorage because regardless of if you take the train or the Park Connection to Seward, once you board in Anchorage you won’t see your luggage again until it arrives in your cruise ship cabin on board.

Many visitor’s to Alaska combine a cruise to Alaska with an Alaska land tour that includes Denali, but if you aren’t able to spend that much time in Alaska, one option would be to add one or two days and spend it in Seward.  Seward’s lodging is excellent and many visitors’ say a day trip to Kenai Fjords is a highlight of their Alaska vacation.   Seward also has excellent fishing, hiking, and kayaking opportunities and is home to the Alaska Sealife Center.


  1. Virginia L LUNN
    December 3rd, 2017 | 1:14 pm

    We are 2 adukts arriving on Holland America Line 9th September 2018 and atre wanting a coach to collect us at the ship terminal and travel through to Denali Park. We have booked the Rainbow Hotel in Denali. Would you please be so kind as to email be back to let me know if you can do this and how much as we would like to book

  2. December 4th, 2017 | 9:14 am

    The Park Connection Motorcoach provides scheduled service from Seward to Denali National Park every day of the summer. The coach leaves at 10:30am from the Seward Small Boat Harbor, makes a stop in downtown Anchorage at the Anchorage Museum. In Anchorage passengers can enjoy lunch on own or explore the Anchorage Museum before departing Anchorage at 3:00pm. The coach arrives in Denali at 8:30pm. The closest place we can stop at in Denali is the Denali Princess Lodge which is right across the street from the Rainbow Hotel.

  3. January 6th, 2018 | 6:11 pm

    We are planning to take a NB cruise from Vancouver to Seward in June 2018 with Norwegian. Our current plan was to go to Anchorage the same day, pick a rental car and drive to Denali. We have a hotel booked for 2 nights in Denali. Our plan is to return to Anchorage in 2 days and fly home. Would the drive from Seward to Denali be too much for one day? Our family is used to long travels, we have driven 10-12 hours atleast once every year.

  4. January 8th, 2018 | 12:23 pm

    Hi Rakshi, no its not too long of day from Seward to Anchorage, then onward to Denali. The Park Connection Motorcoach departs from the cruise dock at 9:45am and arrives in Anchorage at Noon and drops either at the airport or downtown Anchorage. You could then rent a car for the trip north. We could help book both and give you some suggestions fro your time in Denlai if you’d like, just call us at 800-208-0200.

  5. Kathy
    January 19th, 2018 | 11:47 pm

    Hello. Our NB Celebrity Millenium arrives in Seward on 24th August 2018. My husband and I have booked the Coastal Classic train trip (6pm) to Anchorage, independently of the ship tours. We will most likely carry our own luggage off the ship. We want to spend the day in Seward prior to the train trip. I understand that the train’s check-in time (incl. luggage) opens at 10am that day. Do you happen to know where exactly is the check-in located, please? Also, is it an easy (even if it’s a bit long) walk to downtown Seward; or is there a free or paid shuttle to and from downtown? If there is a shuttle, do we have to go back to the cruise terminal to get it? I’ve tried to search for this information, without success. Thanks so much, in advance.

  6. March 7th, 2018 | 9:24 am

    Kathy, the City of Seward operates a free shuttle from the dock to the small boat harbor and further to downtown Seward. Its also walkable in good weather. The ARR depot is about a 10 minute walk from the cruise terminal as well.

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