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Kenai Fjords National Park Day Cruise Options

aialik-glacierOne of the most popular national parks in Alaska is Kenai Fjords National Park [1]. Seward is the small coastal community located at the entrance of the park. Located about 130 miles south of Anchorage, Seward is easily accessible by car, bus or train. From Seward you can take a day cruise out to see all the park has to offer. Kenai Fjords National Park is known for great marine wildlife viewing, such as whales, sea lions, otters and lets not forgot its glaciers!

There are several types of cruises offered out of Seward [2]: “National Park” cruises that go 110-120+ miles round trip and shorter “Resurrection Bay” cruises that go about 55 miles round trip. It is important to understand that the longer the cruise the better chance you have to see wildlife as well as additional tidewater glaciers. It is also helpful to know that two companies operate Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay cruises – Kenai Fjords Tours and Major Marine Tours. Both companies have good reputations so choosing what company and what cruise to take really comes down to identifying which cruise is best for you based on your own preferences and schedule.

There are multiple National Park cruises [3] that depart daily. The earliest departure is at 8:00am and the latest is at 11:30am. Two types of boats are used, either single-hulled or catamarans. The catamarans are able to cover the same distance as the single hulled boats, but in a shorter time. They are also better for people susceptible to motion sickness.

The most popular cruises are the 11:30am National Park cruises, primarily due to their being perfect for visitors arriving off the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage and traditionally the vessels used on these departures are the faster catamarans. Kenai Fjords Tours and Major Marine Tours both offer 11:30am National Park Cruise departures. One difference in the two cruises is that Major Marine also provides a National Park Ranger on all their cruises. Both companies offer a meal – Kenai Fjords Tours is a deli style lunch with a chicken Caesar wrap and Major Marine Tours offer a more substantial buffet of prime rib and salmon. Be sure to check out our “Free Prime Rib Deal [4]” web special if you plan on taking this cruise! This departure is 6 hours in length and will get you back in time to catch the return train or evening Park Connection Motorcoach [5] to Anchorage.

If you have a full day in Seward you can cruise deeper into Kenai Fjords National Park into Northwestern Fjord.  Again, both day cruise companies offer Northwestern Fjord cruises.  The primary difference between the two are the size of the vessel – Kenai Fjords Tours [6] cruise it in a larger vessel with more amenities, and Major Marine Tours [7] in smaller, more intimate vessel, both receive high ratings. The Northwestern Fjord Cruise travels further into the National Park and is a good cruise if you have the time and want to maximize your time out on the water. Another great option is the Kenai Fjords Tours’ National Park Cruise with Fox Island [8] Cruise. The stop at Fox Island can be a nice chance to regain your sea legs on a rough day, enjoy barbeque salmon or prime beef, and walk the beach for a few minutes before re-boarding for the rest of the cruise. A National Park Ranger is based at Fox Island and provides a presentation in the island’s main lodge. Major Marine offers a 7.5 hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise [9] which spends more time out at Tidewater glaciers and leaves at 10:00am.

sea-otter-kenai-fjordsIf you have limited time in Seward or are uncomfortable on boats, a Resurrection Bay Wildlife cruise may be a good option for you. Like the National Park Cruises, both tour companies offer Resurrection Bay cruises which are about 4.5 to 5 hours long. The primary difference between the two is where your meal is – Kenai Fjords Cruises takes you to Fox Island where as Major Marine Cruises provides their dinner on board. So you have the choice of more time on the cruise exploring the bay, or the experience of getting off the vessel at Fox Island. Most of these cruises will give you the chance to see Bear Glacier, on the edge of Kenai Fjords National Park but if glaciers are your primary reason for taking the cruise, then a Resurrection Bay cruise is probably not your best choice.

These tours bring many visitors, both from outside Alaska and local Alaskans, to Kenai Fjords National Park every summer. The choice is yours on which cruise you take – just keep in mind that the more time you spend on the water the more chance you have to see wildlife and glaciers! If you need advice, we’re here to help guide you to the best choice based on your schedule, meals, and other considerations.