Kenai Fjords, Alaska
Kenai Fjords, a coastal park west of Seward, is in fact Southcentral Alaska’s version of Glacier Bay. The list of attractions includes deep and steep fjords with glaciers crashing into the water, many marine animals (whales, orca whales, sea lions, seals and a variety of birds) and land animals (mostly bears) along the coasts.
(For those who don’t know, the word Fjord describes a deep bay with an elongated shape, straddled by steep mountains on both sides. Fjords are in fact valleys created by glaciers sliding towards the sea; as the glacier recedes, the valley fills with sea water, and eventually becomes a narrow long bay. Then you can call it a fjord.)
How to get there
Seward has a few companies offering various cruises in the park. The shorter cruises are focused on Resurrection Bay, that is the bay on the shore of which Seward itself is situated. These are usually short tours of 2-3 hours. Longer tours, 6-8 hours, leave from Resurrection Bay into open sea and west to the next fjord, Aialik Bay. Personally I think that’s does the trick, but if you’re really into it there are also cruises to a farther bay called Northwestern Fjord (9 hours). Of course, the longer the cruise the higher the chance of encountering whales and other animals, but you do have a pretty good chance in 6-8 hour tours. Lunch is included in the ticket price of almost all cruises, and some even stop on Fox Island on the way back to Seward for a grilled salmon dinner.
Waves and cancellations
The section between Resurrection Bay and Aialik Bay or Northwestern Fjord is open ocean, and might be a little rocky. The Kenai Fjords cruise companies make it a point not to sail when the waves are too high (this happens a few times a summer), but experience shows that they are decent and if there’s a cancellation you get your money back. Anyway, if you get sea-sick, you can buy sea-sickness tablets or wristbands – an especially good idea if you have kids.
- Major Marine Tours
- Exit Glacier
- Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
- Kayaking in Kenai Fjords NP
Operating day cruises into Kenai Fjords National Park, Major Marine Tours is a locally owned operation, in business for over 25 years. Their cruises vary in length from 3.5 to 8.5 hours, with great meals available on the longer departures. The boats are usually not huge (about 100 people), allowing for fantastic wildlife viewing and personal experience.