The MMT Blog / A Day In The Life: 6 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise
Seward welcomed us with bluebird skies and 75 degree weather—the perfect temperature for a day on the water for our 6 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. Upon boarding, we were given our reserved table seats, allowing us to have a base camp for the whole cruise while moving about the boat to take in the sights from the multiple viewing decks.
Ten minutes after leaving the harbor we spotted our first wildlife – two adorable sea otters floating on their backs. Everyone ooohed and aaaahed at these cute marine animals for several minutes before Captain Josh announced that he spotted a humpback whale nearby. A juvenile humpback whale spouted several times against the backdrop of the Seward waterfront. Not too bad for our first 20 minutes on the water.
As the day continued we cruised out to Cape Resurrection to get a glimpse of the wildlife there. This is always a bustling spot, with Steller sea lions hauled out on the rocky coastline, dozens of species of seabirds circling overhead and nesting on the cliffs above, and bald eagles soaring or perched in trees. As we made our way across the Gulf of Alaska enroute to Aialik Bay we came across a small pod of orcas spouting in unison. Their impressive dorsal fins sliced through the surface of the water. We were soon treated to a visit by another small pod or orcas, and within about 20 minutes we saw at least a dozen orcas, from stately bulls to playful calves.
All the excitement got our appetites going, and as we cruised into the protected waters of Aialik Bay we were served the salmon and prime rib buffet. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a warm, satisfying meal while cruising through a glacier-carved bay. At the end of Aialik Bay was our next highlight: the mighty Holgate Glacier. A chilly catabatic wind rolled off the glacier, but that didn’t stop most passengers from spending time on the outside decks to see and hear the movement of the glacier. Holgate Glacier is a tidewater glacier, meaning that it flows from the mountains down into the ocean. The glacier is in a constant state of motion, and we were treated to several displays of calving, where chunks of ice broke off and fell into the water with a resounding boom. We spent about 20 minutes in front of the glacier, giving everyone plenty of time to get photos and appreciate the grandeur of this towering river of ice.
As we rounded Cape Aialik the telltale slowing of the boat meant that more wildlife had been spotted. Captain Josh announced that he sighted another humpback whale. We spent a few minutes with this whale, watching him spout and dive. Reports of another humpback whale in the area led us to Pony Point, where we spotted one humpback, then another, then another, and within a few minutes we counted at least seven humpbacks in the immediate area around the boat. We saw spouting, tail flukes, and the highlight of the day: three humpbacks spouted right next to the boat. Nothing gives you the sense of the true size of these magnificent animals than looking straight down on them from the upper deck as they cruise alongside the boat. It was truly an amazing experience.
We wished we could have stayed with this active group of humpbacks forever but our return time was fast approaching and we had to make our way back to the Seward Small Boat Harbor. On our return to the harbor we got yet another treat–this one was of the sweet variety–and enjoyed a dessert of brownies, cheesecake, and fruit salad. A sweet end to a perfect day on the water.
If you’re having a hard time deciding which cruise to choose, the 6 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise gives you a little taste of everything. There’s fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities, a visit to an actively calving tidewater glacier, onboard National Park Ranger narration, and salmon and prime rib buffet. This cruise also aligns with the Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic Train, making it a great day-trip opportunity from Seward.