Orca Whale in Resurrection Bay

The Season of Orcas

As a deckhand with Major Marine Tours for four seasons, Kirsten McNeil has experienced countless memorable wildlife encounters. For the 2017 season, her last year as a deckhand, Kirsten reflects on an incredible year of sightings of one of the most sought-after wildlife encounters: the orca whale. 

When you board a Major Marine Tours cruise out of Seward, the captain or National Park Ranger onboard will ask you, “What do you want to see today?’. For some, the answer takes time to think about, and for others they are eager to respond with their favorite animal. Most of the time the […] Read More

Orca whale breaching on Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise

Deckhand Diary: The Weird and Wonderful – My 3 Strangest Wildlife Sightings in 2017

Offshore Orca

It started on a May morning with a line of black fins dotted against the pearly grey backdrop of Resurrection Bay, but by the time the Orca Quest tour left the Seward Small Boat Harbor the marine radio was crackling with the news of orca fins filling every corner of Resurrection Bay. “They’re acting like offshores,” a captain ahead of us passed on, the surprise in his voice audible even through the grit of the radio channel.

I felt a surge of hope as I stepped into the wheelhouse with Captain Justin, but shoved it down because these couldn’t be […] Read More

Seward waterfront

4 Reasons Why Fall is the Best Time to Visit Seward

The majority of visitors to Seward arrive during our peak season from June through August, when city streets are bustling with activity, the midnight sun allows for non-stop adventures, and migrating marine wildlife have settled in for a summer of feeding in Alaska’s nutrient-rich waters. As summer fades into fall and the sun begins to set earlier and earlier each day, the number of visitors to Seward reduces dramatically. By the beginning of October, the streets are quiet, the leaves are changing, and Seward seems like an entirely different place than it did only a month before. However, this shoulder […] Read More

Cruise Spotlight: 7.5 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise

Cruising in Kenai Fjords National Park is an experience like no other. Tidewater glaciers tower 500 feet above sea level. Incredible marine wildlife including orca whales, humpback whales, puffins, Steller sea lions, and Dall’s porpoises feed in the area’s nutrient-rich waters. Beautiful scenery can be seen in every direction: jagged peaks, quiet coves, islands, and the vast expanse of the Gulf of Alaska. No matter which of our three Kenai Fjords National Park cruises you choose, you will experience the spectacular beauty of this incredible area. However, each cruise offers something a little different. For the adventurous traveler who wants […] Read More

Fairweather Express II vessel in front of Suprise Glacier

Surprise or Blackstone: Which Prince William Sound Cruise Should You Choose?

You’ve decided to take a cruise into the stunning Prince William Sound, departing from the quaint harbor town of Whittier. Visions of calving glaciers and towering mountains dance through your head as you think of yourself cruising the glassy waters of the protected fjords and waterways. But which cruise should you choose? Major Marine Tours offers two cruise options into Prince William Sound offering two unique experiences. Read on to learn about the difference between our two Prince William Sound cruises: Surprise Glacier Cruise and Blackstone Bay Glacier Cruise.

What you will get with both cruises:

The name says it all: glaciers! […] Read More

Humpback whales bubble net feeding

Deckhand Diary: Bubble Netting is Back!

The world of a humpback whale moves with a motion so foreign that they may as well be swimming through outer space. Schools of sand lance or capelin cloud in whirlpools of silver bodies. With pectoral fins as graceful as wings, the humpback soars through the thick green of life. Their bodies curve around the silver clouds with a grace we will never see. They are the ballerina whales, hidden behind the curtain of the sea, dancing a life our land-heavy minds can never fully understand.

And then, for a few weeks each year, they erupt from that curtain in the […] Read More

Northwestern Glacier Panorama

The Northwestern Fjord Cruise: Major Marine Tours’ Small-Vessel Adventure Cruise

You are an adventurous traveler. You seek out up-close, personal experiences in vast, wild places — away from the crowds. You are a birder, a photographer, a wildlife enthusiast. Major Marine Tours offers a cruising experience for adventurers like you: the Northwestern Fjord Cruise. This small-vessel cruise is a truly unique trip catered to the adventure traveler who wants an off-the-beaten-track Alaskan experience.

While our other cruises into Kenai Fjords National Park explore the area on large catamarans, our Northwestern Fjord Cruise travels to remote areas of Kenai Fjords National Park on our smallest vessel: the Viewfinder. Carrying a maximum of […] Read More

Orca Quest Cruise

Deckhand Diary: Orca Quest

“I don’t know where to point my camera!” The girl on the bow voiced what we all were thinking. I stood on the bow of the Orca Song, on the inaugural Orca Quest tour, surrounded by orca on all sides. The straight dorsal fin of a male slid up through the calm waters of Agnes Cove. A female and calf appeared, splitting the reflection of the mountains around their wave-shaped fins. Another female surged through the surface, disappearing on a path directly towards our bow, and the boat went quiet as Captain Nat turned off the engines. This was my […] Read More

Birding at Hartney Bay.

Deckhand Diary: Cordova’s Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival

“No amount of reference materials will prepare you for the unexpected,” David Sibley told a packed auditorium at the Cordova Center during this year’s Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival. Nothing could better sum up the weekend that I spent with Major Marine Tours during the festival, where the unexpected took the form of hummingbirds above busy decks, blue-sky glaciers, more eagles than I’ve ever seen, and an extremely unusual sighting of a once-in-a-lifetime whale.

When I heard that Major Marine Tours offered round-trip transportation to Cordova for the shorebird festival, my first thought was that this might be my only chance […] Read More

Humpback breaching with vessel

Deckhand Diary: Sensing out NOAA’s Whale SENSE

Anticipation turned the air to chop as the captains and crew of Major Marine Tours walked through the glass doors of Seward’s Rae building, one carpool emptying after another, all of us gathered in from our separate projects to learn together about our new partner, Whale SENSE. Whale SENSE, an organization under the NOAA umbrella, had just come to Resurrection Bay, and we were here to learn what role the organization would play in the coming summer.

Here is what I knew: Whale SENSE existed to promote responsible whale watching by holding its participants to a standard of non-invasive viewing practices, […] Read More