The Season of Orcas

The MMT Blog / The Season of Orcas

Welcome back to the MMT Blog! After a few months off during the winter season we are getting the blog going again as we prepare for the 2016 season. It’s hard to believe, but our first cruise of the season departs in less than one month! Our Gray Whale Watching Cruise departs March 18th from Seward and we can’t wait to get back out on the water and explore the stunning landscape and incredible wildlife that calls Resurrection Bay home.

Harbor 360 Hotel

With the new season comes some exciting changes at Major Marine Tours. Our biggest announcement is our purchase of a waterfront hotel in Seward, Harbor 360 Hotel. Adding Harbor 360 Hotel to the Major Marine Tours family allows us to offer more cruise, hotel, and activity packages than ever before.

Harbor 360 Hotel offers some of the best views of any hotel in Seward. The hotel is located directly on the Seward Small Boat Harbor, where you can watch the boats come and go and enjoy the wildlife that frequents the harbor. You are likely to see sea otters, marine birds, bald eagles, and the occasional harbor seal right from your hotel window. A stay at Harbor 360 Hotel combined with a Major Marine Tours cruise gives you the full experience of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park, allowing you to enjoy stunning scenery and wildlife from the moment you wake up to the moment you tuck yourself into bed after a day of awesome Alaskan adventures.

For your added convenience, check-in for most of our cruises is located inside the hotel and boarding is at the dock directly behind the hotel. To accommodate all of our vessels, two of our cruises, our 5 Hour Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise and our 7.5 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise, will still check-in at our original South Harbor Office and will board at the Seward Small Boat Harbor E Dock. You can view our Seward Check-In Information Page for a map of our check-in locations.

Orcas and bear glacier

Every season on the water is different, and no day is like the one before. This year, with the addition of the Orca Quest Cruise, we had our best orca-viewing season yet! The early season started off with a pod of resident orcas that frequented the waters in front of Bear Glacier, surrounded by the still snow-capped mountains of Kenai Fjords. In May we saw a super pod of offshore orcas, an experience that only happens every few years. On this memorable day we saw at least 50 offshore orcas in Resurrection Bay. Later in the season, we witnessed breeding activities between different pods of resident orcas. Finally, during the last week of the season, when the humpback whales had migrated and the snow began to fall again, we were elated to see transient orca whales on 4 different days.

We had our last killer whale sighting of the season on October 12th. As we were headed back to port we came upon a pod of transient orcas right outside of the Seward Small Boat Harbor. Captain Josh said that this was the closest to the harbor that he had ever seen orcas in his 15+ years working with Major Marine Tours. Just as we were about to leave this transient pod, the orcas quickly changed direction and started behaving unusually by splashing around at the surface of the water. Suddenly, a large female orca surfaced just off of the port stern of the Orca Song and swam towards the bow. As she did, we noticed a large chunk of meat hanging out of the side of her mouth. We quickly realized that these orcas had just made a kill right by our vessel.

Of the four summers I have worked as a deckhand for Major Marine Tours, this was by far the most spectacular season for killer whales. The encounters, behaviors, and predations we were privileged to witness this year were indescribable. Most people will not have the chance to experience all of these behaviors in their lifetime, but perhaps you will have the chance to experience one of these amazing encounters on your next cruise with Major Marine Tours.


The Orca Quest Cruise offers the best chances of seeing orca whales in Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. This cruise is the only orca-focused cruise from Seward, operating the during the prime time for orca whale watching, from mid-May to mid-June. In 2018, the Orca Quest will be running May 14th – June 10th. Rather than following a set route, this cruise travels to places where orcas have recently been seen based on the captain’s communications with other vessels. We hope to see you in 2018 on the Orca Quest Cruise!