Glacier and Wildlife Spotting with Kenai Fjords Tours

By this time we’d been in Alaska over a month and we’d only briefly been on the water during our float plane flight to Brooks Camp. We’d seen a number of bears and other land wildlife, all awesome of course, but we were hankering for some whales – we were looking forward to this tour. This cruise with Kenai Fjords Tours was one of only a few experiences we’d actually booked before arriving in Alaska. Disclosure: Renee and I were given discounted rates.

If you only have 3 minutes you should watch the video I made showcasing our experience on the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour. If you enjoy, please give it a thumbs up on YouTube and share it with your friends.

Tour Details:

6 Hour National Park Tour provided by Kenai Fjords Tours out of Seward on the Kenai Peninsula.

  • Runs from May 10 – September 29, 2013
  • 6-hour cruise (11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
  • Healthy chicken caesar wrap for lunch
  • Wildlife guide
  • $144.00 Adults / $72.00 Children (2-11), plus tax and fees

We’d hired a rental car in Anchorage, so with our car we’d driven to Seward and picked up our tickets the day before, then we boarded the boat at 11.15am for the 11.30 departure time. On our way out of the harbor we listened to the brief safety talk while we scoped out our favourite positions to photograph wildlife from. We figured the front of the boat (downstairs access only) would be best for dolphins/porpoises, while upper levels could have better general views and easier access to all sides of the boat. The tour boats will no doubt vary, we had a large catamaran.

We were immediately impressed by free hot drinks and apples, then our stomachs were further pleased by lunch. A chicken caesar wrap with a packet of baby carrots and a muesli/granola bar on the side.

Our Boat

Large comfortable catamaran with good viewing inside and out. We had a calm day with clear skies which made it a very enjoyable ride with no sea sickness.

We would see plenty of wildlife!

Our captain started narration as we neared some rocky islands where stellar sea lions were expected to be hanging out on the rocky sides, sure enough a mass of sea lions were bathing as we rounded the island.

In a large bay we found a mother and pup harbor seal and got our first sightings of puffins.

Around another bay and we spotted a flotilla of sea otters – nervous critters that they are we had to be really quiet around them, when we weren’t or when we were just motoring past they would turn and dive in an instant. Sea otters dive to around 300 feet to feed and live entirely in the ocean so they are more than capable of escaping day tours. That said, they were hunted nearly to extinction by the early Alaskan settlers until they were put under protection in 1911. They’ve since staged a pretty remarkable comeback.

Humpback whales were next as we rounded a headland and saw one, then two feeding. They would breath on the surface and then dive for around five minutes. We could have spent hours watching the whales but the cruise does have to roughly stick to the stated itinerary to please all guests and you never know what else may be out there waiting to be spotted – orcas we hoped.

We went to Aialik Glacier where we easily spent fifteen minutes, probably half an hour chilling out in front of the glacier getting photographs and hoping for calving (when the glacier drops ice into the sea to form icebergs). Make sure you take your sunglasses, the glacier is BRIGHT.

Later we had a brief encounter with a pod of Dall’s porpoise but they didn’t stick around long; playing briefly around the boat and then disappearing. Dall’s porpoises are the fastest small cetaceans around, capable of speeds up to 55 km/hr – they will come and go as they please. We then cruised out farther in the hope of spotting more marine mammals, again we had our fingers crossed for orcas, but alas on this trip we didn’t see them.

On the way back we spotted more sea birds, more stellar sea lions, more puffins, more sea otters and a few bald eagles.

A Day of Beautiful Scenery on the Water in Kenai Fjords National Park

When we weren’t spotting wildlife we were basking in the sun, happy we’d lucked out with such a beautiful clear day and enjoying our pristine surroundings.

Overall – Highly Recommended!

Overall we had a great day on the water with Kenai Fjords Tours, so much so we almost booked to go out the following day as well! Since we were in Seward at the end of the season the 6 hour tour was the only one still operating, if I were to go back I’d visit at a time when the 8 and ½ hour cruise was running so that I could see Fox Island as well.

Comments

  1. Such a fun day, wish we could go again!

  2. this is an awesome post and I envy the beauty of wildlife here as you captured. Impressive video too and the photos, priceless.

  3. Looks like an amazing experience Sam! This is somewhere I have to go, so much wildlife. Happy travels :)

  4. Princess says:

    Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and
    look forward to new posts.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Barely five minutes after moving off the jetty we were already watching our first humpback whale. It was feeding in the mouth of the harbor, diving for around five minutes and then coming up for air. This particular whale had been feeding for months around Whittier at the time we did our tour. We got some really good sightings of it, better than we’d experienced out of Seward. […]

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