Our summer cruise aboard the Celebrity Millennium brought us all the way from Vancouver, Canada to Seward, Alaska, taking us through some of the most spectacular natural vistas in the world. But even though we were at our final port of call, a new adventure was about to begin. We had booked an ocean expedition with Kenai Fjords Tours — a 6 hour tour by boat to the spectacular Kenai Fjords National Park.
Kenai Fjords Tours offers a number of different expeditions, but we opted for the National Park Tour as it offered a great balance of depth without requiring a longer day. It would get us back to Seward just in time for our train departure at 6PM (they coordinate with the rail company to make sure no guests miss their train).
The tour would begin in Seward, at the head of Resurrection Bay, taking us past rugged coastal islands, then turning into Aialik Bay, home of the Aialik Glacier. If we had done an overnight in Seward, I would have considered the longer Northwestern Fjord Tour.
Their Resurrection Bay Tour, in my opinion, is too short to really immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area. Things get really interesting once you leave the confines of the bay.
Arrival in Seward
After a short (free) shuttle bus ride from the cruise terminal to the tour offices, we checked ourselves in and our belongings into their luggage room. Our bags would automatically get checked onto the train taking us to Anchorage later in the day. I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed by this operation — from the thoughtful logistics, helpful staff, and even their well executed brand identity, which I was a huge fan of.
With our bags checked and tickets in hand, we found ourselves with a little extra time to kill before our tour departed, so we ventured back outside to explore more of Seward. Apparently there was a local shuttle bus that could take us to the other end of town, but it proved to be elusive so we ended up taking a stroll down the main road and back along the waterfront, making a pitstop at the local post office to mail some extra things home that wouldn’t fit in our luggage anymore.
Off to Kenai Fjords
We casually made our way back to the Kenai Fjords Tours office by 11 AM. It was time to board our expedition vessel, the Coastal Explorer. Like all the expedition vessels we had experienced throughout our cruise, this one was equally comfortable and well appointed. A simple but delicious lunch of sandwiches and cookies was served onboard. Fun drinks were available for purchase at the bar, and water was freely available.
The Visual Bounty
Our captain was also our tour guide. Apart from being an experienced seaman, he delivered impressively rich commentary with the intriguing timbre of an NPR radio host and the gravitas of David Attenborough. He took us out to the Aialik Glacier in the heart of Kenai Fjords National Park. This was arguably some of the best wildlife and misty seascape viewing on our entire trip so far. We passed spectacular rock formations, sea lion colonies, whales and porpoises galore, and more sea birds than we could keep track of, though the puffins were particularly memorable.
The approach to Aialik Glacier was spectacular, with the veil of mist dramatically lifting just as we pulled up to its face. A colony of seals lounged on the ice floes at its base. At one point, the naturalist on board fished out a chunk of glacial ice and passed it around for a lick.
Back to Seward, Off to Anchorage
On the way back, we even got a rare glimpse of a fin whale. Our captain was particularly excited about that encounter. We finally returned to port around 5 PM after a full day of nature. But our day wasn’t done yet. We had a train to catch to our next stop: Anchorage. Read more about the next leg of our scenic journey.