Cruise through the calm protected waters of Prince William Sound or beautiful Kenai Fjords National Park on a glacier and wildlife boat tour to gaze at glaciers and scan coastline for whales breaching in the distance or sea otters swimming playfully nearby.
Two popular day cruise options out of Anchorage offer this kind of adventure – Prince William Sound and Kenai Fjords National Park. Visitors are often confused about which is the better choice. Here’s the insider information:
Prince William Sound
Accessed from Whittier, Alaska, 60-miles (96.6 km) south of Anchorage, Prince William Sound is the more protected area with generally calmer seas. In fact, one tour company operating a catamaran in the Sound guarantees no seasickness upon a money-back return. The appeal of this cruise is mainly glaciers. Wildlife is often encountered such as sea otters, whales, sea birds and seals basking on floating icebergs, but it’s the incredible number of alpine, cirque, piedmont and active tidewater glaciers that are the most impressive aspect of this tour.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Located out of Seward, Alaska, 127-miles (204 km) south of Anchorage, Kenai Fjords National Park is weighted by wildlife. Glaciers are prevalent too, but it’s astounding how many animals can be encountered on one cruise, including orca, gray and humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, sea otters, Dall porpoises surfing the bow wave, or puffins and a multitude of other sea birds. Even land mammals are often spotted along the shore such as brown and black bears, or Dall sheep high on the mountain ridges.
So should it be a Prince William Sound or Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise – time permitting, why not make it both? Transportation is available from Anchorage. Most boats provide a prepared lunch and a captain and crew who enjoy telling tales of Alaska's wild waters. Glacier and wildlife tours run year round in Kenai Fjords National Park, although not as often in fall, winter and spring months.
For travelers short on time, there’s a third option.
Portage Glacier and the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center are just 50 miles south of Anchorage. Stroll along the ice-berg choked lake left behind by the retreating glacier and then hop aboard the MV Ptarmigan for a closer look.