Plenty of whale tours let you watch the orcas and humpbacks as they breach and spout from the water—but not many also let you eavesdrop on the big mammals' conversations. This 3.5-hour tour out of Juneau is equipped with an amplified hydrophone system; listen to the whales underwater while enjoying the lush rainforest views. Onboard the North Star—a 48-passenger jet boat with large windows, an outside viewing deck, and a comfortable inside seating area—you’ll stay warm and dry while you listen to the whales and the narration of an onboard naturalist.
A fleet of fast, modern boats takes you to specifically selected tidewater glaciers as you watch for puffins, cormorants, sea otters, Dall’s porpoises, sea lions, and more. This veteran tour operator offers a lot of variety with its day trips into Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. Some tours are designed to please birders or shutterbugs, while some are perfect for families with little kids. You’ll hear the captain’s narration on all of them, sharing his deep knowledge of the Seward area’s history and terrain.
Major Marine Tours will take you into Prince William Sound, which has the world’s densest concentration of tidewater glaciers and calm waters for cruising. You can choose from the 4.5-hour Blackstone Glacier Tour or the new Surprise Glacier Tour that began in 2012. Both offer heated cabins, outdoor viewing decks, and an all-you-can-eat salmon and prime rib buffet.
Phillips 26 Glacier Cruise, out of Whittier, will take you to 26 different glaciers in just 5 hours. Enjoy cozy comforts on the high-speed catamaran and wander its outdoor decks as you come within 300 feet of massive tidewater glaciers. In addition to glaciers, the captain will be on the lookout for wildlife like otters, whales, harbor seals, and marine birds. The trip takes place in the afternoon, and a hot lunch is included in your tour.
This family-run company operating out of Valdez will show you the best glaciers, with great customer service along the way. On any given day trip you’ll likely see huge rafts of sea otters, horned and tufted puffins, cormorants, humpback whales, or even bald eagles. Stan Stephens offers two daily tours, one of which features Columbia Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in South Central Alaska. And the company prides itself on staffing its vessels with all local Alaskans.
Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords are great places to see wildlife and glaciers. And Major Marine’s vessels, which have cozy heated cabins and an outdoor viewing area, can take you out to see both. The half- and full-day excursions offer an all-you-can-eat salmon and prime rib buffet to enjoy while you take in the scenery.
Lazy Otter offers classic tours, but this is water taxi, so they’ll also take you anywhere you want to go within Price William Sound—or just customize a tour to whatever you want to see. Maybe that's glaciers, or whales,—or maybe it’s quiet time on a secluded beach, or a peaceful morning kayak among sea life such as otters and puffins. Lazy Otter can also help facilitate taking you and your family on a camping trip. You're not held to any strict schedule, either: if, on a day tour, you can spend more time in one spot if you want to see if a glacier will calve.
Get great views of glaciers, whales and wildlife, while also getting a great chance to catch the fish that make Alaska's waters famous. In business since 1991, this Seward-based fishing charter company offers half and full day charters for salmon, rockfish, lingcod and halibut. Tours include gear, bait and as much instruction as you need (especially with those feisty halibut, which are nicknamed barn doors for their huge size). They'll even do your filleting afterward, and can help arrange to have your catches shipped home.
A family-run operation since 2005, Ashore offers a few basic tours—wildlife and bird viewing—but also takes travelers to the camping sites, cabins and activities all around Kachemak State Park. The 24-foot Blackfish seats up to six. The water-taxi captain is the company's owner, Dave Lyon, who gives an authentic insider's tour: Lyon has more than 20 years' professional experience on local waters. Feeling adventurous? Rent a stand-up paddle board.