Alaska Day Cruises
An Alaska day cruise is the best way to see quintessential Alaskan coastal scenery: seals, whales (like orca and humpback), puffins, and towers of ice crashing into the water. Passing through gorgeous inlets and fjords, you'll also get to look for bears, mountain goats clinging to craggy cliffs, and bald eagles.
Happily, such cruises depart from most coastal towns. If you're cruising Alaska's Inside Passage, book a day cruise while your in port from Juneau or Ketchikan. If you're flying into Anchorage, cruises depart from Seward, Whittier, Portage, Valdez, and Homer.
They also offer great value for the length of the excursion, and, the longer (5+ hr) cruises often include a meal. Finally, they're great for the whole family. Staff or onboard forest rangers lead programs for the kiddos to keep them excited and engaged!
Prince William Sound (from Valdez) View All
While it may not get as much attention as Seward or Whittier, Valdez—with five nearby glaciers—is an excellent starting point for day cruises. Besides the glaciers themselves, this side of Prince William Sound actually has a lot more wildlife than the Whittier side. Prince William Sound (from Valdez) is 5 hours east of Anchorage by car.
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 Southcentral Alaska.
There's only one glacier here, but it's an option for someone who doesn't have time to go into Prince William Sound or Kenai Fjords. Portage Glacier is just one hour from Anchorage, and the cruise is just one hour. Easy to fit into almost any trip.
Just an hour’s drive from Anchorage, the MV Ptarmigan let you get within 300 feet of the towering ice wall called Portage Glacier. You can also book a narrated motorcoach tour to take you to Portage Glacier.
Zodiac & small group tours • Great shore excursion during a cruise
Board a rigid-hull inflatable boat for a 20-minute ride out to a secluded island. Weave through a series of small islands with massive cliffs that rise hundreds of feet out of the ocean, check out active bald eagle nests and look for sea lions and seabird rookeries along the way. Once at the island, you’ll climb out on the beach, break out into smaller groups, and set off on a stunning hike on a boardwalk that snakes through the rainforest. ...more
Explore the gorgeous, dynamic scenery and wildlife around Ketchikan by getting out on the water in a low-impact Zodiac — an authentically Alaskan way to travel! Every expedition is different as there’s flexibility for some spontaneity. You can spend extra time in a place if there’s a magical, National Geographic-type moment happening!
Prince William Sound (from Whittier) View All
With iceberg-choked inlets and great mountain scenery, Prince William Sound has the densest concentration of tidewater glaciers in the world, but wildlife spottings are less reliable. Waters are very calm. Prince William Sound is 1.5 hours south of Anchorage, by car, or approximately 2 hrs 20 mins by rail.
Phillips 26 Glacier Cruise, out of Whittier, will take you to 26 different glaciers in just 5.5 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. ...more
Lazy Otter offers classic tours, but this is a 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. 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 ...more
Homer View All
One of the richest marine estuaries in the world, Kachemak Bay is a great place to spot wildlife, go fishing, and explore the surrounding wilderness. Choose your own adventure by taking a custom sightseeing tour or water taxi. Homer is roughly 4.5 hours south of Anchorage by car.
Homer is the halibut capital of Alaska, and this longtime charter company offers a blue-chip way to get to the fish. They have high-quality boats, experienced captains, and enthusiastic crews — as well as an inside line on finding halibut, rock fish and silver salmon. But they also offer a variety of other ways to enjoy the waters off Kachemak Bay, from wildlife cruising to paddling a kayak or hiking in Kachemak Bay State Park.
Whether you’d like to go on a personalized boat tour of the Homer area or take a water taxi to the Alaskan backcountry, Homer is an ideal place to launch from, and Coldwater has the boats and expertise to get you there. Explore places like Kachemak Bay State Park, the small town of Seldovia, and picturesque Halibut Cove.
Spend 5 to 8 hours plying the gorgeous waters of Kachemak Bay on a luxury vessel. Your private group will have the opportunity to see different types of wildlife: Orcas, Humpback and Minke whales; sea lions; Dall’s porpoise; sea otters; puffins; seabirds; and more. Enjoy a gourmet meal aboard, stop in the village of Seldovia, or take a skiff ashore for beachcombing!
Kenai Fjords & Resurrection Bay (from Seward) View All
With emerald green fjords, rugged cliffs and coves, this is the route to choose if viewing wildlife is your priority. You'll see a few glaciers, but have an excellent chance of spotting sea lions, harbor seals, and even bears or mountain goats along the shore. There's also the greatest variety of tours here, some involving stopping for hiking, kayaking, or staying overnight in a lodge. The one downside: Tours that go past Resurrection Bay and into Kenai Fjords National Park can encounter choppy waters. Note: Seward is 2.5 hours south of Anchorage by car or 4 hours by rail.
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. This family-owned tour operator has gone above and beyond to give guests an amazing day on the water since 1990.
Get up close to the Alaskan glaciers and wildlife you came to experience by taking a cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park on a custom-built catamaran out of Seward. The difference from other cruises, is that you’ll then get off the boat and into a kayak, paddle around icebergs, and watch for wildlife from your own vessel.
Charter a sailboat out of Seward and hit the waters of gorgeous Resurrection Bay! Choose an afternoon tour if you’re just in Seward for the day, or opt for a multi-day cruise. Your charter comes with a seasoned captain, or experienced sailors can rent the boat and take the helm themselves. Surrounded by mountains, the bay offers ideal sailing conditions, and you’ll have plenty of chances to see wildlife and glaciers.
This veteran tour operator runs a a fleet of fast, modern boats in Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. You’ll visit tidewater glaciers as you watch for puffins, sea otters, Dall’s porpoises, sea lions, and more. Some tours are designed to please birders or shutterbugs, while others are perfect for families.
Intimate catamaran cruises into Kenai Fjords National Park from Seward for just 22 passengers, or up to 30 on private charters. Cruise through Resurrection Bay, keeping an eye out for humpback whales, orca whales (killer whales), puffins, Steller sea lions, Dall’s porpoise, harbor seals, and a large variety of bird species. Then make your way into the national park, and stop at the face of a tidewater glacier. You’ll enjoy a delicious lunch ...more
$4,000 Day-trip | $8,000+ Multi-day
Cruise Ship Type: Small Ship Cruises
Ship Name: M/V Caroline
Spend the afternoon, or a few days exploring the waters of Resurrection Bay and Prince William Sound aboard the M/V Caroline, a beautiful custom-built yacht set for adventure! It’s the perfect setting for a family or small group vacation. Fill your days lounging on the flybridge, fishing, kayaking, strolling beaches and cruising to your next fantastic destination.
Alaska Saltwater’s small-group whale watching, wildlife, and glacier tours offer daily excursions into the pristine Kenai Fjord National Park. Your captains and crew — experienced and well-versed in the area’s natural habitat — specialize in taking out film crews, professional photographers, serious birders, and guests that want an unforgettable experience.
Hoonah / Icy Strait Point View All
One of the largest populations of humpback whales • Small group tours
Juneau View All
The only spot in Alaska where companies guarantee whale sightings • Spot humpbacks, orcas, and even grey or minke whales
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 ...more
Juneau’s glaciers produce nutrient-dense waters making the waters a prime feeding ground for humpback whales. Alaska Tales’ boats are intimate (49 passengers max), and they’re super-fast, so you’ll get out to see the whales in no time. You also have the option of adding a stop at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center prior to your whale watching tour.