Photo Credit: Kenai Fjords Tours, Seward, Alaska

Alaska Day Cruises

Alaska Day Cruises  (:48)

A glacier cruise is the best way to see quintessential Alaskan coastal scenery: seals, whales, 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 and bald eagles.

Happily, such cruises are among Alaska’s most accessible tours. Cruises depart from most coastal towns. If you're cruising Alaska's Inside Passage, book a day cruise 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, compared to some other Alaska experience. 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.

Season: May 15 to Sep 19 $140+ 6 or 8.5 hrs

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.

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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.

Season: May 29 to Sep 15 $159+ 5 Hrs

Take a 5‑hour cruise out of Seward into Kenai Fjords Nation­al Park. Look for glac­i­ers and wildlife from the M/V Bravest, a 127-foot, high-speed, sta­ble cata­ma­ran that fea­tures an enclosed heat­ed seat­ing area with large win­dows and two out­door decks.

Season: May 1 - 3rd week of September $399+ 8-10 hrs

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.

Season: Mar 06 to Oct 10 $89+ 3.5 hrs - Full Day

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

Season: Mar 11 to Sep 26 $105+ 5 to 8.5 hrs

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. 

Season: Year Round
$435+ Day-trip | $470+ 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.

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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.

Season: May 01 to Oct 02 $159+ 5.5 Hrs

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

Season: Year Round $175+ 3.5 to 9 hrs

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

Season: Year Round
$435+ Day-trip | $470+ 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.

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Juneau View All

The only spot in Alaska where companies guarantee whale sightings • Spot humpbacks, orcas, and even grey or minke whales

Season: Apr 24 to Oct 14 $110+ 3.5+ hrs

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.

Season: May - September $119 3.75 hrs

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

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Portage

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.

Season: May 28 to Sep 06 $45+ 1 hr

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. 

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Hoonah / Icy Strait Point View All

One of the largest populations of humpback whales • Small group tours

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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.

Season: Year Round $75+ 2 hrs - Full Day

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.

Season: Mid April to September $195+ 3/4 to Full Day Excursions

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. 

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Ketchikan

Zodiac & small group tours • Great shore excursion during a cruise

Season: May 02 to Oct 09 $155 2.5 hrs

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!

Season: May to September $200+ Fishing, $100 Wildlife Viewing 2 hours - Full Day

You’ll find out why Ketchikan is famous for salmon with Cap­tain Jared of Rainy Day Char­ters. Leave the cruise ship crowds behind for an authen­tic Alaskan expe­ri­ence, sur­round­ed by water, wilder­ness and wildlife. It’s a per­fect excur­sion for a half-day in port, even bet­ter if you have more time to fill your entire box with fish.

Season: Late April-early October $147 per person 4 hrs

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

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