“As you cruise out on glacier-filled waters, watching seals play in the pristine waters, you hear a distant rumbling. You turn just in time to see one of nature’s most dramatic sights: a house-sized block of ice shearing off a tidewater glacier and crashing into the ocean. Taking a glacier and wildlife cruise is a magical experience. Over the past 10,000 years, glaciers have sculpted the face of Alaska like no other natural force, moving mountains and carving valleys. And cruising is the best way to get up close and personal with these icy behemoths. You’ll also get close to Alaska’s unique animals. Passing through gorgeous inlets and fjords, you’ll look for bears, mountain goats, bald eagles and puffins. Then sail into waters jumping with seals, porpoises and sea lions.”
Prince William Sound has the densest concentration of tidewater glaciers in the world, some flowing a dozen miles from ice-capped peaks to terminate in cliffs of ice towering hundreds of feet above the water. You’ll also see spectacular waterfalls and wildlife, including bald eagles, seabirds, otters and occasionally whales, but typically not on the same frequency as in Kenai Fjords.
Logistics: Full day or half-day tour boats depart Whittier, which is 1.5 hours by car from Anchorage or Kenai/Soldotna; or 2.5 hours by train from Anchorage. There is a very short gravel airstrip in Whittier that is probably not suitable for Cirrus aircraft.
Kenai Fjords are best suited for people more interested in spotting whales, sea lions and harbor seals while out glacier watching. Shorter cruises stay in Resurrection Bay and view glaciers at a distance; longer cruises go all the way into Kenai Fjords National Park to the face of impressive tidewater glaciers that calve, but not on the same scale or frequency as in Prince William Sound.
Logistics: Full day or half-day tour boats depart Seward, a town on the Kenai Peninsula. Seward is 2.5 hours by car (4.5 hours by train) from Anchorage. Seward (PAWD) has a paved runway which is quite suitable for Cirrus aircraft and it is a very short flight from Anchorage or Kenai. If flying, be sure to fly by any of the many glaciers on the Kenai Peninsula (none more than 6,000 feet high). See either the Anchorage or Seward NACO sectional map for details.