If you’re planning a visit to Alaska then there’s a good chance that you’re considering taking a glacier, wildlife day cruise, and there’s a good reason for that… They are amazing! We had the opportunity to take the 6 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise with Major Marine Tours out of Seward, Alaska and can’t recommend them enough! We saw tons of wildlife, an active tidewater glacier, and the captain navigated the boat through rough seas with ease. If you’ve never taken a day cruise like this, it can be a little overwhelming making sure you dress appropriately, bring the right gear, etc. For that reason we’ve put together a list of 5 things to know before you go to ensure that you have the best experience possible!
*Check out our "Alaska: Seward + Anchorage" vlog for a closer look at our time*
1. Take Dramamine BEFORE departing
Nobody wants to be the person who spent your hard earned money for this once in a lifetime experience and ends up breathing in a paper bag for the entire cruise just trying to keep your lunch down! Yet, a good 50% of our cruise did exactly that! Given, we went on a day that the Gulf of Alaska was angry, so there were some pretty intense swells, BUT even on a calm day, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
2. Wear Layers
If you go on a cruise with Major Marine Tours, the main seating area where you’ll find your assigned table/seat is climate controlled, which is amazing! But when you step out on the deck of the boat for wildlife spotting, the weather can get pretty intense. It was a cold, windy day when we went, so we were grateful that we had our winter jackets as well as our rain jackets to protect us from the elements. Again… better safe than sorry, and check the weather to see what you can expect on the date of your cruise.
3. Roam Around
Just because you are assigned a seat doesn’t mean you should stay in it. It’s highly encouraged to get out on the deck and peel your eyes for wildlife!
4. Bring Binoculars/Telephoto Camera Lens
Speaking of wildlife… On our cruise, most of the wildlife was a good 50-100 yards away. This isn’t always the case. Many times you will see wildlife much closer, but I would encourage you to bring a good pair of binoculars, or if your a photographer, bring a good telephoto lens. I would say a 70-200 lens (what I had) would be the MINIMUM length while a 200-600 would be more ideal.
5. Get the Glacier Margarita
You heard me right… Get the Glacier Margarita! If you take the 6 hour Glacier Cruise like we did, you’ll visit Holgate Glacier, and as you're leaving the glacier, the deck crew will fish out a chunk of the floating glacier ice which they promptly take to the on board bar where they shave off pieces to make Glacier Margaritas with the ice! I know it’s probably a little gimmicky, but when else are you going to have the opportunity to have a drink made with 20,000 year old ice?! The answer… NEVER!
*All of these are based on our experience on the 6 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. Check with your specific company to make sure that these are offered on your cruise.
Is there a bathroom? Yes, there is a bathroom! No need to panic at the thought of having to hold it for the entire 6 hour cruise!
Is there food and drinks on board? Yes. Our cruise came with a deli lunch (turkey, roast beef, Alaska salmon spread, or vegetarian... we got the Alaskan salmon spread and really enjoyed it)
Is it open seating? No… When you board, the cabin crew will inform you of your assigned table and seat. If you are in a smaller party (it was just the 2 of us) you will likely be seated with another party to maximize the seating.
Is the boat wheelchair accessible? Yes, it is wheelchair accessible on the first deck, inside the main cabin only. Outside decks are not wheelchair accessible.
What if I don’t want to take a 6 hour cruise? There are other, shorter options available if you don’t want to spend a full 6 hours on the cruise. Check with Major Marine Tours to see times and availability
Will there be narration? Yes! The captains do an excellent job at informing you about the wildlife, letting you know where the wildlife is, and general knowledge of the area
We hope that you found this helpful in your planning! Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions! You can find us on all social media platforms at @AdventuresofMattandNat.