SPECIAL REPORT: Cruise-play-stay in Seward

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Face-to-face with the Aialik Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park.

Special correspondent Miranda Atkinson (above) spent a weekend in Seward. Here is her report:

Views out the window near Moose Pass.

There was no shortage of fall colors to admire on the scenic drive to Seward. September is coming to a close and the leaves are turning yellow and gold. 

Mountains reflecting on Tern Lake beside the Seward Highway.

When I arrived in Seward, the wind and rain made for a perfect evening (mostly) indoors at the Alaska SeaLife Center. After being mesmerized by Pilot the sea lion swimming lackadaisical laps in his enclosure, I enjoyed getting up close and personal with a few puffins.

Three puffins in an unusual moment of stillness.
A puffin takes flight inside the Alaska SeaLife Center’s aviary.

After the drive and a meal with a view at Chinooks, I checked in to the hotel to rest up.

Room with a view at Seward’s Harbor 360 Hotel.

The morning began with a piping hot cup of coffee on the balcony. The mist still was rising from the mountains across the harbor. I’m not a morning person, but this was a view worth getting up for. After check-out, it was time to board Major Marine Tour‘s “Kenai Fjords 360” for one of its final trips of the season.

A beautiful day in Resurrection Bay

Cruising from Seward Harbor into Resurrection Bay was awe-inspiring. Every traveler had either their camera or binoculars in hand and excitement in their eyes.

Mountaintop glaciers stand out against Seward’s signature blue-green water.
Zoom in to see the sea lions sunbathing on the rocks (at about 6 o’clock position)

As the boat entered Kenai Fjords National Park, we saw more groups of harbor seals and a colony of Steller sea lions (pictured, above). There was a chill in the air to accompany the strong sea breeze. But the sun shone bright through the salty ocean mist.

First glimpse of Aialik Glacier.
One slice of the Aialik Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park

After a little choppiness, or “motion of the ocean,” as the crew referred to it, everyone was thrilled to arrive at Aialik Glacier. The glacier is more than 3.5 miles wide, so there was a spectacular view from every angle. 

The crew on the Kenai Fjords 360 served up a delicious buffet of fresh-caught Coho salmon and prime rib. I had the chance to talk to families visiting from Salt Lake City, San Francisco and even a group who came all the way from the Philippines. The consensus was the same: no one had ever seen anything like Kenai Fjords National Park.

Major Marine’s signature “Glacier Margarita”

Before returning to Seward, the crew fished out a chunk of glacier ice. Then, they fixed up a batch of glacier margaritas (the cheapest margarita in Seward at a cool $4). 

The colorful Seward Small Boat Harbor.

The boat docked in time for a sunset shot. All of us walked up the gangway with wind-kissed cheeks and big grins after a day on the water. It was the perfect way to start the fall.

Resources:
Sail on the “Kenai Fjords 360” with Major Marine Tours.
Stay at the Harbor 360 Hotel.
Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center.
Eat at Chinooks. 

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