Whale Watching Cruises in Seward, Alaska: A Guide

Seward is something of hub for whale watching cruises in south central Alaska. Several companies offer whale watching cruises or wildlife cruises that include whale watching, and if you are engaged in some sea-based activity that isn’t directly connected to viewing wildlife, you still might see whales. Basically, Seward is a really good place to whale watch, and if you have any interest in doing so, you shouldn’t have any trouble arranging a tour. As is frequently the case, though, it’s not easy to find and compare all the relevant opportunities, so we’ve done our best to impose some order on the whale watching cruises that are available. We have, in short, created a guide to whale watching cruises in Seward that will help you pick the right tour for you.

Seward, a town of about 3,000 people, is located near the center of the southern coast of Alaska. It is on the Kenai Peninsula, somewhat near Homer, and it is located right by the Kenai Fjords National Park, where so many nature and wildlife tours take place. The main types of whales people see are humpback and killer whales, the latter of which are around year round, although a lot of tours only operate during the summer. It is also common to see gray whales during the spring, when they are migrating north. Other types of whales are occasionally spotted as well, like fin and minke whales. Whether a cruise is specifically aimed at seeing whales or has a broader wildlife-viewing mandate, you’ll likely see lots of other marine life in addition to whales, including sea otters, seals, and a variety of different seabirds.

One difficulty with finding whale watching cruises is that they often aren’t classified as such. This problem is more or less unique to Alaska, and we suspect it has something to do with the abundance of wildlife in the state. To call something only a “whale watching cruise” is to restrict a tour’s true scope. Thus, in a place like Kodiak, to pick only our most recent article, there technically are no “whale watching cruises,” even though there are lots of tours that feature whale watching.

For whatever reason, though, Seward does actually have a few companies that offer tours specifically focused on whales and are advertised as such. Major Marine Tours offers a four-hour “Gray Whale Watching Cruise” from late March to mid-May, the aim of which is to witness the gray whale migration. Kenai Forjds Tours has a very similar cruise focused on gray whales that operates during the same time as the Major Marine tour. Both companies offer several additional tours of Kenai Fjords as well, almost all of which allow you to see whales. Backcountry Safaris, which is basically a travel agency that focuses on wildlife tours in the entire state of Alaska, also has a few listings for whale watching tours that sail out of Seward. They have listings for other Seward-based tours too, which explore either Kenai Fjords or Resurrection Bay, located right by the national park. These more broadly focused tours, which are merely listed by (as opposed to operated by) Backcountry Safaris, give you opportunities to see whales. Finally, the Alaska Saltwater Lodge offers whale watching cruises, as well as fishing cruises that feature whale watching. The lodge’s tours don’t seem to have official names, but they are called whale watching tours, and thus can be found even when you limit your searches to whale watching.

These appear to be the main providers of whale watching cruises in Seward. Three companies directly offer the tours, and another (Backcountry Safaris) lists whale watching and wildlife tours that are operated by other companies (like the three we discussed). We recommend checking out each company’s website to see what cruises might be of interest to you, and then you can also check their prices against what Backcountry Safaris has listed on their site. If you limit your search within this circle of sources, you should be able find what you are looking for without first going down a bunch of dead ends.

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