View the map of the tour route here.
The sun shines uncharacteristically bright in Seward, Alaska as we descend the gangplank to the boat dock below.
Snow capped mountains rise up from the shore and sea all around us, and boats rock gently in their slips on the glacial blue sea.
We board our vessel - the Orca Voyager - and wait anxiously for our adventure to begin.
Today's adventure is a Gray Whale Watch with the Kenai Fjords Tour - an expedition that explores Resurrection Bay in search of whales on their annual migration.
Following safety instructions from our captain, we disembark from the dock, and launch into excitement.
The town on Seward on a bright and sunny day (an unusual occurrance I'm told)
A mural in Seward depicting the wonders we'll encounter
Thanks to Chris Palmer who took this shot with his nice camera.
The Seward Boat Dock
Our boat awaits
My cute kids with Grandma and Grandpa and our friend Chris
Leaving the harbor they were excited to see how the boat works
Our vessel - The Orca Voyager
Did you know that otters have between 500,000 - 1,000,000 hairs - per square inch of their body? Compare this to humans who have about 500,000 hairs on their entire body (including your hair).
Otters have no blubber, so it is their super thick, soft fur that keeps them warm. It is also the reason they were hunted to near extinction - because of their very soft pelts
A beautiful day with my beautiful family!
A Dall Porpoise - super fast and hard to catch on camera
I think they look like chubby dolphins - or little Orcas
Did you know that an Orca or Killer Whale is actually a porpoise like these Dall Porpoises and like dolphins?
The captain spotted a humpback - while waiting for it to show itself, we watched the Stellar Sea Lions
Ahhh, scratch that itch...
Where are you humpback?
No humpback, but we did find a gray whale and her calf. They migrate over 5,000 miles from Mexico to the Bering Sea, following the coastline the entire way.
Very elusive and difficult to catch on film - they're not 'showy' like humpback whales.
Somewhere out there that humpback is hiding...
Sea birds spend most of their life on the water. They mostly come to land only to nest.
This bird is the deepest diving flying bird - it can dive 600 feet under the water to catch fish. The only other bird that can dive deeper than it is a penguin - but they are flightless.
He looks very comfortable
So much beautiful scenery - this world is so amazingly large and lovely.
These birds are 'peeling' - the fly down from the cliff in unison and screech - it's used to keep predators from their nests, like eagles and falcons.
Soon they will build their nest right on this cliff face.
During the summer there will be tens of thousands of gulls nesting in this one area of the bay alone.
The last incredible species I saw - I think I'll take it home with me
Our tour was a limited time offering - just during the whale migration in April.
But Kenai Fjords Tours offers several amazing cruise options all summer long. Price and inclusions may vary.
Cost: ~$84 for adults, ~$44 for kids 2-11, PLUS taxes and fees.
Includes free lunch (Caesar chicken salad wrap, matchstick carrots, Sweet & Salty granola bar).
Free coffee and tea, and apples (I think they were free??).
They also pass out free fresh baked chocolate chip cookies as you're returning to dock. 🙂
Concession items are offered for sale such as hot chocolate and cider ($1 a pack), sodas and various snacks.
Tips: Bring your own herbal tea or hot chocolate - especially if you're not a coffee/tea drinker. Hot water is available to make your own.
You could also bring your own snacks and/or (2nd) lunch for those big eaters. The tour was four hours long (average length), and my bunch eats more than they lunch they provided for us in a 4 hour period.
Bring (really) warm clothes - although our cruise was in the spring, with the winds blowing as the boat moves, and the unpredictable weather of Seward, you want to make sure to be warm enough.
There is an indoor cabin with large windows for viewing, but it's kept only marginally warm. After about two or three hours, I was frozen inside and out and couldn't get warm until we got back to our truck.
Bring your camera! The captain makes extra effort to get as close as possible (without disturbing the animals), so you can get a good view of them.
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