The Seward cruise port of call on Alaska cruise itineraries gives you access to one of Alaska’s oldest communities. Seward is situated on an inlet of the Kenai Peninsula, nestled up next to the southern coast of Alaska. Scenic and breathtaking, this coastal town is a must-see destination for Alaska-enthusiasts around the world. Towering glaciers on the coast, located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, flow into surrounding fjords, providing an ideal habitat for whales and porpoises. Fishing boats line the horizons of the adjacent Seward Harbor, providing a beautiful view. Quaint and charming, the intimately small size of Seward adds to its appeal and why so many people cruise to Seward.
“Alaska starts here.” The motto of this picturesque port town announces to newcomers that they’ve reached Seward cruise port, the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park, where an eclectic array of marine life can be found. The southernmost starting point of the Alaska Railroad, Seward is the ideal launch spot for kayakers, anglers, stand-up paddle boarders, and charter fisherman. It's also the historic starting point for the famous Iditarod dog sled race.
If whale watching and wildlife sightings are what interest you in an Alaskan vacation, taking a Kenai Fjords Cruise in Seward is the activity for you. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from Harding Icefield – located at the edge of the Kenai Peninsula – and the fjords that result from the glacial overflow are jam-packed with Alaskan wildlife. The waters are teeming with humpback and orca whales, sea otters, sea lions, puffins, and harbor seals, and you’ll have a front-row seat to see them on a Kenai Fjords Cruise.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a non-profit organization that is specifically dedicated to researching and conserving Alaska’s wildlife, as well as providing quality animal care. Another purpose for the Conservation Center is to provide information for visitors and educate newcomers about Alaska’s thousands of native species. The Conservation Center sits on a massive plot of land, giving each species of animal its own habitat. Visitors can drive around the vast facility to see all the animal habitats at once or park and walk among the sectioned off areas for a closer look.
Seward is the proud home of the Alaska SeaLife Center, a public aquarium and Alaska’s only permanent marine mammal rehabilitation center. On rainy or cold days, a visit to the SeaLife Center is a perfect way to see even more of Alaska’s beautiful marine wildlife without being exposed to the elements. The exhibits of the SeaLife Center are ever-changing and interactive and feature all types of marine species, from sharks to sea stars, making this a fun-filled, family-friendly activity. Stroll through the facility on your own self-guided tour, or sign up for a small group tour with a guide who will provide a closer, more interactive and hands-on tour of the marine wildlife exhibits.
If a healthy, invigorating hike is your idea of true Alaskan experience, head up the Harding Icefield Trail – located within Kenai Fjords National Park – and hike the 4.2 mile trail (8.4 miles round-trip). Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded for your hard work with breathtaking views of Harding Icefield and the nearly 40 surrounding glaciers.
Next to Seward is Mount Marathon, famed location for one of Alaska's most challenging foot races. Every year, the race is a highlight of Seward's exciting 4th of July celebration, and attracts runners from around the world, as well as race enthusiasts visiting for the holiday.
Fishing is a very big industry in Alaska in general, and particularly in Seward. The city has a significantly sized charter fishing fleet to take cruise guests out to Resurrection Bay for a day of some of the best angling in the Kenai Peninsula area. Silver salmon are a main catch in the summer months between July and August, but anglers also visit Seward for king salmon and halibut fishing.
If fishing in Alaska is a dream of yours, set sail on a full-day fishing charter in Resurrection Bay. Your captain will steer you through the beautiful blue waters to various fishing hotspots, passing several areas that are famous for marine life sightings and whale watching. After a quick briefing on safety and technique, you’ll be casting and reeling for the local species of the season.
A historic and informative stroll with views that will take your breath away, Waterfront Park lies just along the shoreline north of the Alaska SeaLife Center. Following the promenade will take you straight to the famous Seward Harbor, where fishing boats float peacefully on the horizon and the crystal blue waters stretch as far as the eye can see.
Spending the afternoon kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding through Resurrection Bay offers a quiet, peaceful alternative to wildlife watching and taking in the gorgeous views. With no noisy boat motors around, marine animals will be much more likely to make an appearance as you glide over the pristine waters off the coast of Seward.
With a menu entirely made from scratch, Apollo Restaurant features a tasty selection of fresh-caught seafood, succulent steak dinner, and family-friendly pizzas. Serving locals and visitors since 1976, it stays open all year-round, so you know you can find comfort food here any season.
The menu at Chattermark Seward boasts a wide variety of lunch and dinner options, including burgers, fresh-caught Alaskan fish, surf-and-turf steak and seafood, and vegetarian dishes. Every dish on the menu is served with unique and flavorful house-made sauces, and Chattermark is arguably home to the best hot wings in Seward.
The Cookery features some of the best oysters in Seward – served ice cold on the half shell or chargrilled and dipped in savory garlic butter. Every dish on the menu was personally created by Chef Kevin Lane, features seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients, and is seasoned to perfection for bold, unique flavors.
Woody’s Thai Kitchen
Named after Seward’s beloved and iconic sea lion, Woody’s Thai Kitchen is only a five to 10 minute walk from the Seward Harbor. Authentic Bangkok-style Thai dishes, including curries, soups, noodles, and rice dishes dominate the menu at Woody’s, along with local specialties that combine Thai flavors with Alaskan-Pacific Northwest ingredients to create entirely unique dishes. With a balanced variety of mild, spicy, and vegan options, the eclectic selection of craft beers, local Alaskan microbreweries, wines, and sake also make Woody’s an attractive dinner option for visitors.
Most visitors reach Seward from a cruise ship, bus, or the Alaska Railroad. Buses run twice a day between Seward and Anchorage, stopping in Talkeetna and Denali National Park along the way.
Small and quaint, Seward is a phenomenal town for walking and is easy to navigate once you’re in town. Just put on a pair of comfortable shoes and go explore.
A local shuttle bus takes guests to five stops around the town of Seward, including the supermarket, the train station, the harbor marina, the SeaLife Center, and the middle of downtown Seward. Buses run every 30 minutes all day – and the best part? They’re free!
There are several local taxi companies available for hire. With Seward as small as it is, you won’t be likely to see them driving through town, so calling one of the companies for a taxi is the best way to ensure your ride.
A few places to shop near the port are:
Brown & Hawkins Corporation – 209 4th Ave Seward, AK
Alaska Shop- 210 4th Ave, Seward, AK
Once in a Blue Moose - 4th Avenue Seward, AK
Dimond Center Mall - 800 East Dimond Boulevard Anchorage, AK
Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall - 320 W 5th Ave Anchorage, AK
Tipping is not mandatory, but it is customary in Seward, just as it is throughout Alaska and all of the United States. Tips are not only greatly appreciated, but they are quite often a crucial part of the wages in the tourism industry. Particularly for college students and employees in customer service positions, tips are a typical and necessary way to augment low wages.
Here are some handy tipping customs to keep in mind when you cruise to Seward:
Restaurants:10% to 20% (or higher for excellent service).
Bar Tenders: : An appropriate tip in a bar is 10% to 15% of the bar tab total.
Taxi Drivers: It is customary to provide a tip of between 10% to 18% of your fare
Tour guides: If you are happy with your tour, a tip of 10% to 20% of the total cost of the tour is appropriate.