When we arrived in Seward about noon on Sunday, we had booked a 5 hour Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise with Major Marine Tours. I had checked in advance, and they assured me that the wheelchair would not be an issue. At the train stop in Seward, the railroad had a hand-operated elevator to unload my wife in her wheelchair. We then went to the bus that they were using to transfer individuals taking one of their tours. The bus did not have a lift, but since Cheryl can walk and climb a few steps, it was simple to put the chair in the luggage compartment.
We went to Major Marine’s location and checked in for the tour, and we were given armbands since we had purchased the onboard salmon and prime rib buffet. The staff was very helpful, and after we had checked in, they helped my wife down the ramp and on board the ship in a wheelchair. The weather was still cool, and it was raining lightly. The warm cabin was welcome, and my wife was able to find a good vantage point for the cruise.
Once everyone was onboard, and we had a safety briefing, it was time to depart. We had a very personable and knowledgeable National Park Ranger on board, which provided commentary as we approached the various sights along the way. We were just a little ways from the harbor when the captain saw a grey whale and her calf moving along the shore. We moved a little closer, and while they never came close, you could see the spouts of the two them as they went about their business.
We crossed Ressurection Bay and went along the far shore. During this leg of the trip, the water was very smooth, and the Ranger described the geology of the area and pointed out the different types of sea birds, particularly puffins as we passed them.
The galley team had lunch ready very quickly, and they had salad, potatoes, and most importantly, prime rib and fresh caught wild salmon. All three of us enjoyed the meal and thought the quality of the food was excellent. They made sure that everyone was served and then opened the buffet up for seconds or even thirds, not that I like fresh salmon. They checked the armband each time you went up to make sure that passengers that chose not to pay for the buffer were not eating.
As we sailed along, the rain would come and go, but most of the trip, there was light rain and fairly low clouds which obscured some of the sights that we would have seen on a clear day. We passed by a rock that looked like it was snow covered, but the Ranger explained that sea birds were nesting all over the surface because it was a secure location for their nests.
We also went by an area where numerous Stellar Sea Lions were hauled out resting. I asked if that was a rookery and the Ranger explained that these were most likely adolescent males and they were in the area feeding, away from the rookery.
As we proceeded further out bay and closer to the Gulf of Alaska, the water started moving more, and this created discomfort in some, even though the crew had advised that anyone who was concerned should take something to prevent seasickness. My group didn’t have any issues, and the water wasn’t very rough.
We crossed through some islands at the mouth of the bay, and went to other shore and sailed through the edges of the Kenai Fjords park. We went past Bear Glacier, but the weather hampered the view. As we were heading back toward Seward, the captain spotted a mountain goat standing on a steep slope near water flowing down the slope. We watched for a minute or two and then headed back into Seward.