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Cruises to Seward

Seward (Photo:Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock)
Seward (Photo:Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock)

About Seward

Seward is a picturesque harbor town sporting the catchy motto "Alaska starts here." What that means is that Seward really is the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park, a vast treasure trove of marine life. It's the launching point for kayaking and fishing adventures. And it's the start (or end) of the Alaska Railroad and the historic start of the famous Iditarod sled dog race.

You'll find Seward about 125 miles south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula and standing at the head of Resurrection Bay. For most cruisers, it's an embarkation or disembarkation port (but there's plenty of ways to spend your time with one day in Seward). You'll likely fly into Anchorage to meet your ship, or arrive in port after a cruise tour to Denali. True, the port of Whittier is closer to Anchorage and is challenging Seward for cruise traffic, but there's no comparison when it comes to sightseeing, staying and playing. More than a quick port stop or mere point of embarkation, Seward makes a handy, not to mention charming, base for exploring the peninsula and its quirky small towns.

It's well worth spending two or three days poking around this area. It offers a taste of the best of what you've come up north to experience -- calving glaciers, gorgeous fjords, wildlife spotting on land and sea, husky dogs and the great outdoors. If you're into fishing, casting for salmon doesn't get any better than on the Kenai River. You can drive to Kenai to browse through the galleries and shops. Soldotna is home to Kenai River Brewing Company. Artsy Homer is doable in a long day.

Seward was named for President Lincoln's secretary of state, William H. Seward, the main man in negotiating the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. Not everyone was happy about the deal. Some dubbed it "Seward's folly." The city was founded in 1903, thanks to its envious position as a year-round ice-free harbor. It is well situated for transporting freight arriving by rail from the interior. It was (and still is) the end of the line for the Alaska Railroad, which is currently considering plans to move the tracks even closer to the cruise terminal.

That's good news for cruisers. You can easily get there from the Anchorage airport by more ways than one. If your ship embarks in Seward, you'll likely have a group transfer to the port by motor coach. Independent travelers can make arrangements to get to Seward the same way or they can come by train. If you want to drive, one-way Hertz rental cars are available for the pretty, two-and-a-half-hour road trip from or to Anchorage.

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DAY 1: Vancouver

7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
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Ketchikan, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Seattle

16 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Seward

7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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120 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
Honolulu, Maui ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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16 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Inside Passage, Ketchikan ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Inside Passage, Ketchikan ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Hubbard Glacier, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Sitka, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Hubbard Glacier, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Inside Passage, Ketchikan ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Sitka ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking Ocean Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Sitka, Glacier Bay ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Victoria
Visiting:
Vancouver, Sitka ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Valdez, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking Ocean Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

19 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Tokyo
Visiting:
Hokkaido, Seward ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Wrangell ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
College Fjord, Valdez ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Sitka, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Seward

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Valdez, Haines ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking Ocean Cruises
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Why go to Seward?

Pros:

Salmon fishing, paddleboarding excursions, Exit Glacier and a solid brewery easily fill a day in port

Cons:

Rainy, gray weather can make outdoor activities rough going; pack appropriately

Bottom Line:

Seward isn't glamorous, but it serves as a spectacular gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park

Seward Cruise Port Facilities?

There's not much happening right at the cruise dock. But you'll find everything -- shops, restaurants, tourist information and tours -- at the Small Boat Harbor.

Good to Know?

Getting seasick on small boat tours around the islets and inlets of Kenai Fjords National Park. Most operators provide meds if you feel queasy, however be aware the pills may put you to sleep, and you might have to forgo a little glacier viewing to spite the nausea. It helps to watch what you eat and spend some time outside in the fresh air. But if you aren't sure, be certain to take the pills at least a half-hour to an hour before your boat departs the harbor, just to be safe.

Getting Around?

Getting To the Port: If you're traveling on your own from Anchorage (the airport gateway), Alaska Tour & Travel has bus service to Seward twice a day (800-208-0200). Salmon Berry Tours (515 W. 4th Avenue; 907-278-3572) offer day tours with your transfer from Anchorage to Seward so sightseeing time isn't wasted. If you don't mind getting up early, the Alaska Railroad departs from Anchorage at 6:45 a.m., and arrives in Seward at 11:15 a.m. Leaving Seward, it departs at 6 p.m. and arrives in Anchorage at 11:05 p.m. (800-544-0552)

On Foot: The two main walking areas are the historic downtown and the Small Boat Harbor. They are within a mile of each other, and both have souvenir shops and cafes. Fourth Avenue is considered "downtown."

By Shuttle: A free shuttle bus runs from the cruise dock to the tour boat docks, Alaska SeaLife Center and downtown (although cash tips are recommended). It's available daily, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The schedule is posted in various shop and cafe windows.

By Car: Taxis gather near the cruise dock or can be flagged down in town. However, there are only a dozen or so in service. For car rentals, call Hertz (907-224-4378; 600 Port Avenue).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

U.S. dollar. ATMs are available in banks and at Safeway, the local grocery store.

Language?

English is spoken in Seward.

Where You're Docked?

Cruise ships dock at the north end of town on Port Avenue. The Small Boat Harbor where Kenai Fjords tour boats depart is less than a mile's walk south. The downtown area is roughly another mile further down the road.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2017 Top-Rated Alaska Destinations

Seward Cruise Reviews

Celebrity Millennium
VincesDeeDee
Sail Date: Aug 2019
We took the Celebrity bus from Anchorage to Seward. Recent wildfires made it hard to see the scenery and the smell was awful in Seward. Once the ship left, the smell was gone.... Read More
Norwegian Jewel
Princess Mom
Sail Date: Aug 2019
We took the ACT Big Bus from ANC to Seward. Very comfortable, easy boarding process and timing was perfect for us. Picked up at ANC at 11:30, arrived Seward before 2pm. They brought our bags right to the cruise ship... Read More
Seven Seas Mariner
SusanAElder
Sail Date: Aug 2019
We boarded the ship in Seward and did not sight see.... Read More
Norwegian Jewel
TBloom4
Sail Date: Aug 2019
We were met by Alex and Mike. We're saw a bit of Seward and headed to the Wildlife Preserve and then to Anchorage for our Denali excursion.... Read More
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