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Seward Cruise Port Tips

Boaters view Kenai Fjord glacier up close
Boaters view Kenai Fjord glacier up close. Credit: U.S. National Park Service
The small town of Seward often is the end port for many cruises to Alaska. But it makes up for its small size with big excursions.

Seward, with a population of less than 3,000 people, is about 120 miles south of Anchorage. Many cruises starting from Seattle or Vancouver reach the port two days after leaving Juneau or the nearby Skagway. After arriving at Seward, many cruise visitors take a shuttle bus to Anchorage and the airport.

Driving to Seward from Juneau would require crossing nearly 1,000 miles of Alaskan and Canadian wilderness. Getting there by cruise is just a bit more fun.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

The dominant attraction in Seward is the Kenai Fjords National Park. The park’s visitor center is about one mile south of the cruise ship terminal.

Kayaking and day cruises are the two most popular activities at Seward. Energetic visitors often kayak through the fjords while less energetic ones go on boat tours out of Seward to view the glaciers and wildlife.

Harding Icefield with nearly 40 glaciers is Kenai’s most famous feature. Exit Glacier is the only part of the park available by road. It has viewpoints, short trails and a nature center.

The strenuous 8.2-mile Harding Icefield trail starts from the Exit Glacier area. The trailhead is 11 miles northeast of the cruise terminal.

Seward has one other popular attraction. Alaska SeaLife Center offers various encounters with mammals and other creatures. The center at 301 Railway Avenue is two miles south of the cruise terminal.


Seward is too small for the U.S. National Weather Service to track its historical weather. The next best source is the nearby Anchorage.

The weather in the area is drier than southern cruise ports such as Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau. Temperatures are similar.

Like those ports, temperatures are coolest during May and September with average daytime temperatures in the upper 50s Fahrenheit. They rise into the mid 60s Fahrenheit from June through August. July is the warmest month of the year.

Rainfall is lower, which is good news for photographers and anyone going on nature excursions. It averages less than one inch in May, which is the driest month of the cruise season. It increases each month until September, the final month of the season, when rainfall averages more than three inches.

Even for Seward and Anchorage, July remains the best month to visit for a combination of warm temperatures and low risk of rain.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Cruise Ports   

July 19, 2018

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