Alaska: June 2018
A day cruise is one of the best ways to see Kenai Fjords National Park. Heck, it's big enough that you'd probably need two days' worth of cruises to see the whole thing... but as today was a very rare* sunny day in Seward, Mother Nature decided to make the most of it-- as soon as the cruise left the dock, a pair of humpback whales decided to start feeding right next to the marina!
Friggin' amazing. And an hour later, not far into Kenai Fjords NP proper, a pod of offshore orcas made an appearance. They're sufficiently rare that it was the first time seeing them for many of the ship's crew. o_0 These sleek predators stuck around on the surface for a good 15 minutes too, way longer than the dolphins did earlier.
Continuing on, Holgate Glacier was the next stop. Lots of activity today, with tons of ice falling into the fjord, as everyone soaked up the view and the sound after lunch. Puffins and then several rafts of sea otters made an appearance on the way from Holgate Glacier to Aialik Glacier-- the sea otters in particular looked to be having a lovely day floating on the surface, soaking up the sun. Aialik Glacier had harbor seals all over the place, right at the toe of the glacier, and was, again, another great place for the captain to kill the engines and let everyone soak up the sights and sounds of millions of tons of ice on the move.
Sea lions, cormorants, and gulls all showed up on the way back, many sunbathing on the Chiswell Islands. So much nature on display-- again, well worth the trip!
The weather finally turned grey and rainy on the way back to Anchorage, although the skies were just clear enough to make Summit Lake look good, and to give an overcast Beluga Point some hints of the sky before a quick dinner at Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage. The blood orange XX IPA, jalapeno cornbread, and seafood chowder made for a pretty decent (and quick) meal before running off the airport, where the trip was quickly wrapped up with some airplane watching and a last bite of fresh Alaskan salmon before heading home!
* = The crew of the Glacier Express said they get maybe 5 sunny days a year, so to have a sunny day with this much wildlife on display was, I suspect, truly extraordinary.