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  • Languages Offered: English
Departing from Whittier, the Surprise Glacier Cruise travels through Passage Canal and into Port Wells, featuring waterfalls, bird rookeries, sea otters, sea lions and other wildlife. Cruise along the rocky cliffs of Prince William Sound, inhabited by over 7,500 birds.

To your right, before entering Barry Arm and Harriman Fjord, you will see College Fjord, which was named by Edward Harriman in 1899. The glaciers in College Fjord are named after elite East Coast colleges such as Harvard and Yale.

As you enter Harriman Fjord, you'll see several glaciers, including Harriman and Surprise Glacier. These are active tidewater glaciers, meaning that they flow down from the mountains all the way into the water. You will also see other types of glaciers in the nearby mountains, including alpine or cirque glaciers and valley glaciers.

As you travel farther into Harriman Fjord, you'll begin to see chunks of ice called icebergs floating in the water. You will come to a stop in front of the towering Surprise Glacier, where the Captain will turn off the engines so you can hear the ice crack and groan. Often you will see harbor seals and sea otters lounging on the floating ice. You'll spend about thirty minutes watching the glacier so you have as much time as possible to see it actively calving.

Your return to Whittier takes you through Esther Passage, a small waterway that only small vessels can navigate through. Watch the shoreline for possible bear and bald eagle sightings as you cruise through this spectacular marine waterway. The high mountains of Esther Passage provide protection from high winds, making this a very calm cruising area.

While in Esther Passage, you'll visit a salmon hatchery on Esther Island. This is the largest salmon hatchery in North America, where 300 million salmon fry are released every year. At the hatchery, salmon eggs are fertilized, baby salmon are born and are raised until they are two inches long, and then they are released into the wild. The salmon’s natural instinct causes them to return to the exact freshwater where they were born to spawn and die. About 20-25% of the salmon originally released return to this area.

Before ending your cruise, you'll visit the second-largest black-legged kittiwake rookery in Prince William Sound, where thousands of black-legged kittiwakes have built their nests on the steep sea-side cliffs. These migratory birds, part of the gull family, travel as far south as Baja, California and Costa Rica every year. During the summer they mate, lay eggs, and raise their young in rookeries built into rocky cliffs.

After leaving the rookery, return to the Whittier harbor to end your cruise.
Locations visited
Prince William Sound
Major Marine Tours - Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise
Narrated by a National Forest Park ranger, this 5-hour catamaran cruise takes you into Prince William Sound outside of Whittier. Marvel at the thousands of birds dotting rocky cliffs, see Surprise Glacier in Harriman Fjord and listen to glacier ice crack and groan. Harbor seals lounge on floating ice, while the Esther Passage is home to a sea lion colony, bird rookery and working salmon hatchery. Complement your sightseeing with an upgrade to include an Alaska salmon and prime rib buffet.
  • 5.25-hour catamaran cruise in Prince William Sound from Whittier
  • Enter Port Wells, Barry Arm, Harriman Fjord and Esther Passage to see wildlife and glaciers
  • Visit the second-largest black-legged kittiwake rookery in Prince William Sound
  • Watch for sea otters, porpoises, harbor seals and whales
  • Listen to a National Forest Ranger on board provide engaging commentary
  • Upgrade and enjoy an Alaska salmon and prime rib buffet on board
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A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 6 days ago via mobile

We enjoyed the trip very much! Narration was fantastic and the food was delicious! Beautiful trip, staff was great! Captain did a wonderful job.

Thank A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 1 week ago
Awesome - if the weather is clear

We had booked this cruise several months in advance to make sure we had a seat on the boat. As it turned out, our cruise was on a very foggy, rainy day which made the photos essentially black and white. On a clear day this...More

Thank woodsway
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile
I’d give it Negative 5 stars if I could

Blame it on me. I trusted the sales pitch - that in a rainy day you’ll get to see wildlife because they apparently like to come out and the glaciers are bluer than normal. This nonsense was fed to me my “Larry” and backed up...More

Thank jmt211a
Lindsay M, Public Relations Manager at Major Marine Tours - Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Dear jmt211a, We are very sorry to hear you experienced some poor weather on the day of your cruise. Major Marine Tours, a local and family-owned company, operates rain or shine due to the nature of Prince William Sound. Those "sales pitches" are the truth...More

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Great views and great food

This was and awesome cruise of PWS. The glacier is amazing and they turn the boat so everyone gets a view. The food was great. We had this same menu on several of our trips but this was by far the best tasting of all...More

Thank Sherry W
Reviewed 4 weeks ago
Amazing Day Trip!

We spent four days in Anchorage and this day trip to Surprise Glacier was the highlight of our visit. Even with crummy weather the scenery was beautiful, the park ranger was full of interesting information, and we saw tons of wildlife. The glaciers were just...More

Thank Trayce Z
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