Seward Ocean Excursions, a small company based in Seward, Alaska, offers a wide variety of custom tours and trips to fit most budgets and recreational desires.
Day cruising the deep fjords of Resurrection Bay near Seward is a popular way to catch a glimpse of the wild and scenic environments that make this area of Alaska famous. Every day between May and September, vessels transit from Seward’s small boat harbor out toward the bay’s craggy, steep coastlines, giving visitors an opportunity to spy glaciers and wildlife in the stretch of a single day.
I’ve sailed the routes offered by popular day cruise companies for years and always come away with an additional nugget of information or a story about this richly diverse area. From World War II history to peering through binoculars in the hope of capturing a glimpse of a humpback whale, every time I set out on the cold Pacific water, I know I’ll return knowing something I didn’t before I hopped aboard the boat.
And the game has been upped.
Seward Ocean Excursions, a one-man, one-vessel operation owned by longtime Seward resident Bixler McClure, is new to the scene but not new to the attributes and opportunities available on Resurrection Bay. Initially tapped by us for a water taxi transport from Tonsina Cabin a few weeks ago, Seward Ocean Excursions is far more than a ride to a campground or public use cabin; it’s a multi-faceted chance to dig deeper, go farther, and learn more.
I was able to squeeze one of the company’s four hour tours into an already-busy Sunday afternoon, and I’m glad I did. At just $150 per person, McClure takes up to six passengers for a personal tour of his favorite locations around Resurrection Bay, with stops at all the popular places like Bear Glacier, Fox Island, Thumb Cove, and enormous rookeries for shorebirds and haul-outs for sea lions.
Like most day cruise companies, Seward Ocean Excursions is in contact with the other boats if wildlife is on the move, and it made for a sense of camaraderie that truly personified the excellent relationship the outfits have with each other. In our case, however, we were able to linger longer if a whale captured our attention; or motor ahead if something more interesting attracted our attention.
McClure, with a lifetime of stories and memories in his head, has an engaging personality that makes him an easy person to talk with. A parent himself, McClure also knows that kids won’t always want to stay in one spot, and also knows that the boat ride is half the fun. In the cozy cabin of the ‘Missing Lynx,’ McClure’s boat, my fellow passengers, McClure, and I chatted about things we’d all seen during our Alaska adventuring, and by the end of the trip all felt like fast friends. That sort of relational experience doesn’t always happen during our rush to see as much as we can in a short period of time, and I appreciated the easygoing, personal pace of the trip.
Seward Ocean Excursions offers a wider range of trips beyond the four hour cruise I embarked upon, and Bixler McClure was quick to assure me that if people want to combine fishing with sightseeing or water taxi access – or all three, he’ll make it happen.
What should you bring?
- Warm clothing, including waterproof pants and jackets so you can hang out on the bow or stern for maximum viewing awesomeness.
- Snacks, but McClure does provide hot water for tea, cocoa, and hot chocolate.
- Camera. Don’t ever forget the camera. Seward Ocean Excursions gets visitors up close to all the good stuff.
This trip is right for you if:
- You want a more personal experience and don’t mind small boats
- You’d like to diversify the day – fish, watch for wildlife, and cruise the coastline of Resurrection Bay
- Your kids are old enough to navigate the small interior and exterior of the Missing Lynx
- You don’t mind paying a bit extra for the value-added day
Note: Seward Ocean Excursions is a year-round operator, which means I’m looking forward to a fall or winter exploratory journey out and around Resurrection Bay. Other Alaskans, this means you, too. Why not?