Jim Wesson
Few passengers saw much of Seward as you disembark the ship directly on to a bus at the pier and are whisked away to the Anchorage airport. The harbor is filled with boats that were lined up to get out fishing by 6 AM. The stream of boats continued out of the harbor for most of the early morning. The ride to Anchorage is quite scenic with snow capped mountains, waterways and a few glaciers visible along the route. Cruisers meet up with their luggage at the airport or other Anchorage locations such as local hotels. For anyone who is renting a car in Seward and has some extra time before heading home, there are a couple of inexpensive things for you to do in the Portage Valley, about 50 miles south of the airport. Big Game Alaska Wildlife Center is located at Mile 79 on the Seward Hwy, Portage Glacier AK 99587. Turn left directly into the center just past the Portage Valley turnoff which is on the right as you head north. They are a rehab center for orphaned wildlife. You can see bison, moose, elk, muskox, caribou, Sitka black-tailed deer, eagles, Siberian boars, and other birds and animals including a grizzly bear. There is a nice gift shop and snack bar. The birds are caged and the larger animals fenced, but you can see them really close; close enough to touch in some cases. $20 for a carload, or ala carte-$5 adults, $3 kids and seniors, under 4-free. And if you gotta have one more fix of glacier viewing, be sure to take that right turn to the Portage Valley, Portage Lake and Portage Glacier. About 5 miles from the turnoff you will see a National Forest Visitor Center, cafeteria, and gift shop. The visitor center has a 20 minute film of the area, but bring the bankroll, it costs a hefty $1 per person. From there it is about 1 mile to the Portage Glacier Cruise, a one hour excursion, $25 adult, $12.50 kids, that will take you across the lake to within a few hundred feet of the Portage Glacier. The tour is well narrated and the views are spectacular! The Spirit got within .8 mile of the Harvard glacier; that's about 4000 feet away. The Portage Glacier cruise will get within 250-400 feet of the half mile wide Portage Glacier. You can also take a three quarter mile hike to the Byron Glacier (next to the Portage); directions available from the staff at the visitors center. Cruises run about every hour and a half throughout the day with the last one at 4:30.

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