This is the dominant tour operator, with the most daily sailings and choices of destination. The main part of the operation uses 90- to 150-passenger vessels, many of which have forward-facing seats, like an airplane's, and large wraparound decks where you can get outside at any time. They're professionally staffed. The whole operation runs remarkably smoothly, and the crew is extremely attentive. When the ships are crowded, however, the experience becomes more impersonal. Onboard, the captain primarily narrates, with other employees sometimes helping. With a great variety of tour options, Kenai Fjords has one of the area's least expensive choices, a dinner cruise in Resurrection Bay that costs $64. Meals are included in the price of all tours. The same company owns Mariah Tours, which operates more intimate 16-passenger vessels. Their trips are more spontaneous and go all the way to Northwestern Fjord every day, weather permitting; the downside is that the smaller boats move more in the waves.

Most of the large Kenai Fjords vessels call on a day lodge the company owns on Fox Island, in Resurrection Bay, for lunch and Park Service ranger talks. The lodge sits on a long cobble beach near Sunny Cove, where painter Rockwell Kent lived in seclusion with his son in 1918 and 1919 and produced the art that made him famous. It is an inspiring spot. The lodge itself stands on a narrow strip of land between the beach and a pond, which visitors overlook from large wooden decks. Lunch is grilled Alaska salmon and prime rib, with an option of adding king crab. Some passengers spend the night here at the company's Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on all-inclusive packages; for this kind of experience, the price of $379 per person for a 1-night package, including all meals, boat transportation from Seward, and a national park tour, is quite reasonable. You can also plan a sea-kayaking paddle from the island as part of your day trip or on an overnight. The price is $80 to $100 per person as an add-on for overnighters, or $89 to $169, including a Resurrection Bay tour boat ride, for day-trippers.