Large Tour Boats
Several companies with offices in Anchorage offer day-trip tours to the Sound's western glaciers. Besides having spectacular scenery, the water is calm, making seasickness unlikely -- for the queasy, this is a better choice than Kenai Fjords National Park. Each operator times departures to coordinate with the daily Alaska Railroad train from Anchorage, described above, which means they have up to 6 hours for the trip, depending on the speed of the boats, the pacing of the tours, and the route. Between the train and boat fare, expect to spend around $250 per person for this day's outing, leaving Anchorage at 10am and returning at 9:30pm. You can save $30 a person and up to 3 hours by taking a bus the tour boat arranges instead of the train. If you have two or more people, you can save by renting a car and driving. You will be able to buy meals onboard or one will be provided.
Instead of getting on a giant tour boat with a crowd of people, you can go on a small boat with a local whom you'll get to know as they show off favorite places and land on beaches to picnic and walk. If you see a whale or other point of interest, you stay as long or as short a time as you like. You give up the comfort of a large vessel, you pay more, and most small boats have a four-person minimum.
The Sound By Yacht
The Discovery is a classic old wooden vessel, and accommodations are nautical and yachtlike, not as fancy even as a small cruise ship. But it's comfortable, groups are only about a dozen per trip, and the owner and skipper knows the Sound well, taking passengers to its most intimate and beautiful spots -- places such as that cove that hardly anyone knows about. It's like a first-class wilderness lodge afloat. A 7-day itinerary, including 5 nights aboard and 2 nights at a B&B in Anchorage, starts at $3,900 per person, double occupancy. Contact Discovery Voyages (tel. 800/324-7602; www.discoveryvoyages.com).