Depends on your primary interests & personal preferences but I would go for a Major Marine PWS cruise..... Smaller boat, closer to the wildlife, more intimate experience and relaxed pace. If you want to cover more ocean and see more locations quickly - Philips would be the pick.
If I did the cruise in PWS I would use Major Marine not Phillips. The Major Marine boats seemed much less crowded when I took two PWS tours last summer. I think Phillips contracts with the cruise lines and other operators so they are more full.
The longer you are on the water the better. So the Esther Passage tour in PWS or the 6 or 9 hour tours from Seward are better than the shorter ones.
Thank you to all who posted. I know it's a lot to do with individual preference I'm trying to pare down my itinerary from absolutely ridiculously expensive to .......... Once in a lifetime!
Any wildlife you see from the ferry would be sea lions and seals and birds......rarely, rarely will you see a whale from the ferry and the glaciers you see between Juneau and Skagway will be high on the surrounding mountains, no calving activity......
Maybe some of the others could add to my observations......in Prince William Sound you will likely see sea otters which you will not see from your ferry trip......
Sajjy..hope you don't mind if I chime in and ask a question as I have been trying to make the same decision, and have been reading a LOT of threads.
I read a lot if you want wildlife take the Fjords toward out of Seward, but if you want glaciers take the PWS.
BUT it appears that both get the glaciers. So is the idea with the Fjords that you have the POSSIBILITY of seeing whales more then in PWS. But both see birds, and otters etc.
It also looks as tho the PWS is calmer waters if people are prone to sea sickness right.
I have done a cruise out of Whittier (not glacier quest) and a Kenai Fjord cruise. You are correct bgsnmky about the logistics. We did see a humpback breach in Prince William Sound but that was very unexpected and we were told very uncommon. We saw lots of humbacks and orcas (some breaching) along with much other wildlife on the Kenai Fjords trip. Also more time on the water in Kenai Fjords. The focus out of Whittier is glacier viewing but we did see glaciers in Kenai Fjords and even ate lunch while watching one calve on our small boat tour.
My opinion is that I would do both of them again but if I could only repeat one of the trips it would be the Kenai Fjords tour since there is a better chance for wildlife viewing and I still get the glaciers.
Hope this helps some.
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