Seward is a picturesque harbor town sporting the catchy motto "Alaska starts here." What that means is that Seward really is the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park, a vast treasure trove of marine life. It's the launching point for kayaking and fishing adventures. And it's the start (or end) of the Alaska Railroad and the historic start of the famous Iditarod sled dog race.
You'll find Seward about 125 miles south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula and standing at the head of Resurrection Bay. For most cruisers, it's an embarkation or disembarkation port (but there's plenty of ways to spend your time with one day in Seward). You'll likely fly into Anchorage to meet your ship, or arrive in port after a cruise tour to Denali. True, the port of Whittier is closer to Anchorage and is challenging Seward for cruise traffic, but there's no comparison when it comes to sightseeing, staying and playing. More than a quick port stop or mere point of embarkation, Seward makes a handy, not to mention charming, base for exploring the peninsula and its quirky small towns.
It's well worth spending two or three days poking around this area. It offers a taste of the best of what you've come up north to experience -- calving glaciers, gorgeous fjords, wildlife spotting on land and sea, husky dogs and the great outdoors. If you're into fishing, casting for salmon doesn't get any better than on the Kenai River. You can drive to Kenai to browse through the galleries and shops. Soldotna is home to Kenai River Brewing Company. Artsy Homer is doable in a long day.
Seward was named for President Lincoln's secretary of state, William H. Seward, the main man in negotiating the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. Not everyone was happy about the deal. Some dubbed it "Seward's folly." The city was founded in 1903, thanks to its envious position as a year-round ice-free harbor. It is well situated for transporting freight arriving by rail from the interior. It was (and still is) the end of the line for the Alaska Railroad, which is currently considering plans to move the tracks even closer to the cruise terminal.
That's good news for cruisers. You can easily get there from the Anchorage airport by more ways than one. If your ship embarks in Seward, you'll likely have a group transfer to the port by motor coach. Independent travelers can make arrangements to get to Seward the same way or they can come by train. If you want to drive, one-way Hertz rental cars are available for the pretty, two-and-a-half-hour road trip from or to Anchorage.