Whittier, Alaska is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the breathtaking Prince William Sound. This small town is known for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and access to some of the most awe-inspiring glaciers in the state. Whether you’re looking to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise adventure or simply explore the natural wonders Alaska has to offer, Whittier is the perfect starting point.
In this guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about how to get to Whittier, Alaska for a cruise. From various transportation options to helpful tips, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on your Alaskan adventure.
Whittier is located approximately 60 miles southeast of Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska. Despite its remote location, accessing Whittier is easier than you may think. Whether you prefer to travel by car, train, bus, or even by flight or cruise ship, there are multiple options available to suit your preferences and needs.
So, let’s dive in and explore the various ways to reach Whittier, Alaska, for an unforgettable cruise experience.
Getting to Whittier, Alaska
Whittier, Alaska is a remote destination, but there are several modes of transportation that can take you there. Depending on your preference and location, you can choose to travel by car, train, bus, flight, or cruise ship.
Each mode of transportation offers its own unique benefits, so let’s take a closer look at each option:
- By Car: If you enjoy road trips and want the flexibility to explore at your own pace, driving to Whittier is a great option. You can access Whittier via the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in North America. The tunnel operates on a one-lane alternating schedule, so be sure to check the tunnel schedule before you plan your trip.
- By Train: The Alaska Railroad offers scenic train rides that take you from Anchorage to Whittier. This option allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the stunning views of the Alaskan wilderness along the way. The train departs from the Anchorage train station and arrives at the Whittier train station, conveniently located near the cruise terminal.
- By Bus: Another option is to take a bus from Anchorage to Whittier. Several bus companies provide transportation services between the two destinations. This is a cost-effective option for those who prefer not to drive or take the train.
- By Flight: If you’re short on time or prefer a quicker mode of transportation, flying to Whittier is an option. You can book a flight from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to the nearby Whittier Airport. From there, it’s a short transfer to the cruise terminal.
- By Cruise Ship: Whittier is a popular embarkation point for cruises exploring the stunning natural wonders of Alaska. If you choose this option, you can begin your adventure by boarding a cruise ship directly in Whittier.
Regardless of the mode of transportation you choose, the journey to Whittier is sure to be filled with breathtaking scenery and anticipation for the adventures that await you in this picturesque Alaskan town.
Option 1: By Car
If you enjoy road trips and the freedom of having your own vehicle, traveling to Whittier by car is a fantastic option. The drive will take you through scenic routes, allowing you to soak in the natural beauty of Alaska along the way.
To reach Whittier by car, you’ll need to take the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, an engineering marvel that connects the town to the Seward Highway. This tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in North America, measuring approximately 2.5 miles in length. It operates on a one-lane alternating schedule, with traffic traveling in one direction at a time. Make sure to check the tunnel schedule in advance and plan your trip accordingly.
The journey itself is a magnificent experience. As you drive towards Whittier, you’ll be surrounded by towering mountains, sparkling lakes, and lush forests. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings, as moose, bears, and eagles are often seen along the way.
Before embarking on your road trip to Whittier, it’s important to ensure that your vehicle is in good condition, especially if you’re visiting during the winter months. Winter driving conditions can be challenging in Alaska, so make sure your car is equipped with appropriate tires and check the weather and road conditions before you set off.
When you reach Whittier, you’ll find ample parking options near the cruise terminal. Many cruise lines offer long-term parking facilities where you can safely leave your vehicle while you embark on your cruise.
Traveling by car to Whittier offers the flexibility to stop at scenic viewpoints, roadside attractions, and charming towns along the way. It’s a fantastic option for those who want to explore Alaska at their own pace and make the most of their journey.
Option 2: By Train
If you’re seeking an unforgettable and scenic journey to Whittier, traveling by train is an excellent choice. The Alaska Railroad offers a picturesque route that takes you from Anchorage to Whittier, allowing you to soak in the stunning beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
The train ride from Anchorage to Whittier is truly a feast for the eyes. As you meander through the Alaskan wilderness, you’ll witness towering mountains, majestic glaciers, and pristine forests. The expansive windows of the train provide panoramic views, offering ample opportunities for photography and taking in the awe-inspiring scenery.
The journey on the Alaska Railroad takes approximately two and a half hours, making it a leisurely and enjoyable way to reach Whittier. Along the way, the train passes through the breathtaking Portage Valley, offering views of Portage Glacier and other glacial formations.
The Anchorage train station is conveniently located in downtown Anchorage, allowing for easy access. Once you arrive at the Whittier train station, which is just a short walk from the cruise terminal, you’ll be ready to embark on your cruise adventure.
The Alaska Railroad offers different classes and amenities for passengers, including comfortable seating, onboard dining, and knowledgeable guides who provide commentary about the region’s history and geography. It’s a truly immersive experience that adds value to your journey.
It’s essential to check the train schedule in advance and plan your trip accordingly. The Alaska Railroad operates seasonally, with more frequent services available during peak summer months. Be sure to book your train tickets in advance to secure your seat.
Traveling by train to Whittier not only offers a scenic and relaxing journey but also allows you to fully appreciate the untouched beauty of Alaska. It’s an experience that combines transportation and sightseeing into one unforgettable adventure.
Option 3: By Bus
If you prefer a convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation to Whittier, traveling by bus is a great option. Several bus companies provide transportation services between Anchorage and Whittier, making it easy to reach your destination.
The bus journey from Anchorage to Whittier takes approximately one and a half to two hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. Along the way, you’ll be treated to scenic vistas of mountains, lakes, and forests, immersing you in the natural beauty of Alaska.
One popular bus service that operates between Anchorage and Whittier is the Alaska Cruise Transfer. They offer comfortable buses equipped with large windows, allowing you to enjoy the stunning views during your journey. The bus departs from downtown Anchorage and drops you off near the cruise terminal in Whittier.
Traveling by bus provides the convenience of not having to worry about navigating unfamiliar roads or finding parking. Additionally, bus tickets are typically more affordable compared to other transportation options, making it a budget-friendly choice.
It’s advisable to book your bus tickets in advance, especially during the peak summer season when demand is higher. This ensures that you secure your seat and have a hassle-free journey to Whittier.
When planning your trip, it’s important to consider the bus schedule and allow sufficient time to ensure you arrive at the cruise terminal in Whittier with ample time before your cruise departure.
Choosing to travel by bus to Whittier offers convenience, affordability, and the opportunity to sit back and relax as you soak in the stunning Alaskan landscapes. It’s a reliable option for those who prefer not to drive or take the train.
Option 4: By Flight
If you’re looking for a faster and more convenient way to reach Whittier, traveling by flight is an excellent choice. The closest airport to Whittier is the Whittier Airport, which offers flights from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Flights from Anchorage to Whittier are relatively short, with a flight time of approximately 25 minutes. This makes it an ideal option for those who are short on time or prefer to minimize travel time.
Several commuter airlines operate flights between Anchorage and Whittier, providing convenient schedules for travelers. These flights offer stunning aerial views of the Alaskan landscape, allowing you to admire the majestic mountains and glistening glaciers from above.
Once you land at the Whittier Airport, it’s just a short transfer to the cruise terminal. Many cruise lines provide shuttle services to transport passengers between the airport and cruise terminal, making the transition seamless.
It’s essential to check the flight schedules and book your tickets in advance to secure your preferred travel dates and times. During the peak summer season, when tourism in Alaska is at its highest, flights may fill up quickly.
When packing for your flight to Whittier, ensure that you follow the airline’s luggage restrictions and guidelines. Considering the weather conditions in Alaska, especially during the shoulder seasons or winter, it’s wise to dress in layers and pack appropriate clothing for the elements.
Traveling by flight to Whittier offers convenience, speed, and a unique aerial perspective of Alaska’s natural beauty. It’s a great option for those who want to minimize travel time without compromising their experience.
Option 5: By Cruise Ship
One of the most popular and exciting ways to reach Whittier is by embarking on a cruise ship. Whittier serves as a major embarkation point for cruises exploring the pristine waters of Alaska.
Many major cruise lines offer itineraries that include Whittier as a port of call. These cruises provide an all-inclusive experience, combining transportation, accommodations, meals, and entertainment, allowing you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey.
Embarking on a cruise ship to Whittier offers a unique perspective of Alaska’s scenic coastline. As your ship glides through the sparkling waters of the Prince William Sound, you’ll have the opportunity to witness stunning glaciers, towering fjords, and abundant wildlife from the comfort of your ship’s deck.
There are a variety of cruise options available, ranging from luxurious liners to smaller expedition-style ships. Choose a cruise that best suits your preferences, whether you’re seeking a relaxing retreat or an adventurous exploration of Alaska’s remote areas.
Whittier boasts a state-of-the-art cruise terminal that can accommodate large ships. The terminal provides facilities for passenger check-in, baggage handling, and other services to ensure a smooth embarkation process.
If you choose to travel to Whittier by cruise ship, it’s important to check the embarkation details provided by your cruise line. This will include information about the designated check-in time, luggage regulations, and any necessary documentation required for boarding.
Once your cruise ship arrives in Whittier, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the town and its surrounding attractions before continuing your journey through the spectacular landscapes of Alaska.
Embarking on a cruise ship to Whittier offers a luxurious and convenient way to experience the beauty of Alaska’s coast. It’s a truly unforgettable experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the wonders of this remarkable destination.
Tips for Traveling to Whittier
As you prepare for your journey to Whittier, Alaska, there are a few tips and considerations that can enhance your travel experience:
- Check the weather: Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to stay updated on the forecast for Whittier. Pack appropriate clothing layers, including waterproof and warm gear, regardless of the season.
- Plan ahead: Whether you’re traveling by car, train, bus, flight, or cruise ship, make sure to plan your itinerary in advance. Check schedules, book tickets or reservations, and allow ample time to reach your destination without feeling rushed.
- Bring your camera: Whittier and its surrounding areas offer breathtaking scenery and wildlife sightings. Don’t forget to bring your camera or smartphone to capture those memorable moments.
- Arrive early: It’s always a good idea to arrive in Whittier a day early, especially if you’re catching a cruise ship. This gives you a buffer in case of any unexpected delays or travel hiccups.
- Explore Whittier: Take some time to explore the town of Whittier before you embark on your cruise. Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center or take a kayak tour to get a taste of the local culture and natural wonders.
- Stay overnight: If you have the opportunity, consider staying overnight in Whittier to fully experience the tranquility and charm of the town. There are accommodation options available, allowing you to extend your stay and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.
- Pack essentials: Bring any necessary medications, travel adapters, and personal essentials during your journey. It’s also helpful to pack a small day bag for excursions or exploring Whittier before or after your cruise.
- Respect the environment: Alaska is known for its pristine wilderness. Be mindful of the environment and follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the beauty of Whittier and its surrounding areas. Avoid littering, stay on designated trails, and respect wildlife habitats.
- Enjoy the adventure: Whittier, Alaska, offers unique and awe-inspiring experiences. Embrace the adventure, soak in the stunning landscapes, and immerse yourself in the culture, history, and natural beauty that this remote destination has to offer.
By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on an incredible journey to Whittier, Alaska. Whether you’re traveling for a cruise or simply exploring the wonders of the Last Frontier, Whittier is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Whittier, Alaska, is a destination that captures the essence of the Last Frontier. With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and access to magnificent glaciers, Whittier offers a remarkable experience for travelers seeking a unique and unforgettable adventure.
In this guide, we have explored various transportation options to reach Whittier, including traveling by car, train, bus, flight, or cruise ship. Each mode of transportation offers its own benefits, whether it’s the flexibility of a road trip, the scenic beauty of a train ride, the convenience of a bus, the speed of a flight, or the luxury of a cruise ship.
During your journey to Whittier, it’s important to plan ahead, check schedules, and stay informed about weather conditions. Consider exploring the town of Whittier before your cruise, and make the most of your visit by staying overnight and immersing yourself in the local culture.
As you embark on your adventure to Whittier, don’t forget to capture the breathtaking scenery, respect the environment, and enjoy every moment of the journey. Whether you’re cruising through the Prince William Sound, hiking through snow-capped mountains, or admiring the wildlife, Whittier is a place that will leave you in awe.
So, pack your bags, choose your preferred mode of transportation, and get ready to explore the wonders of Whittier, Alaska. Whether you’re embarking on a cruise or simply visiting this charming town, your journey to Whittier will be an experience filled with natural beauty, adventure, and memories that will last a lifetime.