Whittier Cruise Port

The small town of Whittier, Alaska is the Gateway to Prince William Sound and home to South-central Alaska’s newest cruise ship terminal. Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line currently use the Whittier Cruise Terminal as the northern hub or “turn” operation for their 7-day “Voyage of the Glacier” cruises. Whittier is set on scenic Passage Canal and is surrounded by the Chugach National Forest. The community is home to about 300 residents and several small boat harbors which serve as the home to the local fishing fleet as well as charter and day cruise operators that provide service into Prince William Sound.

Northbound cruisers disembarking in Whittier should expect to arrive in Whittier late in the evening on their last night onboard after cruising earlier in nearby glacier-filled College Fjords. Disembarkation will not commence until the following morning, usually around 6:30am and ending by about 9:30am. Fairly unique to the cruising world, in Whittier passengers do not disembark by deck or cabin category, but are assigned groups based on their destination and whether they are traveling onward on a cruise-tour, or traveling independently in Alaska. Independent travelers are normally grouped in the last disembarkation category. But, “Independents” do not have to wait until their disembarkation group is called to get off the ship because their luggage will have been already placed inside the Whittier Cruise terminal ready to be claimed earlier that morning.

Traveling to, or From, Whittier is a unique experience due to having to travel through North America’s longest highway tunnel. The Anton Anderson tunnel is 2.5 miles long, and is a one-lane toll road. The tunnel operates on a limited schedule and traffic alternates direction every half hour. Although Whittier is only a little over a hour away from Anchorage, the limited access results in there not being very many options for transportation. There are no taxis in Whittier, nor are there shuttles that would provide you options for transportation to Anchorage so it is really important that you book your transportation to or from Whittier prior to arriving in Alaska.

Both of the cruise lines offer bus transportation for cruise-only passengers to Whittier for an additional charge. In addition, the Alaska Railroad provides rail transportation from Anchorage to Whittier which schedule works well with the start of embarkation. Their scheduled service from Whittier to Anchorage doesn’t depart Whittier until early in the evening so I wouldn’t recommend it for those who are traveling onward in Alaska, or who are flying home.

Our Park Connection Motorcoach provides a scheduled service to and from the Whittier Cruise Terminal for independent cruise passengers. You can also travel by the Park Connection from Denali or Seward to Whittier in the same day with connecting service through Anchorage. The same is true for passengers disembarking in Whittier who are traveling to Denali or Seward.

For embarking passengers, the Park Connection Motorcoach departs from the Anchorage Museum at 3:00pm and arrives in Whittier at 4:30pm. The Anchorage Museum is in downtown and admission is complimentary for all Park Connection passengers. Many of the Anchorage hotels will provide shuttle service to the Anchorage Museum so you can catch the Park Connection. For disembarking passengers, the coach departs the Whittier Terminal at 9:45am and drops off at the Anchorage Airport at 11:30am, then drops off at Thrifty Car Rental and the Anchorage Museum. The Thrifty car rental drop off is a convenient option for passengers who wish to travel independently in Alaska by car. When our clients book car-rental packages from Alaska Tour & Travel, we recommend picking up your car from Thrifty’s main office instead of the airport as you’ll save 11% in taxes per day!

Embarkation starts by 12:30pm. Embarking passengers who are traveling to Whittier by private transportation such as local friends or family will be best served to take the 2:30pm or 3:30pm tunnel opening into Whittier as that is the quietest period of time for embarkation. The peak check-in time for embarkation is after 5:00pm, so you’ll want to be sure to arrive in Whittier prior to that time for the most efficient check-in experience. Be sure to have your passports in your carry-on bags and have your luggage tagged for the ship prior to arriving in Whittier. The ships typically sail from Whittier by 9:30pm so an early arrival in Whittier will give you time to relax and have dinner prior to sailing – Remember, in Alaska the sun doesn’t usually set in the summer until late in the evening so you’ll still be able to enjoy the views of Prince William Sound and Passage Canal as your ship sails from Whittier!

Comments

  1. Kevin Jenkins
    April 13th, 2009 | 1:08 pm

    My Carnival cruise salesperson didn’t even know this Whittier port was away from Anchorage, told me it was right there in Anchorage, by reading this blog it saved me a headache from getting news of the harbor terminal being so far from our airport entry. Gotta tell you it pays to research on your own.

    KDJ – Norco, CA

  2. April 15th, 2009 | 1:32 pm

    Glad we could be of help to you. Enjoy your cruise!

  3. Tom Lipsey
    May 26th, 2009 | 4:09 pm

    You mention Thrifty rental cars at the airport. Are there any rental cars that can be picked up at the Whittier Terminal and passengers can drive to the Anchorage Airport and drop off the car there? And if so, how can I rent them?

    Thanks,
    Tom Lipsey

  4. MARIA
    June 19th, 2009 | 11:05 am

    HI THERE, WE ARE IN A SIMILAR SITUATION EXCEPT BACKWARDS, WE WANT TO RENT A CAR AT ANCHORAGE AIRPORT AND DROP IT IN WHITTIER, I BELIEVE ENTERPRISE CAR RENTALS CAN HELP US… IF YOU FIND ONE PLEASE LET ME KNOW… THANKS.

  5. Debbie Raven
    April 13th, 2010 | 11:01 am

    We want to take an afternoon only (beginning of July 2010) to go on a glacier cruise from the Port of Whittier, yet all of the web sites I visit are for week long cruises. Could you please send me some info on taking a day cruise? I would like to compare several for price/lunch options if possible. Thank you.

  6. February 7th, 2013 | 7:56 pm

    my husband and i are doing the july 14 – 27, 2013 fairbanks to vancouver, canada escourted tours on land first. could you send me more info on whittier, alaska through my email.thanks.

  7. February 8th, 2013 | 7:37 am

    Lisa, Whittier is a small town with limited services. It is on Passage Canal which is an arm of Prince William Sound. The cruise lines that use the port are Princess and Norwegian this year. There are some nice day cruises and other water-based activities such as kayaking to do in Whittier but we usually recommend visiting Whittier for the day, not overnight. Nearby is Girdwood which is a beautiful community and a fun place to explorer as well. http://www.alaskatravel.com/whittier/

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