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Whittier is one of the oddest cruise ports in the world. Whittier is located at the head of Passage Canal, which is part of the Prince William Sound. It sits 62 road miles from Anchorage and was originally established as a military supply port during WWII. It is now a focal point for fishing and freight transport. The arrival of cruise lines has added tourism to Whittier's commerce as it is used as a departure port. Whittier's main claim to fame is the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, a 2.5 mile access tunnel that combines alternate one-way vehicle and rail traffic and is longest tunnel through a mountain in North America.
 
With a year-round population of just 200 people--most of whom live in the 15 story Begich Towers building--the city serves its purpose as an alternative port to Seward for passengers embarking or debarking for Anchorage. It's wet here, and most of the time it's cloudy and fog-covered. The infrastructure of the city was built in the 1940s and 1950s, when it was an army base, and served as the gateway for soldiers coming to Alaska from the lower 48.
 
Your ship will make port at the Whittier cruise ship dock, located at the southern end of the town.
 
The Alaska Railroad has a spur line that connects Whittier to Portage, and then onward to Anchorage. To get to Portage, the rail line passes through two tunnels, which are considered a minor engineering feat. Taking the railroad is a great way to see some of the scenic beauty of Alaska as you make your way to Anchorage.
 
The summer is the nicest time of the year in Whittier; it only gets, on average, 10 inches of rain per month, the average daily high is in the low-60s (F), and the sun rises above the mountain that sits in back of the town
 
Where You are Dock
The new cruise-ship terminal, located at the mouth of Whittier Creek, doesn't offer much, other than efficient check-in and disembarkation facilities; a rack offers brochures on tours, eateries and the few existing shops. Passengers disembark in the heart of a tiny business/residential district.Whittier is the Anchorage embarkation/disembarkation port for Princess Cruises. In 2015, the port will be visited by the Grand Princess, the Coral Princess, the Star Princess and the Pacific Princess. In 2015, Whittier is slated to host 61,000 cruise ship passengers sailing on 35 ships, down 23% and even, respectively, from 2014.
 
Whittier has more use as a staging ground for getting out on Prince William Sound. The town itself is rather industrial. There is a cruise-ship terminal, where you can pick up a guidebook. There are a few restrooms around the small boat harbor. As a rule, Princess' ships arrive at the cruise ship dock in Whittier around 12:30 am, and depart at 8:30 pm
 
For people who are coming independently from Anchorage and do not have a cruise-line transfer, check out The Magic Bus, which departs from the Anchorage Museum of History and Fine Art at 7th and A streets at 9:45 a.m. daily, May through September; the trip takes about 90 minutes, includes narration and picture stops, and drops at Princess dock at noon. For reservations, call 800-208-0200. You can also get there by train: Call the Alaska Railroad at 800-544-0552; the trip takes about 2.5 hours.
 
Once in town, there is no need for taxis or shuttles -- everything in town is within walking distance.
Getting into town is, however, one of the highlights of a visit: The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is like no other. You enter what looks like a Swiss Chalet structure and ride for 2.5 miles on a railroad track through the narrow pass cut into a mountain. The tunnel is actually shared by rail and vehicle traffic -- when one is inside, the other is not; they switch every half hour.
 
If you are planning an overnight stay before or after your cruise, we highly recommend staying in Anchorage because there is much more to see and do in town, and there are more accommodation options. However, we have also included a few suggestions for places to stay in Whittier if you are feeling a bit adventurous.
 
Getting Around
For people who are coming independently from Anchorage and do not have a cruise-line transfer, check out The Magic Bus, which departs from the Anchorage Museum of History and Fine Art at 7th and A streets at 9:45 a.m. daily, May through September; the trip takes about 90 minutes, includes narration and picture stops, and drops at Princess dock at noon. For reservations, call 800-208-0200, e-mail info@themagicbus.com, or visit www.alaskatravel.com. You can also get there by train: Call the Alaska Railroad at 800-544-0552, or visit www.alaskarailroad.com; the trip takes about 2.5 hours. Once in town, there is no need for taxis or shuttles -- everything in town is within walking distance.
 
Head off in search of glaciers. Phillips' Cruises and Tours (800-544-0529; www.26glaciers.com) offers a 4.5-hour, 26-glacier cruise of the Sound on a fast, three-deck catamaran, counting the glaciers as they go. Major Marine Tours (800-764-7300; www.majormarine.com) operates a smaller, 149-passenger vessel that visits 10 glaciers and puts an emphasis on food (for an extra fee) with an all-you-can-eat salmon and prime rib buffet.
 
See a whale. Sound Eco Adventures (888-471-2312; www.soundecoadventure.com) features a retired wildlife biologist who specializes in whale-watching tours.
 
Things To See and Do
Begich Towers is the main residence in town and is what you'd expect of a 1940's military structure, including dark, narrow halls. Although you obviously cannot enter residents' apartments, anyone can go inside the building: Everything in town is located there, including the grocery store on the first floor and a medical clinic on the third. This is an unusual setup, even for quirky Alaska.
 
Go fishing. About 30 charter fishing boats operate out of Whittier. The Whittier Harbormaster keeps a list (call 907-472-2337). You can arrange to have your catch shipped home.
 
Prince William Sound Museum focuses on Whittier's military history, specifically that of World War II and the construction of the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. The small museum shares space with the Anchor Inn.

Head off in search of glaciers. Phillips' Cruises and Tours (800-544-0529) offers a 4.5-hour, 26-glacier cruise of the Sound on a fast, three-deck catamaran, counting the glaciers as they go. Major Marine Tours (800-764-7300) operates a smaller, 149-passenger vessel that visits 10 glaciers and puts an emphasis on food (for an extra fee) with an all-you-can-eat salmon and prime rib buffet.
 
See a whale. Sound Eco Adventures (888-471-2312) features a retired wildlife biologist who specializes in whale-watching tours.
 
Shore Excursions
Hunting and Fishing Tours: Hunt or fish with experienced, registered guides at Gas and Time Alaskan Outfitters.
 
Kayaking Tour: Guided kayaking trips from Whittier are provided by Lazy Otter Charters. Explore Blackstone Bay up close then enjoy lunch on the beach or boat.
 
Flight seeing Tour: Tour the rocky fjords of Prince William Sound from the air, including a glacier landing, with Alpine Air Alaska. The tour takes about 90 minutes.
 
Accommodations
Your best bet is to stay in Anchorage. Here are a few options:
 
Best for Families: Consider the newly refurbished Millennium Hotel (4800 Spenard Road; 866-866-8086). Children younger than 17 stay free in the same room as their parent(s), and the property is located just one mile from the airport.
 
Middle of the Road: The Westmark Anchorage (720 W. 5th Ave.; 800-544-0970), six miles from the airport, offers private balconies in every room for reasonable rates; the hotel also features a sushi bar and tour desk.
 
Best for a Splurge: Hotel Captain Cook (4th and K Streets; 800-843-1950), six miles from the airport, offers luxury accommodations, a salon and spa, and several sophisticated restaurants.
 
If you decide to stay in Whittier:
 
Live Like the Locals: On the top two floors of Begich Towers, June's Whittier Bed and Breakfast Condo Suites (Begich Towers; 888-472-2396) allows guests to experience the local way of life, which includes great views and hummingbirds feeding at the windows. All 10 condos have full kitchens.
 
Local Hub: In the center of Whittier is Historic Anchor Inn (Whittier St.; 877-870-8787), which houses guests in the historic Army Communications and Headquarters, which date back to Whittier's World War II military days. Each unit has a kitchenette, dining table, telephone and television. Downstairs are a restaurant, laundromat, convenience store, lounge and museum.

Eating Out
Head to the waterfront to dine at one of the few restaurants. there are more places to eat in Whittier than you’d expect. Don’t expect haute cuisine or much in the way of ambience. But you can’t go wrong with seafood, and if you like Chinese food, you’re also in luck. Because everything has to be shipped in, prices are relatively high, and service can be leisurely.
 
China Sea -- There's a good Chinese place, the Korean-owned China Sea (907-472-2222), which features specials like Kung Pao halibut. Fresh seafood dishes like Kung Pao Halibut and Prince William Sound Soup are tasty and well-prepared. Chinese menu staples like fried rice and Mongolian Beef. They also serve Asian beer.
Inn at Whittier -- Most attractive dining room in Whittier with gorgeous views of Prince William Sound. Delicious breakfasts.
Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Café -- Excellent halibut, fish and chips, rockfish, and chowder. Small deck with harbor views and 30 kinds of beer. If you’re lucky, they’ll still have a serving of rhubarb crisp left.
Wild Catch Café -- Cozy spot with a fireplace. Hearty breakfasts, free-range burgers and salmon burgers, sandwiches, and chowder. Convenient before or after a boat tour.
Lazy Otter Cafe & Gifts (907-472-3000) is the place for espresso, breakfast, lunch and ice cream.
 
Shopping
Shopping isn't a draw in Whittier. You won’t find much more than basics in Whittier. The Anchor Inn Store on Whittier Street stocks a little bit of everything – hardware, groceries, batteries, and sunglasses. If you forgot something, the Harbor Store at Lot 8 in the Small Boat Harbor, or the grocery store in Begich Towers are your best bets. Perhaps the best souvenir is catching a huge sockeye salmon to ship home or, if you're lucky, catching video of Blackstone Glacier calving in Prince William Sound. 






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