Whittier (Anchorage), Alaska

Whittier (Anchorage), Alaska

Whittier serves as a gateway to the glacier and wildlife-filled Prince William Sound and it is now experiencing a Gold Rush of sorts as an alternative embarkation and disembarkation port to ship-crowded Seward. Princess Cruises primarily homeports ships here for the entire Alaska season.

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, with Prince William Sound just steps away, there is plenty for cruisers to do with a few hours to kill in Whittier.

Whittier is a tiny city in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, in the American state of Alaska.

Begich Towers is the main residence in town, everything is located there, including the grocery store on the first floor and a medical clinic on the third.

Take a chartered fishing boat out of Whittier and go fishing.

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.

Book a glacier tour on board a catamaran for a 26 glacier cruise of the Sound or a whale watching trip.

However, many visitors head to Anchorage, which is around 60 miles away.

The main downtown area of Anchorage is quite small and easily walkable. Most attractions are located between C and L Streets and 3rd and 8th Avenues.

The Anchorage Museum and Alaska Native Heritage Center are two places of interest to visit.

G Street is where you’ll find art galleries. At the weekend only Anchorage Market and Festival, you’ll find everything from fur hats and native crafts to jewelry and food items. Head to 4th-6th Streets for souvenirs such as t-shirts, bear-claw salad tongs and ulu knives.

Alaska has the greatest concentration of glaciers in the USA. The nearest is 50 miles south of Anchorage, called Portage Glacier.

At Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre, south of Anchorage, injured and orphaned animals are rescued and rehabilitated in their wildlife preserve. Moose, bear, musk oxen, caribou and bison are kept in outdoor enclosures, similar to their native habitats.

The disabled cruiser visiting Whittier

Where You’re Docked

The 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.

Cruise ships dock at the terminal located at the mouth of Whittier Creek. There are limited facilities here, Whittier is tiny and only offers a handful of shops and restaurants.

Buses and trains can be taken from the terminal to Anchorage 60 miles away. The journey takes you through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, which is shared between rail and vehicular traffic.

Good to Know

It rains a lot in Whittier; bring your rain jacket and managed expectations. Even if the tour you’re on boasts 26 glaciers, you might only see one or two due to cloud cover (still, the one or two are pretty amazing). 

Getting Around

On Foot: Once in town, there is no need for taxis or shuttles; everything in town is within walking distance.

By Bus: 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 (7th and C streets) at 9:45 a.m. daily, May through September; the trip takes about 90 minutes, includes narration and picture stops, and drops at the Princess dock at noon. You can also get there by train: Call the Alaska Railroad; the trip takes about 2.5 hours.

By Car: If you’re driving to or from Whittier be sure to have the schedule for the historic Anton Anderson Tunnel, built during WWII, it’s the only way in or out. Open to vehicles since 2000, the tunnel is used by the train and cars, but in one direction at a time. Be sure to catch the next opening in your direction or you might be waiting in line for another hour.

Currency 

Currency is the U.S. dollar. An ATM is available at the Harbor Store (also the site of the Avis Rental Center) at Lot 8 Small Boat Harbor.

Language

English is spoken in Whittier.

Shopping

Shopping isn’t a major draw in Whittier, but Log Cabin Gifts (907-472-2501) provides some of the most unique handcrafted items we found during our entire Alaska trip. Handmade leather bags, ornaments and other Alaskan mementos are designed and made by Brenda, a resident for more than three decades who also happens to own a pet reindeer.

Perhaps the the most rewarding souvenir is catching a huge sockeye salmon to ship home (or you can pick up some fresh seafood already caught for you, namely PWS’ famous spot shrimp at Alaska Seafood. Both are located in The Triangle, an area in the harbor where restaurants and shops are clustered.

The dining scene in Whittier is eclectic, simply because there is not a ton to choose from. You’ll find fresh doughnuts, solid Chinese food and heralded fish ‘n’ chips, but dietary restrictions could prove cumbersome. Head to the waterfront to dine at one of the few but reliable restaurants.

Points of Interest

  • Whittier – a seven-

Whittier Accessible Excursions

Whether your cruise ship stops in 

Whittier Accessible Guided Tour

This 4 hour accessible