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Help with extra time in Whittier

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Help with extra time in Whittier

Hello - My cruise ends in Whittier at midnight and I understand that you usually debark starting around 7AM. Our flight out of Anchorage is at midnight. My mom has her heart set on taking the Alaska rail but that doesn't leave Whittier until 6:45PM so am uncertain as to the best way to spend our time in Whittier. I've considered:

1. Taking the Alaska rail from Whittier to Grandview to Anchorage but that would mean 8.5 hrs on the train OR:

2. Doing a Glacier tour around Whittier and then taking the 6:45 train but after a week on a cruise and a possible excursion in Skagway on a small, speed boat, I'm not sure that I want to take another boat tour.

I've looked into taking the train from Whittier towards Grandview but getting off somewhere and getting back on the train to Anchorage. Any suggestions? Please note I will be with my parents who are in their 60s and 70s and we will have our luggage with us. Thank you!!

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Alaska
Alaska
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Skagway
Skagway
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fti
MN
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1. Re: Help with extra time in Whittier

You are correct in that you won't disembark the cruise until after 7am. When do you arrive in Whittier?

With your mother's heart set on the train there is not much you can do. The train goes through one of the most scenic parts of the state, but it doesn't stop. If you rented a car you would have all day to explore that entire area at your own pace. There is so much to see/do. You have several options:

1 - take the Prince William Sound tour. It gets closer to glaciers than you will have gotten the night before on your cruise ship. It will also give you a chance to see more marine wildlife and waterfalls (and closer) than you saw from your ship.

2 - rent a car in Whittier for the day. This might be your best bet. You can easily get through the 9am tunnel. Avis is the only rental company in Whittier. You can leave your luggage with them if it doesn't fit in your car. Drive along Turnagain Arm, stopping at various places (see Top Questions about Girdwood for ideas). Have lunch in Girdwood. You can do a lot between 9am and the 5.30pm tunnel back to Whittier. You might even get as far as Potter Marsh. You are looking at something like $100 for a car for a day plus gas. That is only about $35/person if there are three of you and would probably be the best use of your time for the day. Note that there is a $12 tunnel fee from the "outside" to Whittier but no fee to return from Whittier.

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Prince William Sound
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Girdwood
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2. Re: Help with extra time in Whittier

There is a cruise contracted train that leaves for Anchorage in the morning. You'll have to book that through the cruise line and expect to pay more than the regular passenger train in the evening. You can then store your luggage at the airport for the day, rent a car etc..

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3. Re: Help with extra time in Whittier

These are really helpful suggestions! Rather than renting a car, are there any bus tours that leave out of and return to Whittier. I found a full day airport transfer but that would bring us to Anchorage.

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4. Re: Help with extra time in Whittier

Here's another idea... take a taxi to Seward. You could stop along the way at the conservation center and for pictures. Seward has the Sealife Center, a museum, Exit Glacier, dogsled rides, flightseeing etc. and then the train to Anchorage that evening. What time is your flight? The train departs Seward at 6pm and arrives in Anc at 10:20pm

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Exit Glacier
Exit Glacier
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Seward
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5. Re: Help with extra time in Whittier

The poster said the flight departs at midnight, so the Seward option is really cutting it close with the train arriving at 10.20pm. They would not get to the airport until 11pm, even later if the train ends up being late. A huge potential for disaster, though if the flight were later it would be a great option.

Why aren't you interested in renting a car? It is SO easy. Literally one road from Whittier to the Seward Highway junction and then turn right for as long as you want on the only road toward Anchorage. I guarantee there is absolutely no way to get lost!

No there are no bus tours that start and end in Whittier. That is a very unusual itinerary you want - you would be the only ones on the tour :-).

Edited: 16 August 2013, 05:22
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6. Re: Help with extra time in Whittier

The only cruise line contracted trains I know of out of Whittier are direct trains to Talkeetna OR Denali. They do not stop at Anchorage. Perhaps you could go to Talkeetna and take the regular train back to Anchorage which gets there at 8 p.m. Would give you a day at Talkeetna. The southbound train leaves around 5 in the afternnoon. I do not know what time the Princess train arrives.

Philipps Cruises do afternoon cruises from Whittier. Be aware that the train from Whittier and Grandview gets to Anchorage at 9.15 p.m. You will need a taxi to get to the airport and may need to call for one if none waiting at railroad station.

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Denali
Denali
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Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
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7. Re: Help with extra time in Whittier

Thanks everyone. We just got back from our cruise and settled on the glacier cruise. We spent a few hours waiting around for the glacier cruise after disembarkation and another hour after the glacier cruise for the Alaska rail only to discover when we got to the train station (through a Princess employee) that the train had broken down and Alaska rail had sent a bus for the stranded rail passengers over an hour ago. We got to the train station at 6:20 for the 6:45 train but apparently the bus that Alaska rail sent left around 5ish so I’m not sure why the bus would have left before the scheduled train time. There were no more motorcoaches for that evening back to Anchorage. Fortunately, Princess had a bus for employees leaving for Anchorage at that moment and we were able to hop on that bus. I can’t believe Alaska rail stranded us without even trying to reach out to us! We would not have been able to get out of Whittier to catch our flight if it hadn’t been for the coincidental timing of the Princess employee’s bus. I left a VM with Alaska rail that day (two days ago!) for someone to call me back to get a refund and to put in a complaint and no response at all. I would highly discourage anyone from booking Alaska rail! Very disappointing end to our trip. I will also be posting this as a review under Alaska rail but just wanted to let as many people know about this.

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8. Re: Help with extra time in Whittier

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