Photo Credit: Kathleen Barth

How to Get from Anchorage to Your Cruise Port in Whittier or Seward (or the reverse!)

Traveling between Anchorage and your cruise ship in Seward or Whittier doesn’t have to be a mere transfer. The route traverses some of the most scenic and interesting country in coastal southern Alaska. Think of it as an opportunity to explore stunning natural features and tap into unique Alaskan experiences. The same goes for those who dock in Seward or Whittier and then need transport to the city. Every great Alaskan cruise can begin (or end) with a fun day trip!

To and From Seward | To and From Whittier

A few things to keep in mind:

  • How much time do you have between connections? You need a minimum of about two hours to travel between Anchorage and Whittier, and about two-and-a-half hours to travel between Anchorage and Seward. Every additional hour in your schedule makes another stop possible and adds flexibility to your itinerary.
  • The 60-mile trip between Anchorage and Whittier traverses the spectacular Turnagain Arm fiord and Portage Valley, passing the resort town of Girdwood along the way.
  • The 125-mile trip between Anchorage and Seward follows the Anchorage-Whittier route for its first 50 miles, then veers off into the heart of the Kenai Mountains, skirts Kenai Lake and passes the road to Exit Glacier inside Kenai Fjords National Park before arriving at the port.
  • You can often book your transfer directly through your cruise line. Generally, this puts you on a bus or motor coach. It can be the simplest and most direct option, a good choice for people on a tight schedule.
  • If you have many spare hours, or even a day or more, consider booking your connection through a local tour operator. This option opens the door to adventures and interesting sights during your transfer journey.
  • Consider arriving in Seward at least a day before you embark. The pedestrian friendly port village has gobs of activities, with lodging and restaurants, museums and a public aquarium, plus hiking, paddling and fishing. It’s a launch point for deep-sea fishing and marine tours into Kenai Fjords National Park.
  • Consider arriving in Whittier at least half a day early. This rugged outpost at the head of Passage Canal is the gateway to Prince William Sound, with commercial marine tours and a visitor-oriented quad on the shore east of the marina. Easy walking between the cruise ship dock and Whittier’s shore-side amenities.
  • Consider giving yourself an extra day or two in Anchorage. Alaska’s largest city features enough activities and venues to fill a week or two all by itself, so you won’t run out of things to do and places to go. Museums, hotels, restaurants, live performances, and hundreds of miles of maintained trails.
The Coastal Classic turns in front of Bartlett Glacier

The Coastal Classic turns in front of Bartlett Glacier

To and From Seward

Ride the Alaska Railroad

  • The Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic traverses Turnagain Arm and then the Kenai Mountains on a historic backcountry route. The train passes three active glaciers while crossing a tract of almost inaccessible wilderness. The 120-mile rail excursion—the most scenic in the state—takes about four hours.
  • To Seward: The train leaves Anchorage at 6:45 am and arrives in Seward about 11 am.
  • To Anchorage: The train leaves Seward about 6 pm and arrives in Anchorage about 10:15 pm. For most of the season, it will still be light when you arrive. It starts getting dark in Anchorage around 10:30 pm toward the end of August.
  • Adventure Class service features lower level cars with comfortable seats beside large picture windows. The Gold Star service features upper level (second story) seating with domed windows, bar, outdoor viewing deck, and dining car just below.
  • You can walk about the train en route, use restrooms, eat in the dining car, catch the view through windows on both sides.
  • Luggage is checked in the baggage car while you bring carry-on items with you.
  • The train slows for wildlife—bald eagles and their nests, moose, even (sometimes) bears. You will see glaciers, waterfalls, wild rivers, big lakes, rugged mountains and extensive wetlands.

Ride a Deluxe Motor Coach

  • The Park Connection Motorcoach features several options that can transport you between Anchorage and Seward faster than the train. The 52-passenger touring coaches feature comfortable seating and lots of leg room, USB and powerports, big picture windows, with space for two checked bags and carry-on.
  • The Seward Express segment of their northbound service leaves Seward at 10:30 am and arrives in Anchorage at 1:30 pm. The southbound service leaves Anchorage at 3 pm and arrives in Seward at 5:45 pm.
  • Check out their cruise ship transfer service, aimed specifically making connections with the major lines when they dock in Seward.
  • The drive follows the 125-mile Seward Highway—traversing Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Mountains. The route parallels the train for the first 50 miles, then climbs through 1,000-foot Turnagain Pass into the heart of heart of the mountains. Alaskans love this drive for its sweeping views of peaks, lakes and gorges.
The Park Connection follows the scenic Turnagain Arm

The Park Connection follows the scenic Turnagain Arm

Rent a Car One-Way

  • Renting a car will give you maximum freedom to stop and explore anyplace that catches your fancy on the 125-mile drive between Anchorage and Seward. And, if you’re in a hurry, it can be the fastest travel mode of all. Many agencies allow one-way rentals. But this option can be more expensive.
  • The same goes for reverse: Seward to Anchorage. Hertz of Seward, for instance, offers one-way rentals to Anchorage for roughly $275/day.

Salmon Berry Tours

  • You can depart Anchorage with Salmon Berry Tours in the morning and head to Girdwood. Ride the tram up Mt Alyeska and have lunch in an alps-like setting.
  • Next visit the Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage with wood bison, brown bears, wolves, moose, caribou and more. Later, stop at Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. Once in Seward, you will be dropped off at the cruise ship terminal in good time.
  • If departing Seward it's the same tour, just the reverse! When you start in Seward, the guides can drop you off at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport or your hotel.

Big Swig Brewery Tours

  • Under the Big Swig’s Alaska Crafter Tour & Cruise Transfer from Seward service, you will be picked up at the Seward Cruise Terminal and transported to Anchorage.
  • Included in the tour is a tram ride and lunch atop Mt. Alyeska, followed by behind-the-scenes tours and tastings at Girdwood Brewing Co., Anchorage Distillery, and Double Shovel Cider Co. After it’s over, the guides can drop you off at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport or your Anchorage hotel.
  • Only available when traveling from Seward to Anchorage. No “to Seward” option.

To and From Whittier

Stop into the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Stop into the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Ride the Alaska Railroad

  • The Whittier option of the Alaska Railroad Glacier Discovery Train travels down the stunning Turnagain Arm to Portage, ducks into Portage Valley and then follows the 2.5-mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel beneath Maynard Mountain to the port of Whittier.
  • The train leaves Anchorage at 9:45 am and arrives in Whittier about 12:05 pm—just over two hours.
  • Adventure Class service features one-level cars with comfortable seats beside large picture windows. The Wilderness Café snack bar is available, but there is no full sit-down dining.
  • Baggage service is available when traveling to-and-from Anchorage.
  • The train depot in Whittier is a short walk to the cruise ship terminal.
  • Several different schedules go in reverse—including two itineraries from Whittier to Anchorage. Depending upon your connection, the train might not go directly to Anchorage.

Ride a Deluxe Motor Coach

  • The Park Connection Motorcoach offers transport between Anchorage and Whittier that’s faster than the train. The 52-passenger touring coaches feature comfortable seating and lots of leg room, USB and powerports, big picture windows, with space for two checked bags and carry-on.
  • The route traverses stunning Turnagain Arm and the Portage Valley, including a drive through the 2.5-mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel.
  • The Anchorage-to-Whittier option leaves Anchorage at 3 pm and arrives at the cruise ship terminal in Whittier at 5 pm. On cruise ship days only.
  • The Whittier-to-Anchorage option leaves the cruise ship terminal at 9:45 am and arrives in Anchorage at noon. Cruise ship days only.

Rent a Car One-Way

Salmon Berry Tours

Discover Alaska through local craft brews

Discover Alaska through local craft brews

  • Depart Anchorage in the morning with Salmon Berry Tours and head to Girdwood. Ride the tram up Mt Alyeska and have lunch in a stunning alps-like setting.
  • Next visit the Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage with bison, brown bears, wolves, moose, caribou and more.
  • Finally, drive through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to the cruise ship terminal in Whittier.
  • If arriving in Whittier, it's the same tour, just the reverse! When you start in Whittier, the guides can drop you off at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport or your hotel in Anchorage.

Big Swig Brewery Tours

  • Under the Big Swig’s Alaska Crafter Tour & Cruise Transfer from Whittier service, you will be picked up at the cruise terminal and transported to Anchorage.
  • Included in the tour is a tram ride and lunch atop Mt. Alyeska, followed by behind-the-scenes tours and tastings at Girdwood Brewing Co., Anchorage Distillery, and Double Shovel Cider Co. After it’s over, the guides can drop you off at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport or your Anchorage hotel.
  • Only available when traveling from Whittier to Anchorage. No “to Whittier” option.

Comments

Explore Further