Whittier Cruise Port: Terminal, Directions and Info

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For those of you ready to embark on this type of journey, there is a good chance your voyage will involve a stop or even an embarkation departure at Whittier Cruise Port. It’s about a 90-minute drive southeast of Anchorage (and is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Anchorage Cruise Port).

We’re going to take an in-depth look at the popular Alaskan port. Not only will you learn all of the essential information you should know about the terminal and its facilities, but we will also dive into nearby amenities and attractions, seasonal conditions, and directions.

Whittier Cruise Port Location and Transportation Options 

The Whittier Cruise Port is about 60 miles southeast of Anchorage. If you are interested in an Anchorage excursion or visiting the city independently, you have a few options. By car, it takes about 90 minutes to travel between the port and Anchorage.

Your cruise line will likely provide transportation from the port to the various excursions, and private sightseeing tours are available. You also have the option to take the Alaska Railroad, which is about a two-and-a-half-hour journey. 

Cruise Lines Using Whittier Cruise Port 

Several major cruise lines, as well as others, make use of the Whittier cruise ship terminal, including ships operated by Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Oceania Cruises. Cruise lines will often use the port as a departure terminal for Alaska itineraries.

Whittier Port Terminal Facilities and Accessibility 

The accommodations at Whittier Cruise Port are somewhat sparse. Public restrooms are available inside the terminal. There are no shops or restaurants inside, but there are a few stores and small cafes nearby.

Whittier Cruise Port Terminal
Whittier Cruise Port Terminal (Photo Credit: Paul Brady Photography)

Seating is also very limited inside the terminal, so passengers with mobility concerns should check with their cruise lines for assistance.

As for luggage, while there are no porters at this cruise ship terminal, there are luggage carts available for use. If you’re boarding your cruise at Whittier Cruise Port, there will be a luggage drop-off in the parking lot, and the cruise line will take care of loading your bags onto the ship. Note that there is no public Wi-Fi at the port area.

Seasonal Weather Conditions in Whittier, Alaska

Adding to the wild atmosphere of the Alaskan experience is that weather conditions can vary dramatically depending on when you visit. Here’s a basic seasonal guide so you can know how to pack and what to expect:

Portage Glacier Near Whittier, Alaska
Portage Glacier Near Whittier, Alaska (Photo Credit: MollieVerdick / Shutterstock)

Summer Season (June to August)

Summer is the peak tourist season in Alaska, especially in July. Temperatures during this period range from 50° to 70° F. With days stretching to as long as 20 hours of sunlight, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. 

Wear layered clothing, as temperatures can drop suddenly. While it is a dryer season by Alaskan standards, you can still expect rain showers. 

Fall Season (September to November)

Fall brings cooler temperatures, especially in the evenings. Expect temperature ranges between 30° and 50° F. With the cooler temperatures, you can also expect more active wildlife, especially bears preparing for winter hibernation. Again, wear layers and pack a warm, water-resistant jacket.

Read Also: The Best Time to Cruise Alaska: Months to Choose

Winter Season (December to February)

Unsurprisingly, winter in Whittier and the surrounding area is cold. Temperatures tend to range between 5° and 25° F, so make sure you pack warm clothing if you plan on spending time outdoors. You should also anticipate snow and ice, so winter-appropriate footwear and outerwear is a must. 

Spring Season (March to May)

Spring brings the return of milder temperatures in the 30° to 50° F range. Expect wet conditions, both from rainfall and the melting snow. Waterproof clothing and footwear are essential. 

Cruise Check-in Process and Security Procedures 

If you are boarding at the Whittier cruise port, you will want to follow your cruise line’s specific boarding instructions. Regardless of the cruise line, you should be able to quickly present valid photo identification and travel documents upon arrival at the port.

Whittier Cruise Terminal
Whittier Cruise Terminal (Photo Credit: dvlcom)

The port adheres to high-security standards, so you should leave plenty of time for luggage and bag checks and metal detector scans. You should know where your cruise ship is docked and which terminal you should report to ahead of time.

Navigating Between Anchorage and Whittier

Transportation is relatively straightforward for those arriving in Alaska by plane but needing to travel to their cruise port. Most cruise lines will provide a shuttle service from the Anchorage airport to the port or terminal you must travel to. The main way is via the AK-1, known as the Seward Highway. You’ll head south to Whittier and past Portage, and there will be some stunning views along the way!

The closest airport to the Whittier cruise terminal is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), about a 90-minute drive away. You’ll find many taxis and ride-share services at the airport to get you to Whittier, but be prepared. They can be expensive.

If you exit the Anchorage airport at the North Terminal, you’ll get a taxi near the arrivals area; from the South Terminal, you’ll get a ride near departures. Local shuttles offer direct transportation to the Whittier cruise ship terminal or half-day tours to sneak in a bit of sightseeing before boarding your cruise ship.

Seward Highway South
Seward Highway South (Photo Credit: Earl D. Walker / Shutterstock)

For those booking cruise itineraries that make stops in various Alaskan ports, transferring between ports will be handled for you. When booking your cruise, you will discover this is a relatively common occurrence on an Alaskan cruise.

Worth Reading: Your Guide to the Best Alaska Cruise Ports

Those booking back-to-back Alaskan cruises to enjoy everything the most northern state offers will find a cruise transfer relatively simple. This is thanks to the well-maintained highway system, railroads, and short-haul flights. 

During your voyage, you may dock at other ports, like Seward Cruise Ship Terminal, Juneau Cruise Port, Ketchikan Port, or Skagway Port. Each port will offer its own unique attractions, from picturesque fjords and glaciers to historic Alaskan landmarks. 

Walking Distance Amenities and Attractions 

Whittier is a small town and home to only a few hundred people, but there are some amazing things to do there, like day cruises into the Prince William Sound, where you can see glaciers, whales, otters, and thousands of seabirds. There are also plenty of outdoor adventure activities, including kayaking, jet skiing, and hiking.

View of Whittier, Alaska
View of Whittier, Alaska (Photo Credit: dvlcom / Shutterstock)

If you want something more cosmopolitan, spend some time in Anchorage. You can enjoy shopping in designer stores and exploring the city’s many art galleries and souvenir shops. You will also find a surprising number of restaurant options, from basic fast food chains to independently-owned, world-class restaurants. 

Downtown Anchorage is also home to the Anchorage Museum, where you can view artifacts relating to Alaska’s native population, as well as its pioneer heritage, natural history, and even the state’s surprising involvement in World War II. If the weather cooperates, you can rent bikes and take a ride downtown or try taking in the views along the bike trails surrounding the city. 

Dining and Shopping Recommendations in Anchorage

If you travel to Anchorage, you will find that the city offers a diverse range of culinary options. We strongly recommend sampling some fresh seafood and classic Alaskan dishes at ORSO, Ginger Restaurant, and Crush Bistro. Make sure you try the fresh Alaskan king crab and wild-caught salmon!

4th Avenue Downtown Anchorage
4th Avenue Downtown Anchorage (Photo Credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski)

For more casual dining experiences, there are plenty of burger joints and breweries within relatively close proximity to the cruise port. 49th State Brewing is an excellent option for trying local beer and picking up a souvenir. 

For shopping, the port area and downtown core offer plenty of stores. You will not have trouble finding boutique shops selling souvenirs and unique Alaskan art. Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall is located downtown, and it offers five levels. It can be a great option when the weather isn’t cooperating. 

Day trips to various outdoor activities from the Whittier cruise port to nearby Anchorage areas are also fairly straightforward. You might feel overwhelmed by just how much there is to do, so here are just a few of our top recommendations:

Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Native Heritage Center (Photo Credit: jet 67 / Shutterstock)

Kincaid Park

If you visit in winter, you can try cross-country skiing in Kincaid Park. The 20 miles of maintained trails are open to skiers in the winter but are also suitable for a hike when the snow melts. The park is just over 10 miles from the port, so it’s easy to get to.

Alaska Native Heritage Center

Located just 10 miles northeast of Anchorage, this immersive cultural center allows you to learn more about Alaska’s native population through demonstrations and interactive exhibits. It’s well worth the drive or cab ride. 

Chugach State Park

While joining a trailhead directly from Anchorage is possible, Chugach State Park offers different starting points, so you can see Alaska’s lush forests, towering peaks, and famed wildlife exactly how you would like to.

Flattop Mountain is also located within the park. Hikers can enjoy the stunning views of Anchorage and the surrounding wilderness from the top of the trail. 

Portage Glacier

If you want to see this iconic glacier firsthand, you can travel to it from Anchorage in roughly 1.5 hours by car. Although it’s 50 miles southeast of the city, numerous shuttle services offer affordable rides to and from the glacier. Once there, you can even take a boat tour across Portage Lake to get an up-close view of the glacier itself. 

Excursions Offered by Cruise Lines

Another draw of Alaskan cruises is the abundance of excursion providers and activities that take advantage of Alaska’s unique outdoor wilderness. As always, make sure you are booking through your cruise line if you are only making a port of call stop in the area.

Crow Pass, Alaska
Crow Pass, Alaska (Photo Credit: Milan Sommer / Shutterstock)

These partnered excursion providers work with your cruise line to ensure that you and other passengers will return to the ship in time for departure. You will find that most cruise lines that routinely stop in the port offer the following shore excursions and activities:

Fishing Experiences

Thanks to Alaska’s famed salmon fishing, you can enjoy freshwater and saltwater fishing experiences just outside Anchorage. The Kenai River is located just a few hours outside the city and offers some of North America’s most famous salmon runs. Freshwater lake trout fishing excursions and various forms of fly fishing during the summer months are also popular.

Guided Hiking and Wildlife Tours

You will find no shortage of guided shore excursions that enable participants to view some of Alaska’s famed wildlife and terrain. Popular tours include hiking to Crow Pass Trail and Eagle River Nature Center. Many offer views of glaciers, historic collapsed mines, and snow-capped mountains. 

Some tours are aimed directly at wildlife viewing, so you will be taken by vehicle or boat to try and get up-close views of bears, moose, bald eagles, and other species native to the state.

Read Also: What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

Sea Kayaking and Boat Tours

In the warmer months, you can book guided kayak tours that allow you to paddle along the coastline. Smaller boat tours also take guests along scenic shorelines and in search of whales and other marine life, like otters, seals, and more!

Frequently Asked Questions on Whittier Cruise Port

Where in Anchorage do cruise ships dock?

Cruise ships don’t actually dock in Anchorage. They use Whittier Cruise Port or other nearby ports, including Seward Cruise Ship Terminal, Juneau Cruise Port, Ketchikan Port, or Skagway Port.

Do any cruise ships leave from Anchorage? 

Cruise ships don’t leave Anchorage directly, but most popular cruise lines have cruises that depart from one of the ports close to Anchorage.

How do I get from Whittier to Anchorage after the cruise?

The most common way to get between Whittier and Anchorage is by car, which takes about 90 minutes. You can also ride the Alaska Railroad, which is about a two-and-a-half-hour scenic train journey.

Emrys Thakkar
Emrys Thakkar
The founder of Cruise Hive which was established in 2008 as one of the earliest cruise blogs in the industry. Emrys has been reporting on the latest cruise industry news since the site first launched. Expert insights and tips featured on a number of publications including The Express, Business Insider, and more. Worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 8 years and is well and truly dedicated to cruising! Has also been on a number of cruises so can offer an insight into the industry that many will not be able to do. What's even more impressive is that Emrys has traveled the world by visiting more than 34 countries, lived in China for 8 years, and cruised the Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe. Find out more about us here.

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