The town of Whittier, Alaska is located just south of Anchorage. Although small, this town is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the state and is also quite a popular destination for fishing.
There are many other incredible reasons to visit Whittier, but the 26 Glacier Cruise is definitely, the main attraction that draws visitors to this special place.
I had the opportunity to take this tour last summer and it was an unforgettable experience. The cruise takes you on a boat ride through Prince William Sound, where you get up close and personal with breathtaking glaciers and lots of Alaskan wildlife.
The experience was truly unique and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Alaska. Cruising is one of the best ways to see Alaska. So, if you are looking for an adventure, the 26 Glacier Cruise is a must-do!
Phillip Cruises (the company I chose), company offers different glacier tours, but I chose the 26 Glacier Cruise because it lasted the whole day and went to more glaciers than any of their other options.
In this post, I will tell you all bout my experience on what I honestly think is one of the best cruises to take in Alaska.
How to get to Whittier
First thing first. As I previously mentioned, the 26 Glacier Cruise leaves from the town of Whittier, Alaska.
There are a few ways to get to Whittier:
- You can take the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage. The ride takes about 2 hours and costs around $60 per person.
- You can take the Whittier Shuttle for only $42
- Lastly, you can of course drive from Anchorage. The drive takes about 1 hour and is very scenic, especially because you will have to drive through the Whittier Tunnel, one of the country’s longest tunnels!
I chose to take the Alaska Railroad because I wanted to sit back and relax on my way there. Once you arrive in Wittier, all you have to do is follow the signs to the cruise terminal. It’s very hard to miss.
There are a few restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops within walking distance from the terminal. I would recommend grabbing a quick bite to eat before the tour.
Where to stay for the Glacier Cruise
If you are visiting Whittier only for the cruise, there is not much point in staying overnight. The cruise terminal is located right smack in the middle of town and the town is very small, so you will be able to walk to everything you need.
However, if you do wish to explore Whittier a bit more or you are staying in Alaska for a longer period of time, there are a few accommodation options.
Inn At Whittier is the only hotel located in Whittier. This hotel is very basic, but it`s clean and centrally located. Another option is to stay in Glacier View Condo Suites in town.
There are also a few campgrounds located near Whittier if you are looking for a more rustic experience.
If you are only coming for the day, staying in Anchorage is probably the best option. Anchorage is only about an hour away from Whittier and there are plenty of things to do and accommodation options in the city. Some of my favourites are:
Preparing for the Cruise
Now that you know how to get to Whittier, it’s time to start preparing for your tour. First, you need to decide which company you want to take your tour with. A few different companies offer glacier cruises in Whittier, but I recommend Phillip Cruises.
I chose Phillip Cruises because they had by far the best reviews and their prices were very reasonable.
Once you have chosen a company, you need to book your tour. I recommend booking your tour in advance, especially if you are visiting during peak season (May-September).
You can either book online or over the phone. I booked my tour online and I received a confirmation email immediately.
Remember: this tour is not really available during winter so the time of your trip to Alaska will define if it is even a possibility. If you do visit in winter, concentrate on land-based destinations and activities, like visiting some of Alaska’s National Parks.
On the day of the Cruise
On the day of your tour, make sure to arrive at the cruise terminal at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time. This will give you enough time to check in and explore the terminal a bit.
Once you have checked in, you will receive a boarding pass and a meal voucher. Hang on to this boarding pass because you will need it to board the boat. Now, all you have to do is wait for your tour to start!
The 26 Glacier Cruise Itinerary
The 26 Glacier Tour lasted about 5 hours and took us to several different glaciers in Prince William Sound. I must say that I never in my life imagined it would be possible to see so many glaciers in one day!
The tour started with a short boat ride from the Whittier terminal to Passage Canal, where we saw our first glacier up close. From there, we continued cruising through Prince William Sound, stopping at several different glaciers along the way.
Passage Canal is a narrow waterway that connects Prince William Sound to the Gulf of Alaska. This is where we saw our first glimpse of glaciers! We saw five glaciers in Passage Canal, including Blackstone Glacier and Warren Glacier.
Next, we entered College Fjord, where we saw some of the most beautiful glaciers in Alaska. Some of the glaciers we saw in College Fjord included: Yale Glacier, Harvard Glacier, Columbia Glacier, and Seward Glacier.
Last but not least, we entered Harriman Fjord, where we saw seven glaciers, including the Coxe Glacier, Barry Glacier, Cascade Glacier, Serpentine Glacier, Baker Glacier, Surprise Glacier, Cataract Glacier, Roaring Glacier, and Harriman Glacier.
Highlights of the 26 Glacier Cruise
Getting to hear the glacier “calve”
When chunks of ice break off the glacier and fall into the water, it`s called “calving.” We were lucky enough to witness this a few times during our tour and it was truly amazing. The sound of the ice breaking and falling into the water is something that I will never forget.
Seeing so many glaciers in one day
As I said before, I never imagined it would be possible to see so many glaciers in one day. The 26 Glacier Tour did not disappoint. I was amazed by the beauty of each and every glacier we saw. If you love glaciers, this tour is definitely for you.
Even on a cloudy day, we got to see tons of wildlife, including sea lions, seals, eagles, and even a bear walking on the beach.
But my absolute favourite thing was seeing a baby humpback whale jumping three times right next to the boat! She was definitely a show-off. If you love animals, you will definitely enjoy this aspect of the tour.
Knowledgeable and entertaining tour guide
The person narrating the tour was actually a National Park ranger, so we felt like we were in good hands. She was extremely knowledgeable about the glaciers and the area in general, and he was also very entertaining. She made the tour even more enjoyable.
Nice seafood lunch
Lunch was included in the price of the tour, and it was actually really good! I enjoyed the salmon chowder and salad, and the freshly baked cookies in the afternoon were a wonderful touch.
Beverages like tea, water, and coffee were also included and you could purchase alcoholic drinks for a reasonable price at the cruise`s bar.
Cons of the Cruise
The only real downside of the tour is that it can be a bit pricey, at $179 plus tax per adult. But in my opinion, it is definitely worth it, especially if you have never been on a glacier cruise, don’t have a lot of time in Alaska or are celebrating a special day with your family.
Another thing to know is that seats on the boat are preassigned and some – the ones located by the windows – have way better views than the seats in the middle, which have no view at all and might feel unfair.
What to Bring on the Cruise
Since lunch is included, you don’t really have to worry about bringing food. But I would recommend bringing soft drinks like soda if you wish!
Also, you should know it can get VERY cold and windy on the boat, so make sure to dress warmly and in layers. I would also recommend bringing binoculars if you have them. Also, definitely wear a windproof jacket.
And finally, don’t forget your camera! You will want to take lots of pictures of the stunning scenery. If you have a lens that can zoom in from afar, even better because you will have plenty of wildlife photo opportunities.
Overall, I absolutely loved the 26 Glaciers Tour and I would definitely do it again! If you are looking for an adventure and want to see some of the most beautiful glaciers in Alaska, this tour is definitely a great option. I hope this 26 Glacier Cruise in Whittier, Alaska review was helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below.
About the Author
Text and images are by Cami of Travel Cami (excluding the featured image)
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