Whittier has more use as a staging ground for getting out on Prince William Sound. The town itself is rather industrial. There is a cruise-ship terminal, where you can pick up a guidebook. There are a few restrooms around the small boat harbor.
is the main residence in town and is what you'd expect of a 1940's military structure, including dark, narrow halls. Although you obviously cannot enter residents' apartments, anyone can go inside the building: Everything in town is located there, including the grocery store on the first floor and a medical clinic on the third. This is an unusual setup, even for quirky Alaska.
About 30 charter fishing boats operate out of Whittier. The Whittier Harbormaster keeps a list (call 907-472-2337). You can arrange to have your catch shipped home.
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. The small museum shares space with the Anchor Inn.Head off in search of glaciers.
Phillips' Cruises and Tours (800-544-0529) offers a 4.5-hour, 26-glacier cruise of the Sound on a fast, three-deck catamaran, counting the glaciers as they go. Major Marine Tours (800-764-7300) operates a smaller, 149-passenger vessel that visits 10 glaciers and puts an emphasis on food (for an extra fee) with an all-you-can-eat salmon and prime rib buffet.
See a whale.
Sound Eco Adventures (888-471-2312) features a retired wildlife biologist who specializes in whale-watching tours.
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 of History and Fine Art at 7th and A streets at 9:45 a.m. daily, May through September; the trip takes about 90 minutes, includes narration and picture stops, and drops at Princess dock at noon. For reservations, call 800-208-0200. You can also get there by train: Call the Alaska Railroad at 800-544-0552; the trip takes about 2.5 hours.
Once in town, there is no need for taxis or shuttles -- everything in town is within walking distance.
Head to the waterfront to dine at one of the few restaurants. There's a good Chinese place, the Korean-owned China Sea (907-472-2222), which features specials like Kung Pao halibut.
Lazy Otter Cafe & Gifts (907-472-3000) is the place for espresso, breakfast, lunch and ice cream.
Where You're Docked
The new 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.
Watch Out For
It rains a lot in Whittier; bring your rain jacket. Most goods and foodstuffs are flown or shipped into Alaska, so prices are bound to be higher than average.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Currency is the U.S. dollar. We advise getting your cash onboard -- there are no ATM's nearby.
English is spoken there.
Shopping isn't a draw in Whittier. Perhaps the best souvenir is catching a huge sockeye salmon to ship home or, if you're lucky, catching video of Blackstone Glacier calving in Prince William Sound.
For More Information
Visit the Official Web site of the City of Whittier, www.ci.whitter.ak.us
Visit the Whittier Chamber of Commerce Web site at www.whittieralaska.com
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--By Fran Golden; updated by Jodi Thompson, Cruise Critic contributors
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