If we take the cruise train to either Seward (HAL) or Whittier (Princess), what time does the train leave Anchorage and what time does it arive at its destination? If we get the transfer from Anchorage to the ship, how is luggage handled? Do we check it in at Eagan Center and never see it again until it is delivered to our stateroom? Also, how does the embarkation process work? Is everything done in Anchorage prior to boarding the train or do you have to go through some or all of the embarkation proceedures once you reach the ship? I'm thinking that if we arrive at the same time as hundreds of other passengers, the embarkation process could take quite a while if we can't do it in Anchorage. Also, if we take the train on our own (the public schedule, not the cruise train) what time will we be allowed to board?.
Good questions - I would be interested to know, too. I was told boarding will start about 11:30 or so, but that has not been confirmed.
We are sailing out of Whittier, but obvious will arrive in Anchorage the day before - maybe 2 days before depending on if we want to do anyything in Anchorage. I doubt we have time on the day we leave to get to Whittier.
We currently have paid for transfers to Whittier with Princess - is this a good idea? Is there a better way?
If you go with the cruise transfers, the buses leave continously as they fill starting about 8-9am. The cruise train has in the past left around 11am taking 4 hours to Seward. Only 1 train, plus the ARR train that leaves around 7am. Egan center is downtown Anchorage and the point of cruiseline transfers. Going on the ARR your bags go into the baggage cars. But with either bus or train, I would definately want to verify my bags made it to the destination and therefore would check to make sure they were there. If taking the regular run of the ARR- you are there shortly after 11am, usually too early for embarkment. You need a cab from the depot about $5++. You can drop off your bags - properly tagged and then leave for Seward touring.
Last year the Princess transfer buses leaving from Anchorage to Seward (Whittier this year) did not start leaving until 1pm UNLESS you were on a cruisetour, they leave earlier around 10:30am. There are plenty of tables & chairs at the convention centre but most ppl left their carry on luggage and went shopping/sightseeing until the buses or trains were ready to go. The bus that took ppl to the train station left about 12:30pm and train left approx. 1pm, this is the transfer train.
I think all the luggage from the convention centre is put into trucks and sent straight down to the ship so once you arrive at the convention centre you hand over your bags and the next time you see them should be in your cabin.
When we arrived at the port there where many buses unloading but check in and boarding was fairly quick... about 30 minutes all up BUT it was about 5pm by the time we got to our cabin!!
If I were to do it over again I would opt to go on the very early train which you would need to book yourself ie. not the transfer train!, and spend some time looking around Seward or in Whittier, just wait until it was time to board and spend the extra time checking out the ship and having lunch. I found the morning in Anchorage and then the afternoon on the bus a waste of my time... I would rather get there as early as possible and spend the time on board.... my opinion only!