Originally Posted by You
We fly into Anchorage and the cruise leaves from Whittier. How long does it take to get to Whittier? Are there multiple trips daily? How much does it cost? Do we need to get to Anchorage a day ahead of our cruise departure? And does one have to book the glacial tours ahead?
The most seamless way to get from Anchorage to Whittier is to book transfers through your cruise line.
>> If you arrive on embarkation day, representatives from the cruise line will greet you in the baggage claim area (domestic flights) or just outside the customs area (international flights) to direct you to the transfer motorcoach or train.
>> If you wish to arrive a day early, you can book a hotel package through the cruise line. On most cruise lines, the hotel package includes the transfer from your hotel to the pier. The cruise line's representatives at a hospitality desk in the hotel lobby will tell you where and when to meet for the transfer.
And yes, I did mention a train as a transfer option. The Alaska Railroad operates a rail transfer service between a brand new rail station connected to the main passenger terminal at Anchorage International Airport and the pier in Whittier or Seward. To use this rail transfer service, you must purchase the rail transfer (rather than the motorcoach transfer) through your cruise line. The railcars have more comfortable seats than the motorcoach, you can get up and move around, and they offer food and beverage service en route.
If you wish to transfer on your own, the Alaska Railroad offers daily service between Anchorage and Whittier but you will have to get the main railroad station in downtown Anchorage on your own (most likely by taxi from either the airport or your hotel) and you also will have to get from the depot in Seward to the pier on your own (probably walkable, but you might not want to walk it with all of your luggage).
IIRC, the transfer between Anchorage and Whittier takes about two hours, either by rail or by motorcoach.
You can fly into Anchorage International Airport on embarkation day, provided that your flight arrives early enough in the day. If you decide to use the cruie line's transfers, have your travel agent call your cruise line to get the requirements for time of arrival for the cruise line's transfers. If you decide to transfer on your own, you'll need to reserve your seats on the train in advance and book a flight that arrives at least two hours before the train's departure.
That said, I highly recommend going to Anchorage a couple days in advance and booking a hotel for two or three nights through your cruise line. Anchorage is a fascinating city with a wonderful downtown loaded with points of interest, unusual shopping, outstanding restaurants, and weekend events including an open air market and a variety of street festivals throughout the summer. There are also several attractions that are easy day trips from Anchorage including the Mount Alyeska Resort and the scenic overlook at Talkeetna, which offers spectacular views of Mount McKinley if you pick a clear day. If you take the trip to Talkeetna, the Latitude 62 Inn, just beyond the overlook, is a great place to stop for lunch.