Twenty Six Glacier Cruise
This is the most luxurious day cruise we have found so far. The three deck catamaran is built for speed and comfort. And since the distance the boat travels is great, the tour requires speed to make the destinations in one day. Bottom line...hold onto your hats! We saw three people lose theirs when stepping out onto the decks. Despite the speed, the tour guarantees no seasickness, or your money back. The boat is so big and runs so smooth on the protected waters that it is unlikely one would feel any wave action.
When adventurers ask, “will we see whales on this tour?” the response from the crew is, “we guarantee you will see glaciers.” They call it the Twenty Six Glacier Cruise because this is the number the tour can guarantee on cloudy days. On beautiful bright sunny days there are many many more. Claimjumper and I decided we would demand our money back if we did not see 26 glaciers. We gave up counting after seeing the 30th glacier. And there were so many small unnamed glaciers that there is now an Adventureman Glacier and a Claimjumper Glacier. Now you will not find them listed on any maps, but we are working on that. They tell us that Japanese people find glacial ice chips in their drinks a delicacy. Well, then plan on being treated like royalty on this trip because the ice chips on this cruise are "all you can eat."
To find this cruise you must go to Whittier, Alaska. As of 1999 there was no way to drive to Whittier. The best one could do would be to drive to a train station near Portage, and then load the car onto the train. In the summer of 2000 the Alaska Department of Transportation finished the Whittier tunnel. What this meant was to place a drivable surface on the railway that runs underneath Maynard Mountain. To find the tunnel, drive South from Anchorage, and turn left on Portage Glacier Road When Portage Glacier road forks, head left through the first short tunnel. The Whittier tunnel is a toll tunnel. They let people use the tunnel for free during the summer of 2000, but intend to begin charging in 2001. Also, the tunnel is one way. So cars stage on both sides, waiting for the controller to allow them through. Prices and the schedule are to be posted at http://www.dot.state.ak.us/ . Be sure to give yourself time to make the tunnel passage.
When you arrive in Whittier you will be in one of the smallest town in the U.S. As the area of Whittier is limited by steep mountains and Passage Canal, there is not much land available for building. So all of the residents of Whittier live in two large apartment type buildings. Parking is also in rather short supply, but the Cruise has a section reserved for it. After crossing the bridge over Whittier Creek, turn right onto Whittier street. On the right side of Whittier Street shortly after the turnoff there will be a parking lot for 26 Glacier Cruise passengers on the right. A shuttle will come by to pick up passengers and deliver them to the dock where the Klondike Express awaits. Or, if you have time, like we did, before the cruise leaves, take that time to walk to the boat. There are a number of small shops where you can pick up a role of film if you need to, maps, souvenirs and such.
If you prefer to take the Alaska Railroad, there is service between Anchorage and Whittier. Click here for information on rail service on the Alaska Railroad.
The Klondike Express has three decks. The bottom deck has a large cabin area, the galley, restrooms and a small gift shop. The middle deck has a smaller cabin area, a few more restrooms and a viewing deck in the rear. The top deck is completely open air. The cruise costs $119 per person and includes lunch. The cruise is limited to the summer season and runs from early to mid May until the end near the end of September. Advance reservations are necessary as this cruise is often filled to capacity. For information and reservation contact numbers, click here.
The catamaran flies through the water at 40 knots (48 m.p.h.). Waterfalls cascaded down mountainsides from glaciers melting on the tops. We pulled in close to several tidewater glaciers and watched them calving off huge chunks of ice. Thousands of seals were sunning themselves on the icebergs in front of the larger glaciers. They are protected here from Orcas (Killer Whales) that cannot navigate through waters filled with icebergs. We also passed rafts of sea otters and had some great opportunities to photograph them. As we toured along the 135 mile trip, the guide talked about the history, biota and geology of the northwest portion of Prince William Sound.
And of course we made some new friends! John and Anne were kind enough to allow us to photograph them on adventure. This lovely couple had come up from Alabama and were taking this trip to celebrate their 30 year anniversary. Talk about Romancing Alaska!
Click here for contact information on the Twenty Six Glacier Cruise.
Last visited: August 2000