Anchorage Whittier, Alaska

Location:

The cruise ships dock at this tiny hamlet Whittier, most passengers taking a cruise organized excursion to Anchorage.

The cruise terminal is 60 miles from Anchorage, you can take a bus or train from and to the terminal. Either way you pass the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel: shared by rail and vehicle traffic, when one is inside the other is not; they switch every half hour.

Sightseeing:

Only 60 miles from Anchorage, Whittier beckons with all the beauty of Prince William Sound, a place where you learn the real meaning of the word “fjord”. The Sound is made up of many deep fjords with tidewater glaciers that calve before your eyes, and islands around every turn.

Whittier is also surrounded by the Chugach National Forest, the second largest in the United States and a vast wilderness.

Visit Whittier and see wildlife, beach comb and pick berries while walking along the harbor or hiking the Portage Pass, Salmon Run or Horse Tail Falls trails.

Whittier is a strange little port town built by the military during World War II that is reached only by boat or through a one-lane tunnel almost 3 miles long.

Whittier has about 180 residents, pretty much all living in the same apartment complex.

Nearby Places:

Of all the world’s cities, Anchorage uniquely combines the conveniences of the modern world with a rugged, natural environment that has all but vanished from populated regions of the world. In Anchorage, you can watch moose in the morning and ballet in the afternoon. You can take a short flight to see some mountain scenery on earth, then be back for fresh seafood at a five-star restaurant.

Anchorage is an urban enclave surrounded by wilderness. Within a few miles of downtown, you can encounter scenes more wild than you’ll find in most national parks: wolf packs roaming through a park, rushing mountain streams, and city parks vast enough to forget which century you live in. The world’s second highest tides surge against its shores, and North America’s highest peak glimmers in the distance.

Most of all, Anchorage is a gateway to adventure. You can experience all Alaska has to offer and never check out of your hotel. Flightsee over Mt. McKinley, fish a wilderness river, or visit grizzly bears via air taxi. See calving glaciers and enormous whales on a day cruise. Hike to a glacier, climb a mountaintop, or drive some of the world’s most spectacular highways.

Currency:

The official U.S. currency is the United States dollar (symbol: $). ATM’s everywhere.

Major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are widely used and accepted, even for transactions worth only a few dollars. In fact, in some cases, it may be the only way to make a transaction. Note to overseas visitors: Prices of goods and services always seem lower than they really are, as taxes and gratuities are seldom included.

Most states have a sales tax, ranging from 2.9% to nearly 10% of the retail price; 4-6% is typical. Sales tax is almost never included in posted prices (except for gasoline, and in most states, alcoholic beverages consumed on-premises), but instead will be calculated and added to the total when you pay.

Tipping in America is widely used and expected. While Americans themselves often debate correct levels and exactly who deserves to be tipped, generally accepted standard rates are:

  • Full-service restaurants: 15-20% (Often this is the only income of the wait(ress). Tips are either left in cash or you can add it to the credit card slip) Note: Few restaurants add an automatic service charge, in which case it is up to you how much you tip extra. Check your bill!
  • Taxi drivers, hairdressers, other personal services: 10-15%
  • Bartenders: $1 per drink if inexpensive or 15% of total
  • Bellhops: $1-2 per bag ($3-5 minimum regardless)
  • Hotel doorman: $1 per bag (if they assist), $1 for calling a cab
  • Shuttle bus drivers: $2-5 (optional)
  • Private car & limousine drivers: 15-20%
  • Housekeeping in hotels: $1-2 per day for long stays or $5 minimum for very short stays (optional)
  • Food delivery (pizza, etc.): $2-5, possibly more for very large orders

Communication:

Emergency 911

Opening Hours and Holidays:

In major metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles, many drugstores and supermarkets are routinely open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, while department stores, shopping centers and most other large retailers are typically open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and often with shorter hours on Sundays – generally 11 a.m. or noon to 5 or 6 p.m. On holidays, the tendency is to remain open (with the exception of the most important holidays like Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day where stores are generally closed)

  • New Years Day (January 1) – most businesses closed; hangovers from parties the previous night, football parties. Primarily a secular holiday, and the major celebration occurs the previous night.
  • Martin Luther King Day (third Monday in January) – many government offices and banks closed; diversity-awareness programs.
  • St. Valentine’s Day (February 14) – no significant closures; romantic evenings out.
  • Presidents Day (third Monday in February) – (also Washington’s Birthday) – many government offices and banks closed; few observances, many stores have sales.
  • St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) – no significant closures; Irish-themed parades during the day, and parties in the evening. Travelers may want to be wary of the drunken revelry and associated drunk driving crackdowns.
  • Easter (a Sunday in March or April) – few significant closures; Christian religious observances.
  • Passover (timing somewhat similar to Easter; lasts a week) – Jewish religious observances.
  • Memorial Day (last Monday in May) – most non-retail/tourism businesses closed; some patriotic observances; extensive travel to beaches and parks; traditional beginning of summer tourism season.
  • Independence Day / Fourth of July (July 4) – most businesses closed; patriotic parades, fireworks after dark.
  • Labor Day (first Monday in September) – most businesses closed; extensive travel to beaches and parks; traditional ending of summer tourism season.
  • Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – Jewish religious autumn holidays.
  • Columbus Day (second Monday in October) – many government offices and banks closed; few observances.
  • Halloween (October 31) – no significant closures – trick-or-treating and costume parties in the evening.
  • Veterans Day (November 11) – many government offices and banks closed; some patriotic observances.
  • Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November, unofficially the Friday and weekend after) – most non-retail businesses closed; family gatherings, on Friday major Christmas shopping begins.
  • Christmas (December 25) – most businesses and restaurants closed the evening before and all day; exchanging gifts, Christian religious observances. If you need food from a restaurant, your best bet will be hotels and Chinese or Indian restaurants. People from non-Christian religions often go to the movies and eat at Chinese restaurants on Christmas.
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Place Categories: Cruise Ports

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