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Posted on Monday, May 25th, 2015

Dave!Alrighty then.

My Memorial Day was spent taking the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Whittier so I could take a glacier cruise. Something I've already done before in Glacier Bay, but that was on a cruise ship. This time I'd be on a smaller boat which can get closer to the action.

The train ride was fairly uneventful... except there were loads of noisy, obnoxious people on it, so it wasn't quite the experience I was hoping for...

Train from Anchorage to Whittier

My cruise included a vegetarian option lunch, but I've gone down this road too many times to think it's going to be something I actually want to eat. Fortunately, the train had a really good cheese pizza onboard, so I went for it as a precaution...

Train Pizza

In order to not lose my sanity from having to endure screaming kids and people in general, I mostly hung out in the gap between cars where I could take photos without any glass to obscure the scenery.

And it's some pretty nice scenery. Mud flats, forests, mountain views... it's all going on...

Alaska Railroad Journey

Alaska Railroad Journey

Alaska Railroad Journey

Just before you arrive in Whittier, you go through a couple of tunnels, the second of which is the longest railroad tunnel in North America. It has a set schedule for train and car traffic that switched direction every half-hour. The second tunnel is so long that takes about 5 minutes to get through... but when you look out the side of the train it seems much shorter because you can always see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's because it's dug so straight that there's never any obstruction...

Whittier Tunnel

Arriving in the city of Whittier, there was no time to waste. The boat was already mostly loaded by people who drove a car instead of taking the train (which is slower)...


We were definitely not the biggest boat on the water. Princess Cruises has spent millions creating a port in Whittier from which their ships can explore Alaska...

Princess Cruises Whittier

As expected, the lunch was not my cup of tea. For one thing, it had mushrooms on it, of which I am allergic. And since I'm not a coleslaw person, that was also off the menu. The pudding wasn't chocolate, as one would hope, but instead some kind of runny rice pudding...

Boat Lunch

Fairly quickly we ran across some porpoises (or dolphins, I'm not sure which) swimming at the bow...


Not quite as exciting as my dolphin experience in Fiji, but pretty cool just the same.

Next up was a whale playing around on the shore line...


And just when you think you've seen the last of cool wildlife for the day, some bumps in the water appear...

Otter Bumps




But what we're really here for is the glaciers, so Captain Carl wasted no time rolling right up to one...

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Being Memorial Day, the boat was at capacity, but it was never a problem. People were pretty good about taking turns getting their photos, and Captain Carl made slow sweeping turns at all the stops so everybody on both sides of the boat could take a look...

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

I never once had trouble getting to the rail to get some terrific glacier photos, which was nice...

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

All in all, the cruise I took advertised "26 glaciers in one day"... but most of them must have been off in the distance, because I only recall seeing about a dozen of them.

I could bore you with the hundreds of glacier shots I got, but they all start to look the same after a while so I'll spare you. Suffice to say I had a great time getting lots of beautiful photos.

You end the glacial tour with a stop at a trio of glaciers in one shot...

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

The trip back was pretty good too, because the scenery is so great. Waterfalls are everywhere...

GPrince William Sound Waterfall

And, if you look at the bottom of that photo, you'll see I got more than just a waterfall in the shot...

Mountain Goat of Alaska

Just chillin' for a bit. Thank heavens I bought my massively expensive zoom lens!

The weird thing about Prince William Sound is how the weather changes -literally- minute to minute. You can go from overcast and dreary to sunshine and vivd in the blink of an eye...

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Captain Carl had one last surprise before pulling back into Whittier...

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound

Is that spotty rocks, or...

Glacier Cruise Alaska Prince William Sound


Glacier Cruise Alaska Birds

Thousands of them.

And that was that. The boat docked at Whittier and my cruise was over. I had a few minutes before I had to board the return-train, so I walked through the town for a bit. Not a lot to see, but it's a beautiful place...

Whittier, Alaska

For the train ride home, the less expensive "B Car" was almost completely empty, so I gladly gave up my pricey dome car seat for some peace and quiet in the cheap seats. Usually, I would expect beautiful sunset views this time of day. But since the sun doesn't start setting here until 11:30, I had the same trip back that I had coming...

Mud Flats Anchorage

And that's a wrap.

Not a bad way to spend Memorial Day, I must say.

Hats off to Captain Carl and the crew of Klondike Express for a great five-hour tour! If you'd like to take your own "26 Glacier Tour" from Phillips Cruises, you can get more information here.

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Categories: Photography 2015, Travel 2015Click To It: Permalink


  1. Sarah says:

    Wow, those pictures are amazing! That looks like a wonderful experience, sans the screaming children.

  2. flufficat says:

    Those glaciers look so unreal, all those colors of blue. Very cool.

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