Whittier to Seward or Whittier to Anchorage

Dec 4th, 2008, 10:08 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2004
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Whittier to Seward or Whittier to Anchorage

Our cruise ship takes us to Whittier on a Saturday morning. Should we head to Anchorage (on the train) to pick up a rental car there and then double back on Sunday to see a bit of Seward and a bit more of the Kenai peninsula?

Or should we arrange for transportation from Whittier to Seward and then rent a car there for Sunday’s touring.

I hear that lots of people head to the Kenai peninsula on the weekends, so another thought might be to stay in Anchorage on Sunday and head to the peninsula on Monday instead.

Any thoughts on what might make the most efficient use of time and money?

Thank you!

(Note: I have a wordier message posted on cruise critic which covers this and other topics. I am chopping it up for posting here and adding a few other questions.)

Sapphire is offline  
Dec 4th, 2008, 10:41 AM
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Based on previous posts about car rentals I think it would be easier for you to go to Anchorage for your rental car since I assume you will be flying out from there later. There is no airport in Seward bu there is a small airport on the other side of the peninsula in Kenai, also Homer but that isn't much help. The commuter flight from ANC is short and not scenic.
On Saturday you would probably arrive in Anchorage in time to visit the public market. You'll also find more restaurant choices. You won't mind driving back down the Seward Hwy since that's a very beautiful drive. Anchorage to Seward is about 2 1/2 hours, longer if you do stops like the Alyeska tram and photo ops. I think there is a lot of locals traveling that route since for KP residents the shopping is better in Anchorage and for fishermen, the KP is pretty popular. Travel is noticeably heavier when the salmon are running. You'll see a lot of cars near the Russian River Ferry if you head to Kenai/Soldotna but depending on where you are from, the traffic won't be as heavy as weekends in a lot of lower 48 places. Depending on how much more time you expect to stay in Alaska after your cruise, I would suggest heading north to visit Independence Mine before heading south to the KP. Even though you have been on a cruise, please consider taking a Kenai Fjords cruise to see whales and glaciers. Being in a small boat and closer is fantastic.
dfnh is offline  
Dec 4th, 2008, 11:41 AM
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Thank you for the very helpful response. It seemed counter-intuitive at first to head to Anchorage and then back to the peninsula.

I am hoping to take a PWS boat tour with our group of 3 couples before heading to Anchorage, but ruled out the Kenai Fjords cruise because one of our party has trouble with motion sickness and would probably be miserable or on his own for many hours.

If the rest of our group wants to go to Fairbanks and skip the Kenai peninsula, my husband and I may head back after going to Denali with them and add enough time to actually get to Homer. Or plan another trip to Alaska

Thanks again!

Sapphire is offline  
Dec 4th, 2008, 12:48 PM
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You might as well get a head start and begin planning your next Alaska trip. It's a big state and there seems to be plenty to see and do.
rm_mn is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 02:19 AM
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Have your group look at a Milepost. There is more to see and do south of Anchorage than north to Denali. Talkeetna is a great stop but in between you will not find restaurants, shops etc. We thought the drive was boring even though we lucked out and could see McKinley even at 1AM when we overnighted near Talkeetna. The drive south is spectacular. If you are trying to see and do a lot in a limited time, the KP has more to offer. Standard advice when you head north is to get anything you need in Wasilla (which is a pretty big town) because after that it's a long stretch until you get to Talkeetna. My husband was worried about sea sickness after a bad episode deep sea fishing at home. We lucked out on a very calm day so he didn't have any problem at all on the Kenai cruise. The captain was also able to take us into a very narrow spot which she said could only be done a couple of days each summer. But I understand the typically a lot get seasick. If you decide to make the seasick person spend time on their own, Whittier is a very small town, a former secret military base accessed by a toll tunnel thru the mountain, whereas Seward is a lot nicer with more to do and other places to visit within an hour's drive.
Best wishes for a great trip.
dfnh is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 03:33 AM
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We didn't have any problems on our trip.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 03:36 AM
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We didn't have any problems on tour of Kenai. I didn't see anyone on the boat having any problems. We chose to go with Renown, because their boat is a catameran type and is smoother and faster, so less sickness. Very rewarding.

The train was very scenic and a highlight of our trip from Seward to Anchorage.

If you go the car rental route, there is several things in Girdwood/Alyeska that we enjoyed.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 06:47 AM
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I have taken Kenai Fjords boat tours many times, over 12. And always have seen sick passengers. You do have to consider it, despite the rare reports of smooth sailing, just isn't typical. You also need to only consider trips of at least 6 hours on the water. The shorter ones aren't even worth it.

How much time are you looking at?? It is hard to make any recommendations without your days and IF you do want to get to Homer and Fairbanks?? Overall with that list, you ideally need about 10 days.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 07:55 AM
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The idea is foregoing any time on the Kenai P. for Squarebanks is kind of silly, akin to skipping San Francisco to see Sacramento.

If you're in AK for a few weeks, it might be worth it, but too often there's too much time devoted to this town by too many folks. Great museum at UAF but a lot of the other stuff is either hokey or geared toward the sedentary. So many better places to enjoy AK.
repete is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 04:44 AM
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With three couples planning this trip together, it is slowly taking shape. We will have 7-8 days to do a land tour and will be renting a car in Anchorage and flying home from there, so Fairbanks is definitely out.

Tentative plans are to go to Anchorage Saturday night after taking a PWS boat tour. Then either head to the Denali area, staying there 2-3 nights (Su,M, perhaps T). We know that we want to spend 2 nights in Healy but not sure whether to try to spend a night in Talkeetna or thereabouts.... (No one is planning to take a flight from there.)

That would leave us 2-3 nights for the Kenai peninsula area (T? W, Th, Th or F) with a stay in Anchorage our last night (S) before catching an early morning flight home. One advantage of this itinerary is that we would avoid being in the Kenai area on a weekend.

We could spend another night in Anchorage on our way back to the Kenai area (instead of spending a 3rd night in Denali area). Or we could use the "extra" night another way.

It sounds like experienced travelers would recommend trying to spend 3 nights in the Kenai area if we have the time. Is that right? Any other suggestions, given our time frame?

Many thanks for your help!
Sapphire is offline  
Dec 14th, 2008, 08:02 AM
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You do need a night somewhere, between Denali park and Seward. If you are doing some touring already in Anchorage Talkeetna may be a good choice?? Anchorage certainly has more to do, www.anchorage.net

Your basic plan is good. Do some more homework and fine tune your desired activities, then stay near those.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Feb 20th, 2009, 04:00 PM
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myr is offline  

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