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Whittier Basics

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Fast Facts: Whittier

Whittier is located at the head of Passage Canal, which is part of the Prince William Sound. It sits 62 road miles from Anchorage and was originally established as a military supply port during WWII. It is now a focal point for fishing and freight transport. The arrival of cruise lines has added tourism to Whittier's commerce as it is used as a departure port. Whittier's main claim to fame is the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, a 2.5 mile access tunnel that combines alternate one-way vehicle and rail traffic and is longest tunnel through a mountain in North America.

As of the 2000 census, there were only 182 people who lived in Whittier. Most of the population lives in Begich Towers, a former officers' quarters that is now a condominium. The population of the town swells during the summer, when cruise ships and recreational activities generate seasonal jobs. The city, school, local services and summer tourism support Whittier.

Whittier's climate is famous for being wet and wild. In fact, the location was selected by the U.S. military because the cloud and fog cover would protect the port from Japanese bombing during World War II. Wind, rain, and heavy snowfall are common. The average annual precipitation is 196 inches (16 ft). Average annual snowfall is 241 inches (20 ft). The waters of Passage Canal, however, remain ice-free year-round.

Whittier map


First Impressions


Otters

Whittier is one of the oddest cruise ports in the world. With a year-round population of just 200 people--most of whom live in the 15 story Begich Towers building--the city serves its purpose as an alternative port to Seward for passengers embarking or debarking for Anchorage. It's wet here, and most of the time it's cloudy and fog-covered. The infrastructure of the city was built in the 1940s and 1950s, when it was an army base, and served as the gateway for soldiers coming to Alaska from the lower 48.

Your ship will make port at the Whittier cruise ship dock, located at the southern end of the town.

The Alaska Railroad has a spur line that connects Whittier to Portage, and then onward to Anchorage. To get to Portage, the rail line passes through two tunnels, which are considered a minor engineering feat. Taking the railroad is a great way to see some of the scenic beauty of Alaska as you make your way to Anchorage.

The summer is the nicest time of the year in Whittier; it only gets, on average, 10 inches of rain per month, the average daily high is in the low-60s (F), and the sun rises above the mountain that sits in back of the town.


Time Zone


Whittier is on Alaska Time, nine hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during standard time, or eight hours during daylight savings time. Daylight savings time begins on the second Sunday of March, and ends on the first Sunday of November.

USA flag Whittier Local Time
 


Language


English is universally spoken in Whittier.


Dealing with Money in Whittier


Currency



Dollar bill

The currency of the United States is the U.S. dollar, and it is printed on bills in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins include the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, fifty cent piece and dollar.

Canadian dollars are accepted in Alaska as well. You'll also find Canadian coins circulating freely in the state, and are accepted at par to their U.S. counterparts.

Banks and ATMs

Whittier is a small place, so you'll find just a handful of ATM machines in the town:

  • Mary's Alaska Closet: located at 100 Kenai Street.

  • JM Laundromat: across the street from Mary's Alaska Closet, on Kenai Street.

  • Anchor Inn: located at 100 Whittier Street, across from the dock.

  • Whittier Harbor Store: located at Lot 8, Small Boat Harbor.

Whittier ATM Map


Map icon

To see the locations of Whittier's ATMs, see our Whittier ATM map.


Weather


Whittier Harbor

Whittier's climate is famous for being wet and wild. In fact, the location was selected by the U.S. military because the cloud and fog cover would protect the port from Japanese bombing during World War II. Wind, rain, and heavy snowfall are common. The average annual precipitation is 196 inches (16 ft). Average annual snowfall is 241 inches (20 ft). The waters of Passage Canal, however, remain ice-free year-round.

Winds in Passage Canal are strong and variable. Mean hourly wind speed is 10 to 15 mph, but winds are commonly 40 to 60 mph in the area. The strongest winds blow east and west along the axis of Passage Canal and may generate waves of between 4 and 6 feet in the center of Passage Canal.

June and July are the driest months of the year, with average rainfall around 10 inches. Daytime highs in the summer barely break the 60° F (17° C) mark, while the lows are a balmy 50° F (10° C).

Average Temperatures

Average Precipitation



Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in Whittier

Cyber cafes are unavailable in Whittier.

Free Wi-Fi access is available at Major Marine Tour's Harborside offices.

Cellular Phone & Data Services


Customers of U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Whittier:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service provides extended digital coverage to Whittier and the surrounding areas.
Data services: Verizon offers extended 3G coverage to Whittier and the surrounding areas.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services coverage in Whittier.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service covers Whittier and the surrounding area.
Data services: AT&T offers 2G services covering Whittier and much of the surrounding area.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage in Whittier.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service covers Whittier; the remaining areas use an off network roaming provider.
Data services: Sprint's 3G service covers Whittier; the remaining areas use an off network roaming provider.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage in Whittier.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service in Whittier is provided through a service partner.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service in Whittier through its partner; there's no access for laptop sticks, tablets, notebooks etc.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services coverage in Whittier.


Internet Cafe

Whittier Telephone Information

Canadian cell phones used in the U.S. work seamlessly in Alaska, and just like back home.

The Country Code in the U.S. is 1, just like in Canada.

The Area Code used in Whittier (as in all of Alaska) is 907.

Local Phone Numbers have seven digits: XXX-XXXX

Woman with a cell phone

Local Events, Holidays & Festivals


Local festivals, holidays and events taking place in Whittier in 2018:

  • New Year's Day, Monday, January 1.

  • Seward's Day, Monday, March 26. Commemorates the signing of the treaty by which the United States bought Alaska from Russia on March 30, 1867.

  • Good Friday, Friday, March 30.

  • Easter, Sunday, April 1.

  • Halibut Derby, Tuesday, May 1 through Friday, September 14. One of three fish derbies the Greater Whittier Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring this summer.

  • Independence Day, Wednesday, July 4. Celebrations include a parade, barbeque, activities for kids and a car show.

  • Silver Salmon Derby, Sunday, July 1 to Monday, September 3. A jackpot for the heaviest fish will be awarded at the end of the season.

  • "Small Fry" Silver Salmon Derby, Sunday, July 1 to Monday, September 3. A salmon derby for the kids.

  • Alaska Day, Thursday, October 18. Anniversary of the formal transfer of the Territory and the raising of the U.S. flag at Sitka in 1867.

  • Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22. A day to give thanks for the things one has at the close of the harvest season.

  • Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25. The second most important Christian holiday, after Easter.

Cruise Port Schedules


Princess in Whittier

Whittier is the Anchorage embarkation/disembarkation port for Princess Cruises and Crystal Cuises. In 2018, the port will be visited by the Golden Princess, the Coral Princess, the Island Princess and the Star Princess, as well as the Crystal Symphony.

In 2018, Whittier is slated to host 84,200 cruise ship passengers sailing on 38 ships. For further information, see our Whittier Cruise Ship Schedule - 2018.

As a rule, Princess' ships arrive at the cruise ship dock in Whittier around 12:30 am, and depart at 8:30 pm.


Cruise Lines Making Port


The following cruise lines will make port in Whittier in 2018:

princess icon Princess Cruises Crystal icon Crystal Cruises
Cruise Ship


       
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