Glacier cruise from Whittier Alaska: can't choose between 2 options

Discussion in 'Nature' started by the crazy biochemist, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. I am planning to take a glacier cruise out of Whittier early
    September. I can't make up my mind between the Phillips 26 glacier
    cruise and Major Marines cruise. The first one costs more but you
    get to see more glacier. The second costs less and there are less
    glaciers. The duration of each cruise is about the same.
    Can anybody help me decide?
  2. Philips 26 is soposed to be awsome! Why not try that one? If you get a chance get some photos from the sky as they are some of the most pleasing. I did this over grenland and it was amazing! All the best.
  3. Cannot make an informed comparison, as I have not taken Major Marine, BUT did take the Phillips catamaran cruise in 1998, and was totally impressed. As their advertisement says, you spend more time at glacier's edge, as opposed to travel time to and from. This is because their boat is a catamaran design which travels faster. Being water level and as close as safety permits to the edge of a calving glacier is one of the most memorable experiences in my half century + lifetime. ENJOY
  4. Phillips' Klondike Express is a very large very fast boat. They do go up College Fjord most times which has been referred to as the Glacier Bay of Prince William Sound. However, I think most of the time they are unable to make it up to the faces of Harvard and Yale Glaciers. They'll then probably spend the majority of their time in Barry Arm and Harriman Fjord.

    The Major Marine boat is very slow and takes you out to Blackstone or Beloit Glacier which is very close to Whittier but a pretty neat area.

    I believe that Prince William Sound Cruises and Tours still operates their 6.5 hour Wilderness Explorer trip then which will travel to Barry Arm and Harriman Fjord as well as taking you through Esther passage (which is an amazingly narrow channel of water through 2000 ft. tall landmasses).

    Though Whittier isn't exactly the best spot for whales, you will have a much better chance to see one on either the Phillips Cruise or the Wilderness Explorer than you would if you went with Major Marine.
  5. In my honest opinion Whittier is not where I'd want to take a glacier cruise. The town is ugly and the weather in Whittier is always worse than everywhere else. I live just north of Anchorage and in my time in Alaska I would recommend you going to Seward for your cruise. It is a beautiful little town very pretty right on the Bay. There is much much more to see and do in Seward. Sure it's a little further from anchorage...120 miles but the beautiful drive alone is worth it. If you go, use Kenai fjords tours. Have fun in AK
  6. Image from Moose Pass, outside of Seward
  7. Thanks for the replies. Edward, I plan to go to Seward right after the cruise from Whittier, and am thinking to take another cruise from there- either Resurrection bay or full day- focusing on spotting marine wild life.
    But as far as glacier sightseeing is concerned- wouldn't Prince William Sound be a better option than Kenai, since in the latter you get to see only one glacier up close and on a potentially rough sea which could lead to cancellation of the cruise ?
  8. The quality of the TOWNS has nothing to do with your question. IN MY OPINION, based on 40 years of residency and 35 years of nature photography, the College Fiord area in PWS even can be better than Glacier Bay N.P. The Kenai Fiords tour out of Seward is a great trip but very different than Phillips'in PWS. You are spending a lot of money to get both. At that time of year you might even get in on late season "specials."

  9. OK I tend to book the Phillips cruise because of College Fjord. What about weather? Can it be foggy enough that you can't see the glaciers (and waste your money...) In all the cruise brochures they show you pics taken on a bright sunny day. But what is it really like there?

    And now to the Kenai cruise? What's the chance of spotting whales in Resurrection Bay vs. the longer full day cruise into the N.P. ??
  10. Only do the full day tour into Kenai Fjords. The chances of seeing whales on the full day tour is in excess of 90% - I can't remember the last time I went and didn't see whales. I believe it only happens when the weather is bad and visibility poor. Yesterday for example I saw orcas, humpbacks and fin whales. The full day tour will take you to one of two glaciers in Aialik Bay, both have been extremely active this summer.

    I would also do the PWS trip. It is interesting to read Tom's comments as I have always said College Fjords is more impressive then Glacier Bay. For photography, I personally prefer the small boats over the 300+ passenger vessels like Phillips'. They may be slower, but it is much easier to get railing space when the action is good. Same goes for Seward, I would stick to the smaller boats.

    The weather in either place can be terrible, especially in September. I wouldn't book either trip in advance, you will have no probem getting on board the day of the tour at that time of year.
  11. just did one of the tours out of Seward, it was awesome. we got to see everything we had hoped for and more (the weather was on our side)... we did a 6 hour tour and we got to spend some time by the Glacier. amazing feeling I agree.
  12. We did the Major Marine tour two weeks ago. The Phillips tour was booked full when we arrived in Whittier. We enjoyed the Major tour (saw otters, sea lions, kittiwake rockery and several glaciers that were not calving). The salmon and rib buffet was a deal @ $12. Others we spoke with later in the evening that had taken the Phillips tour saw much more. It travels at a much faster speed, so you see more for your money. Hope you enjoy your AK trip as much as we did.
  13. Just a few more points. Weather in the beginning of the past two septembers has been absolutely fabulous. It was low 70's and sunny everyday from about the first of sept. until the 14th or so. I've lived in Valdez most of my life and I can't remember ever having a summer with as nice as weather as we have had this one so hopefully that will remain for you. Like Tom (?) said I probably wouldn't worry about making your reservation too far in advance. If you do become interested in smaller boats, you could try Honey Charters in Whittier as they sometimes run day trips aboard little boats. Also, in Seward, Kenai Fjords runs the Mariah tour boats (mostly 43' Delta charter boats) which do 9.5 hour trips (either a Captain's Choice or the run to Northwestern Glacier) for around $179. In recent years, Northwestern Glacier has retreated to the point where quite a bit of it is actually up on bedrock, however the trip up the fjord is probably one of the best examples of a recently glaciated area to be had in Alaska.

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