Day 5 – Train to Whittier & Boarding the Cruise Ship!

Woke up, headed to Black Bear Coffee shop, to get a mocha and a blueberry muffin and headed to the train depot.  The train is a two-level, glass-top train.  There is an observation deck, bar and dining room in each car.  The views are very scenic on the train.  We are passing through two different mountain ranges that was carved out by a glacier. The train ride was 9 hours long.  We were told it would be the toughest part of the trip, however, it wasn’t that bad!  We split the time up nicely, writing/reading, walking through the train cars and spending time on the very back observation deck (which was quite a hike since we were in the first car!), we ate two meals in the dining car, spent some time in the lounge area with my laptop plugged in and watched some episodes of Community.

Glass Top Train, Alaska

Credit: Justine, my SIL & Travel Companion :)

Alaska Glass Top Train

One incredibly rare occurrence that happened on the train was our commute time happened to line up perfecting with the Bore Tide during a full moon returning to the Turnagain Arm in Cook Inlet.  A bore tide is huge, and this is  one of the biggest in the world.  It occurs when a high tide collides with an outgoing tide in a narrow channel.  Waves can reach 10 ft tall and move upstream at 10-15 mph. This is the only bore tide in the far north, and the only surrounded by mountains, and its extremely accessible. The main road runs right along its length for 40-50 miles and the train tracks run right next to the road! Surfers sit and wait, ready and perched for their one chance to catch the way and ride as long as possible.  Most fall and are done for the day.  Some have paddles and if they fall can sped forward to try and get in front of the wave again for a second chance. Our train slowed and we were able to watch the failure and success of the surfers as they went for miles alongside us as the bore tide came in.

Bore Tide - Turnagain Arm

After experiencing the bore tide, we entered 2 tunnels to bring us into Whittier, Alaska. The Portage Tunnel cuts through Maynard mountain and is the only land access to town. We heard a story of a police chase where the runaway car went through the tunnel and really made the cops jobs easy because he was now trapped in the small town of Whittier with no other way out.  The Portage tunnel is 13,300 feet long and is the second longest highway tunnel and longest combined rail and highway tunnel in North America. Once we exited the tunnel, we caught the first glimpse of our Cruise Ship, The Crown Princess! 

Crown Princess Cruise Ship

She’s the biggest cruise ship aloud in the Alaskan Inner Passage and holds over 3,000 passengers.  This was the first time T or I had ever been on a cruise, so it was very exciting for both of us! We quickly got check in and made it to our rooms.  H & J had their own room, T & I and our own room, which shared a balcony, and Hob was a floater who sometimes didn’t come back to the room at all.  Parents had their own suite at the very back of the ship.  We made our way to their room where their steward greeted us with champagne, a big bowl of fruit, and a platter of chocolate covered strawberries. It was ridiculous lol.

Our family decided on purchasing the All Inclusive Drink Package.  It was $49 per day, per person, and you had to purchase for the entire trip. I.E, it was roughly $400 a person. This included coffee, tea, juice, milkshakes, water and all alcohol. But OMG did we drink as much as possible!  So that first night included a lot of whiskey! And boy did I feel it the next day on the roughest day at sea.

xo R