Caribbean vacations
Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Anchorage Cruise Port Tips

Anchorage visitors' center
Anchorage visitors' center. © 2018 Scott Bateman
Anchorage is the beginning or end for most Alaska cruises, but ships don’t actually begin or end there.

They usually begin or end at either Seward or Whittier, which are both about two hours by car from Anchorage. What Anchorage offers is an airport.

Cruise passengers take a car, shuttle, train or rental bus between Anchorage and either Seward or Whittier.

Is it worthwhile for anyone to spend extra time in Anchorage before or after their cruises? Seattle and Vancouver have many attractions that make it worthwhile to spend an extra night or two in either city.

We tried spending one extra night in Anchorage to see what we could find.

Anchorage Attractions

A starting point is a most unusual visitor center: a log cabin in the middle of downtown Anchorage. The historic Log Cabin Visitor Information Center on the corner of Fourth Avenue and F Street has plenty of information and helpful volunteers on what to see in do in the area.

It also is the starting and stopping point for a remarkably busy tour bus. The one-hour bus ride is somewhat interesting, especially the massive small plane airport.

Afterwards, we crossed the street to the federal building for the free exhibits and a series of films about the state.

Anchorage Museum, 625 C Street, is the state’s largest museum. It has a broad focus on art and design, history, science and culture. Exhibits include native Alaska cultures, an interactive history gallery and a hands-on science center with a planetarium, marine life tanks and other attractions.

Alaska Native Heritage Center, 8800 Heritage Center Drive, is a 26-acre facility that educates the public about Alaska Native history and culture. It has art, dances, movies, exhibits, traditional native dwellings, demonstrations of native games and more. ANHC is about seven miles east of the city center.

Anyone who goes to the Alaska Native Heritage Center can continue another six miles in the same direction to Chugach State Park. Attractions include the 200-foot Thunderbird Falls, the Eagle River Nature Center, Eklutna Lake and various hiking and cycling trails.

Alaska Zoo, 4731 O’Malley Road, specializes in the conservation of Arctic, sub-Arctic and similar climate species. The center cares for orphaned wildlife in addition to providing education and research. The zoo is about 10 miles southeast of the city center.

About six miles farther southeast of the zoo is Flattop Mountain, a commercial resort and recreation development. The development claims it is Alaska’s most visited peak. Hikers can scend the 1.5-mile, 1,350 vertical foot trail to the summit in about an hour. It has panoramic views from Denali and Mt. McKinley to the Aleutian Islands. A shuttle is available from 4th and C streets downtown for $22 per person.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, 79 Seward Highway, is nearly one hour south of Anchorage. It’s also a common stop for some of the shuttles that take people to and from Anchorage and the southern ports at Seward and Whittier.

The center is a mid-sized open-air zoo with various animals available for public viewing including bears, wolves, eagles, buffalo, lynx, elk, moose and more. Prices are $15 for adults and $10 for children 7 to 17.

Getting Around / Transportation

Anchorage has a street naming system like Washington D.C. that names streets with letters in one direction and numbers in the other. If only all cities had such an easy system to follow. Walkers will have no trouble touring the city and finding the addresses they want.

Unlike the smaller ports, Anchorage has plenty of taxis to take people just about anywhere around the city.

Budget travelers can use a public bus system called People Mover. Adult fares are $2; day passes are $5.


Despite Alaska images of massive snow, Anchorage is one of the driest locations on any cruise itinerary for the state.

Total rainfall in June is a little more than one inch, according to historical data from the U.S. National Weather Service. Rainfall climbs to only two inches in July and three in August.

Even September, which usually brings heavy rains to most of southeast Alaska, average only about three inches.

Average high temperatures in the summer reach the upper 60s Fahrenheit and sometimes break into the 70s.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Cruise Ports   

November 23, 2018

More Tips