After 2 days and 2 nights in Valdez, I took the AMH Bartlett to continue my journey to Whittier. The ride was about 7 hours, and the ticket was $65 in 2002. Bartlett is one of the smallest vessels among AMH fleet. Bartlett has no berth (room) because this is a relatively short ride. But it has a nice restaurant where you can dine on the deck with incredible fjord view.
Although not a commercial service, AMH Bartlett made a few photo stops when crossing the beautiful Prince William sound. Due to Columbia Glacier's fast retreat, we couldn't get a clear view anymore. In the photo you can see icebergs floating out of the Glacier from about 10 miles away.
Alaska Marine Highway (AMH) is a convenient and inexpensive way to travel around Alaska. It's sometimes called "poor men's cruise". To some remote coastal towns and cities, AMH is the only transportation to the outside.
Consider visiting Valdez on AMH. Going east, Valdez has ferry service to Cordova (several times a week) and all the way to Inside Passage (once a month). Going west it's only a few hours to Anchorage (by way of Whittier) and Seward, crossing Prince William Sound (many times a week). The photo shows AMH ferry travelling in the beautiful fjords of Valdez Narrow. Use the website below to check their schedule.
The most beautiful way to get to Valdez is to drive from Anchorage. The scenery along the way is spectacular, not to mention there is a great potential for spotting wildlife. Moose, caribou, coyote, etc.
If you are coming or going to Portage/Anchorage/Seward areas, then a great option is to take the 6 - 6 1/2 hour car ferry. Reservations are a must! Phone: (907)835-4436. Not only can you enjoy the scenery; the glaciers, mountains, and marine wildlife of Prince William Sound, but you can relax. You won't have to drive the long road route twice. Make a loop out of it. Photo: Getting ready to board the ferry very early in the morning in Sept. '96. The ferry leaves Valdez at 7:15 am. It goes to Whittier and returns from there around 2pm. There may be a second ferry with the reverse schedule. I'm not sure anymore.
Photo: From the ferry, close to Whittier. Once you disembark in Whittier, you have to drive your vehicle onto a train in order to get back to the highway and Portage. The train ride takes about 1 hour. You sit in your vehicle during this train ride. Your vehicle is secured on the train with tire blocks.
During the ferry ride you'll see lots of iceflows and small icebergs which have calved off the Columbia Glacier. You'll also possibly see whales, orcas, harbor seals, sea otters, and lots of seabirds.
You can travel on a flat iceberg or iceflow. It is slow, and the harbor seals may be annoyed with you for taking their ride, but it will truly be an adventure. Dress warmly, and don't fall off! A paddle will help you direct yourself through the currents.