If your Alaska cruise embarks or disembarks in Seward, you will need a transfer to or from Anchorage which is 127 miles away. Cruise passengers can choose either a 3-hour bus transfer or a 4.5-hour ride on the Grandview Train of the Alaska Railroad. The train runs directly between the Anchorage airport and the cruise pier in Seward so it's a great option for cruise passengers.
The train fare is about 40 to 50 percent more than the bus, but the wilderness train route is more scenic and relaxing, passing by picturesque glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and mountains. In addition, the road is very busy in the summer and circles around the mountains, so you won't get as close to the glaciers as you will on the rails.
The Alaska Railroad initiated the Grandview passenger train in 2000 to serve cruise ship passengers traveling between Seward and Anchorage. The train follows the Coastal Classic route, but the departure time is adjusted for the cruise ships.
At the Station in Anchorage
The Alaska Railroad train station in Anchorage is across the street from the Anchorage Airport, so it's easy to fly into Anchorage and take the train to your cruise ship. However, there's so much to do in Anchorage, it's better to fly in a few days before and spend some time sightseeing in the city.
In Seward, the Grandview Train terminal is at the cruise pier, so it is very convenient for those riding the train from Anchorage. Seward also has several hotels and accommodations for guests who want to arrive a day or so before their cruise and do some exploring of the region around Seward.
Alaska Railroad Dome Car
The domed-car seats on the Alaska Railroad Grandview Train are arranged four to a table, making for a comfortable ride with a scenic view through the roof of the train. It's fun to be able to see all of the surrounding scenery and mountain tops (even when it is raining or cool). Sitting at a table is also very conducive to conversation, so it offers people the opportunity to make new friends as they ride.
Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet
Clouds often cover the mountains, giving them an eerie appearance. Visitors to Alaska soon learn to appreciate the "mist" that covers many of the mountain tops. Turnagain Arm, one of two arms at Cook Inlet, is subject to climate extremes and large tide ranges.
Alaska has many waterfalls, and this one is visible from the train. Cruise travelers will see many more waterfalls as their ship visits the fjords of Alaska.
Mountain, Marshes, and Wildlife
This type of marshy area is perfect for moose, but none were visible on this day. Visitors to Alaska should always be on the lookout for moose when they see a boggy or swampy area.
There are opportunities for viewing wildlife from the train and you may see black and brown bear, caribou, moose, bald eagle, ptarmigan, salmon, mountain goat, and Dahl sheep.
Even though the weather is not too cold in Alaska in the summer months, visitors will see snow-capped mountains year 'round. This photo was taken in July, and you can see snow in the mountains the entire summer season before the first snow showers start to fall in September.
Spencer Glacier Views
Spencer Glacier rises 3,500 feet from a lake of blue icebergs. The train linking Anchorage and Seward includes a look at this glacier, one of many that cruise passengers have an opportunity to see since Alaska is famous for its tidal glaciers that seem to flow into the ocean.
Alaska Railroad Grandview Train - Coastal Classic Train
When on a train, it's always fun to get a photo of the rest of the train when you are going around a bend. The Alaska Railroad Grandview Train consists of regular passenger and dome observation cars pulled by diesel engines.
The Coastal Train passengers see snow-capped mountains, lakes, glaciers, and even a few rivers and streams as their train makes its way from Anchorage to Seward. The rivers look grey as they carry glacial run-off on their journey to the sea.
The Grandview Train passes within 800 feet of the Bartlett Glacier. The Coastal Classic train has local experts on board who will point out all of the important sites along the route. Bartlett Glacier is 30 nautical miles long and 5 nautical miles wide. It was named after Captain Robert A. Bartlett, of Newfoundland, an Arctic explorer.