New cruise ship in Whittier assisted in 9/11 evacuation
The town of Whittier welcomed the newest member of its cruise line fleet Wednesday. It’s called “the Bravest,” and it has a one-of-a-kind back story.
Now docked comfortably in Whittier Harbor, the Bravest got its apt name for its valiant contributions to two trying times in American history.
"It was actually one of the boats that responded after 9/11, to do the evacuation, which was one of the largest maritime evacuations in history," Kyle Enright, the ship’s captain, said Wednesday.
It was also on standby when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 lost engine power and made an emergency landing on the Hudson River -- you may know this as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
Enright said Phillips Cruises and Tours, the company that owns the Bravest, decided to keep the original name to share the vessel’s unique history with Alaska, and those who travel to the state.
"That's what it was when it was in New York. We thought with that history to it, we wanted to bring a little piece of that here," Enright said.
So how does a ship this big make the journey from New York to Whittier, Alaska?
First, it was put on a barge in New York. From there, it went south down the Atlantic, crossing the Panama Canal to reach the Pacific Ocean. Then, it traveled north to Victoria, British Columbia – that’s where Enright picked up the ship and finished the journey to Whittier through the Gulf of Alaska.
"This season marks a decade for me,” Enright said. “It's my tenth season working with Phillips Cruises."
After ten years, Enright earned the chance to christen his newly purposed ship with a ribbon-cutting. Enright told Channel 2 how excited he is to operate out of Whittier.
"I've noticed, here in Whittier in particular, when I got here it had much more of a smaller, kind of sleepy-town vibe to it,” he said. “But people are really starting to come and see the beauty of Prince William Sound. So, we're really happy to be able to take this boat and show people these incredible landscapes and the sights out there awaiting them."
The Bravest holds 300 total people, including the ship’s crew. It will begin touring in Prince William Sound starting this summer.