June 21st - Riding on the Alaskan Ferries is a fairly easy and quite enjoyable process. The ferries run from Prince Rupert, BC then north along the Inside Passage to Haines or Skagway, Alaska and back down to Prince Rupert, again. We had decided to head north along the passage from Prince Rupert, stopping in Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, and Juneau, and then on to Haines, spending a couple of nights in each port.
This is one of the Alaskan Ferry ships…….
This is the route most often followed by most Alaskan cruise lines, with the exception of maybe the stop in Petersburg, and usually ending in Skagway instead of Haines. Taking the ferry would allow us to see the Inside Passage and those ports of call which you can not drive to see (no roads into them), and would allow for more time in each port than if on a cruise ship. We could, also, take our camper and continue on our way about Alaska. Note- it is quite a bit more expensive to travel on the ferry with a camper than without. They figure the ticket price based on the total length of your tow vehicle and trailer.
This is our truck and camper, loaded on the ferry……
We had gotten reservations ahead of time. You can get online at The Alaskan Marine Highway site and look at sailing times and ports, etc., but with so many stops to coordinate, it was easier to just make my reservations by phone. The ferry reservation people were very helpful, and took care of arranging all the different stops. Another note- The ferry runs on its schedule. Unlike a cruise ship, the ferry may leave a port at 6:30 am, or may arrive at another port at 1:30am. You need to have an adaptable attitude.
After booking our ferry sailings, we made reservations for the campgrounds in the ports where we would spend the nights. We knew when we would be there and we didn’t want to leave to chance having a place to stay.
When we had visited Alaska 2 years ago, we had taken the ferry from Haines to Juneau and back without our camper, then traveled with the camper from Haines to Skagway to save about 300 miles of driving. We did not have the time to travel the whole length of the Inside Passage, but we wanted to get a feel for the ferry system.
The ferry ride is quite comfortable. There are nice, wide, recliner type chairs that you can sit in and watch out the large observation windows. You can also walk about outside on deck, or grab a bite to eat in the cafeteria. You can even catch a movie in the ‘theatre room’ or book a stateroom to sleep in for those overnight sailings.
You can see the large windows and part of the outside deck……
The Inside Passage is a beautiful waterway, lined with ‘mountain- top’ islands that rise out of the fog or clouds.
The water is smooth, as this area is protected from the Pacific Ocean by barrier islands. You really do not notice the motion of the boat.
It is fun to stand outside and watch the scenery…..
Or watch as the ferry pulls up into port. Here we are arriving in Ketchikan, AK.
As we were standing on deck watching our arrival into Ketchikan, we visited with a young couple who were excitedly watching to get their first glimpse of their new home. They were moving to Ketchikan. She was in the Coast Guard, he was in fire and rescue. They had met in San Francisco, where she was in training. Ketchikan was to be their home for the next 3 years. It was a station that they had chosen, sight unseen, and were excited to be moving. Imagine…the adventure……
We watched as the ferry lined up with the ramp which we would drive over with our camper. It was wider (but not by much) than it looks.
Then, when it was time, we headed back to our truck and drove off.