The Alaska Marine Highway, a ferry system with a 3,500-mile route from Washington State to the Aleutian Islands, provides a way to experience the breathtaking scenery of Alaska in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. And you can bring along a car, motorcycle or RV to explore towns along the way.
The state of Alaska created the Marine Highway to provide transportation to areas of Alaska that could not be reached by road. Today, you can use the system to visit 35 ports and explore dozens of unique communities that are still not accessible via the road system. The route is so spectacular that it has been designated as an All-American Road and one of America’s National Scenic Byways.
The Marine Highway fleet includes 11 ships in a variety of sizes, some able to carry as many as 500 passengers and 100 vehicles. Riders can walk on board or bring a car, truck, motorhome, motorcycle or other means of transport, such as a kayak or bicycle. Bringing a motorhome or car lets visitors combine a driving vacation with ferry travel. Riders can start their trip at ports in Bellingham, Washington, or Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and can book multiple legs of travel on different ferries to allow as much time in each community as they want.
Passengers may book a cabin that sleeps as many as four people. Cabins are sold per trip, not per person. Cabins and car deck space fill up quickly so reservations are highly recommended. Passengers can also lay out under the solarium, a heated area on deck with unimpeded views, or for a unique adventure, pitch a tent and camp out under the stars. (Regulations prohibit staying in your RV on the car deck.)
Passengers enjoy views of vivid blue glaciers, snow-capped mountains, active volcanoes, majestic fjords and lush green forests. Passengers will also find ample opportunities to view wildlife such as porpoise, bald eagles, sea otters, whales and perhaps even bears along the coastline. “I’ve seen more whales off the ferry than anything,” says Mari Minke of Homer, Alaska. “Just look out the window!”
The Alaska Marine Highway provides a unique and unforgettable way to experience Alaska, says Elaine Schroeder of Juneau, “The ferry is just a gorgeous way to travel, with wonderful scenery and wildlife. It’s fun, and you can stop wherever you want”.
The ferris connect passengers with communities hat feature everything from great hiking and glacier viewing to kayaking and fishing. Whether you walk on, drive a car or ride a bike, passengers like Kevin Lauscher of Kodiak, Alaska, say traveling on an Alaska ferry is an experience you don’t want to miss. “The cool thing about the ferry is if you bring your vehicle, you can do what- ever you want. It’s really do-it-yourself.”
To learn about routes, watch videos and view sample itineraries on the Alaska Marine Highway, go to FerryAlaska.com or visit Facebook.com/AlaskaMarineHighway.