The Alaska State Ferry Info Thread

Discussion in 'Americas' started by AKDuc, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    This thread is updated regularly and has good info from many who've ridden our State Ferries over the years. For starters, here's a link to the Alaska Marine Highway System's website: http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/ 'Fare Tables' in 'Plan A Trip' will give you the cost of yourself and your bike (Vehicles Up To 10') and the 'PDF Schedule Grid' in 'Schedules' will show you the when and where of each ferry. And if you really have a hard time figuring it all out you're welcome to pm me. :wink:

    Unless you really REALLY feel the need for more days of rest, I strongly recommend going thru Prince Rupert BC instead of sailing to or from Bellingham when doing the Inside Passage to or from Haines or Skagway. 2 sailings a week out of PR and you save a lot of time and money. Plus the roads in and out of Prince Rupert, Haines, and Skagway are awesome. :thumb This year there will be 2 ferries sailing in and out of Bellingham, the MV Columbia which is the Flagship of the AMHS so it's done up a bit fancier, and the MV Kennicott who's layout IMO is the least passenger friendly.

    Few more tips while I gotcha, IMO when you're on a motorcycle you usually don't HAVE to have reservations unless you're sailing Cross Gulf or going in or out of Bellingham. You can almost always get yourself and a motorcycle squeezed onboard the other ferries.

    And unless you're on your Honeymoon or really feel a need for privacy, don't rent a berth or pitch a tent. Instead, you'll see a lot more and probably have more fun if you just throw your pad and sleeping bag on one of the fully reclining lounge chairs or on the carpeted floor up in the covered and heated Solarium. More socializing with other friendly passengers and you'll always be alerted to any wildlife sightings as well as a much greater panoramic view! I discourage tenting because you have to tape it down so it doesn't get blown away and it can be extremely noisy because of the constant wind.

    If you can't or don't want to go through Canada, there's 1 sailing every 2wks across the Gulf going between Bellingham, WA and Homer or Whittier, AK on the MV Kennicott. It's a very long and VERY expensive boat ride and as stated the Kennicott is my least favorite ferry because of its less than passenger friendly layout. It was built after the big Exxon Valdez oil spill and was designed primarily as an oil spill response command vessel. Sad, but as a consolation some say it has the nicest artwork onboard.

    As mentioned elsewhere, you can find a lot of good info about coming up here in the 'Alaska' forum. Lots of friendly folks too. :D And of course, a few wise guys. :brow You're also welcome to pm me if you feel the need or just ask here if you think someone else may benefit from your question which will also help to keep this post from just falling off into the deep.

    I'll also use this to remind and encourage everyone to join us in the annual D2D (Dust 2 Dawson City Yukon) gathering that happens around Solstice. Over 200 riders from all around the world. Fun!

    And one more thing, I know many riders have the end of the road up in Prudhoe Bay as their primary/only destination and many of us locals think that's unfortunate. Many of us believe the scenery of Southeast and Southcentral AK is much more spectacular and impressive. Plus you'll have more opportunities to experience our "Last Frontier" hospitality. :D

    Now come on up and pay us a visit. Have fun, Mark H.

    "Jeez, just how many "land yachts" can we get into this tub?!?" :lol2
    [​IMG]

    Ahh, what a fun way to travel.
    [​IMG]

    And the sights you see....
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    The Inside Passage can offer very protected waters.

    Sunset in Southeast off the stern of the MV Columbia. That's the ocean, folks.
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. Pastieman

    Pastieman Been here awhile

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    I second sleeping on a deck chair of floor of the solarium. I spent some time in Juneau and took the ferry from Prince Rupert to get there, then all the way to Bellingham on the way back.

    I honestly don't think you miss much between PR and Belling Ham. And the drivce to PR is great, good roads, and no crazy passes.

    OH yea, the solarium. Spend as much time as you could out there. You'll me some interesting people, and some REALLY intersting people:uhoh. most likely you'll see tons of wildlife. From whales to Flamingos.


    Brian
    #2
  3. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    If you're interested in a bit more about Southeast AK, I invite you to take a look at my ride report from last summer: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=258739

    I'm related to most folks on Annette Island (the only Indian Reservation in AK) and try to get down there every couple years but it's a lengthy journey. 800mi from Anchorage to Haines, a day and a half on one ferry to Ketchikan, and then another ferry over to the town of Metlakatla on Annette. Wonderful trip tho.

    Be forewarned about the ride report tho, it's 2 pages long with about 80 photos per page. :D

    Happy trails, Mark H.
    #3
  4. usatic

    usatic Afreakin' Twin

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    Further to what AKDuc posted. link
    #4
  5. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Maybe you'll even get to ride on one of our new fangled twin hulled fast ferries. :evil

    They cruise around 40mph! And they're super smooth. :brow

    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. HYLYNDYR

    HYLYNDYR naewittyshitepostedere

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    So how do you tell from the schedule which boat is the fast cat ?? Is there a fast cat schedule somewhere ?
    #6
  7. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

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    The cats are the M/V Chenega and the M/V Fairweather.

    Unfortunately, because the idiots that run the Marine Highway are...well...idiots... the only summertime fast ferry service in Juneau now is to either Sitka or Petersburg...WTF??? Stupid fockers.
    #7
  8. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Yep, lots of nice art work including the wood floor inlay found on the fast ferries. :D

    [​IMG]
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  9. AKjeff

    AKjeff Long timer

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    Some more tips for traveling by ferry, I hope AKDuc doesn't mind if I tack 'em on here.

    1. Bring tie down straps for your bike(s), there are tie down points on the car deck.

    2. As mentioned, food is available on board, though it is kind of expensive. Many people bring a cooler of their own food to save a little. Kind of impractical on a bike, but a couple bag lunches go a ways and help with the cost.

    3. The first stop north bound is Ketchikan, there is a grocery store across the street to resupply yourself from.

    4. Just because you board one ferry doesn't mean you have to stay on that one until the end of the line. You can get off in ports along the way, spend a day, or more, to see the local towns and catch the next ferry through. On edit: I just discovered this costs extra.

    I work on the ferry, anyone heading up this way is welcome to PM me, if I'm working on your ferry we may have time to get together.

    Final notes, drinking in the solarium, or else where in public, is a no no. Don't get caught. Alcohol is served in the bars and in the dinning room of the Columbia.

    Drugs are not tolerated on board, I believe the authorities in the next port are called and will escort the guilty party off the ship.
    #9
  10. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Good info, Jeff. :thumbup

    Do you know if the ferry workers move motorcycles around on the car deck on occasion? They moved and dropped my brothers BMW R100RS one trip years ago. Scuffs and scrapes but nothing broken.

    Maybe see you this summer (2012) as I'm coming back down for the 125yr Founder's Day Celebration of Metlakatla.

    See ya, Mark H.
    #10
  11. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Since this thread is about the ferry system and there a chance some may be traveling thru the Prince Rupert BC area, I thought I'd recommend a historical novel about the area. It's called 'Challenge the Wilderness' by George Tomlinson and it's about one of the first white families to live in the north BC area back in the 1800's. It's out of print but can be found used. I really like the book a lot: http://vnesdoly.blogspot.com/2005/10/book-review-challenge-wilderness.html

    Looking forward to seeing some of you up here. Have fun, Mark H.
    #11
  12. AKjeff

    AKjeff Long timer

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    I've never been aware of the crew moving bikes. If a bike is unaccompanied the crew would have to move it. I'd hope, as a crew member and bike owner, that they would contact the bike's owner, if they were on board, to move a bike if needed.

    I don't know which vessels have free WiFi. I rode the Malaspina in Jan. on my trip but I didn't have my laptop so I couldn't take advantage of it. I work on various ferries as a relief, in the engine dept.
    #12
  13. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

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    Trust me...he's right on this one.

    I'm "the authorities". :D
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  14. curty

    curty Sum'a bitch

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    Do we need to bring our own tie-downs? I really don't want to lug tie-downs all the way from Atlanta to Prince rupert.
    #14
  15. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

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    Yes you do.
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  16. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    You could carry a couple 8' lengths of 7mm low stretch static nylon climbing cord and do a trucker's hitch.

    Yeah Jeff, the bike was moved and dropped while we were in some port. I was out walking around.

    Mark H.
    #16
  17. curty

    curty Sum'a bitch

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    Thanks I figure I could buy a couple of cheap hardware store ones and give them to somebody in Haines, when we disembark. Look forward to see the great white north for the first time. I will be with a group of six doing Atlanta-Prudhoe Bay-Keywest In June. :clap
    #17
  18. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    How about another photo to whet your whistle? :wink:

    A small boat harbor in Letnikof Cove just a few miles south of Haines on Mud Bay Rd. Those lovely mountains are also in the background of a few movies. :brow

    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. earthroamer

    earthroamer Stuck in Pindadesh

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    I plan to take the ferry from Haines to Bellingham the week of July 7. I will be camping on deck. Should I get a reservation or is a bike a sure thing?
    #19
  20. AKjeff

    AKjeff Long timer

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    If your sure about the dates a reservation doesn't hurt.

    I just heard today that the north bound Bellingham ferry is running full. Right now it's a smaller ferry then what is usually on that run. The southbound boat should still have room for you in July, by August they start filling up.
    #20