We travel only a portion of “The Inside Passage” along with visitors and tourists. This is Alaska’s Highway, an All-American Road, a Moving Highway, a City unto Itself and so forth. The adventure begins out of Bellingham WA with check in at 4:00 p.m. The process was a bit slow with only one person processing all for boarding. Once aboard we all had to check in with the one purser for our cabins.
It was apparent that budget cuts due to decreased oil prices really hurt ferry operations. They have eliminated the gift shops and the bar/lounges from all ferries and perhaps that was why there were so few people to process all of us.
This was an adventure for us and the long lines did not diminish the experience. Our berth was a tiny inside cabin with it’s own bathroom. Bunk beds were squeaky but comfortable. We headed out for the dining room. They seat you one table at a time through so as not to overwhelm the kitchen I suppose. Passengers were nice about the situation and made acquaintances while waiting.
There were lots of families, elderly, couples and singles. Two floors up were the cafeteria and the dining room and 2 floors down was the car deck. One floor up had a very nice theater room and a play room for children.
At the Pursers’ desk was an interactive map showing the location of the boat, it’s route and the area of the inside passage. That was fun to consult often. Some travelers brought their own food or coolers along. There aren’t any refrigerators in the rooms. Alcohol is not permitted except in you private rooms.
For inexplicable reasons the boat was overheated and very uncomfortable everywhere the first evening and overnight. Thus began our 36 hour voyage. I must say that the traveling this way is still an outstanding way to experience the Inside Passage. The people who choose to travel this way are maybe different than those you see on a cruise ship, were “neighborly” and interested in where everyone was from and where they were going. All the pursers and wait staff were friendly and tried to be helpful and we enjoyed our interaction with everyone.
I had expected to see more tenters sleeping on the deck as it was peak summer season. They sure seemed to be having fun. All we asked said it was wonderful sleeping in the fresh air. Rain was light during the night. Make sure you have plenty of duct tape on hand for securing your tent.
Quite a few people slept in the open air solarium. That certainly looked like a great alternative sleeping arrangement. Side sleepers would find it pretty uncomfortable though. Lounging chairs are 1st come 1st served. Some people squeezed around behind the chairs to sleep.
Sleeping in cars is not allowed and access to the car deck is severely restricted because of a past accident. So for some who didn’t have berths or tents or hadn’t nabbed a lounge chair they might be found sleeping in some theater chairs or behind the rows or tucked her and there.
Many folks travelled with pets and these would stay in their cars in kennels. Their owners had periodic access for potty breaks and exercise.
We spent 2 nights aboard before arriving early Sunday morning in Ketchikan for our first Alaskan land adventure and exploration.