Ferry from Bellingham to Haines, Alaska

Take the Alaska Marine Highway (Alaska’s ferry system) from Bellingham up the Inside Passage to Haines and then drive the last 750 miles to Anchorage. That’s the plan. We left Bellingham Friday night. Saturday was spent entirely at sea cruising through Canada and yesterday (Sunday) morning we arrived at our first stop: Ketchikan. Mike and I had spent quite a bit of time here, nearly 10 years ago, when we were working for NOAA aboard the Fairweather and it was a sort of homecoming. If it hadn’t been for the clear, sunny skies it might have felt more familiar. It’s rare for it not to be raining in Ketchikan. The gauge in town shows that last year they were blessed with 150 inches of “liquid sunshine”.

The ferry has been a perfect way to travel. All the fun of passage-making and none of the work. We don’t have to stand watches, worry about water, fuel and navigation, and we get to sleep through the night. We can take long, hot showers, go for a walk on deck and be warm and dry inside. The view is ever changing but not so slow to be boring and not too fast, so there is lots of time to enjoy it and take photos. We got to spend 5 hours off the ship in Ketchikan – just enough time to reminisce and see the town. Unfortunately, the next stops in Wrangell and Petersburg were for less an hour and the Juneau stop was 15 miles from town in Auke Bay.

We just arrived in Haines and are staying at a hotel overlooking Lynn Canal, surrounded by snow covered mountains. We are watching the bald eagles and there is some old  snow on the ground. The forecast calls for fresh snow on Wednesday, so we need to get on the Alcan Highway first thing tomorrow.

If the photos below aren’t enough, there are tons more here.

Boarding the ship in BellinghamBoarding the ship in Bellingham

Our room aboard the M/V Matanuska has bunk beds, a private bathroom with shower and even a window.Our room aboard the M/V Matanuska has bunk beds, a private bathroom with shower and even a window.

The view from our roomThe view from our room

Transiting through Canadian watersTransiting through Canadian waters

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Tlingit Totem PoleTlingit Totem Pole



View from our dinner tableView from our dinner table

05-DSCF0791Ferry terminal at Auke Bay (near Juneau)Ferry terminal at Auke Bay (near Juneau)

Auke Bay and Mendenhall GalcierAuke Bay and Mendenhall Galcier

Eldred Rock LighthouseEldred Rock Lighthouse

09-DSCF0915Davidson GlacierDavidson Glacier

1-DSCF0954 2-DSCF0977 Pulling into Haines ferry dockPulling into Haines ferry dock

View from hotel in HainesView from hotel in Haines


5 Responses

  1. Rona House

    You have confirmed my idea, with great photos, that the way for me to see the west coast is:-
    1. fly to Juneau;
    2. ferry to Seattle;
    3. Amtrak to San Diego
    Wonder what is the best time of year for whales and bears?

    1. Rona, yes! Taking the ferry is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had! 🙂 Bears sleep in the winter and whales are always here. But summer is the best time to see Alaska! Unless you want to see the Aurora Borealis…

  2. Ruthie

    A working man’s cruise ship, no need for a tux! Not very many people up and about in Ketchikan, Great Pic’s, keep in touch.

  3. We bundle-up in sleeping bags on lounge chairs under the solarium, top deck. Amazing view, and most certainly one of our most favorite travel experiences (fourth time). Use of showers, cafeteria and bar makes this an inexpensive cruise that’s better than cruise ship surroundings, from our viewpoint!

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