Alaska Marine Highway Ferries
Alaska ferries carry large numbers of passengers and vehicles to and from various cities and villages on the Gulf of Alaska and the Inside Passage. Technically referred to as the Alaska Marine Highway System, the ferry system also has year-round connections with Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and Bellingham, Washington (just north of Seattle). There are two main ferry routes, and they are not connected. The mainline route goes between Bellingham, Prince Rupert and the southeastern ports, and a separate route in the Southcentral part of the state has stops in Valdez, Seward, Homer and additional points.
Many passengers choose to take the ferry to places like Skagway, where they drive off the ferry and onto smaller highways that connect with the lengthy Alaska Highway.
Reservations usually don’t need to be made much more than 1 month in advance during the winter, but passengers should book their trip by December (or even earlier!) for summer ferry trips.
While ferries are smaller than cruise ships, they still provide a host of amenities which will make every trip comfortable and enjoyable. Passengers will have access to food and beverages, elevators, telephones, and entertainment. Cabins are offered on some ferries as well for passengers on longer voyages. On-board guides provide helpful travel tips as well as make announcements about points of interest the ferry passes by.
Before taking your vehicle aboard a ferry, be sure to read up on all of the rules and regulations. In short, any vehicle which is able to be legally driven (or towed) on the highway may be transported on a ferry. With respect to fares, the wider and longer your vehicle is, the more you will pay. Extra-wide vehicles which exceed 8 ½ feet in width will be charged 125% of the listed fare. While you will be able to visit your vehicle while you are at port, you must be accompanied by a crew-person to visit the vehicle during voyages, and usually only on longer voyages.