The Inside Passage
We came from Whitehorse. We arrived early enough and went
down to the ferry terminal, where Eric got the latests information
about the schedule and departure procedures. We had about two hours
left to explore Skagway. Let's go. Skagway is a very pretty old
city with mainly souvenir shops.
Back at the ferry terminal we prepared our mission. We wanted 7
deckchairs in the solarium. So we had to be first. Gogo, Michele,
Sandra and Sebastian formed the pedestrian group. Trevor, Eric and
me stayed in the van and ontinued listening to our sound track
(limp bizkit - take a look around - theme from Mission Impossible).
They let the pedestrians in first. Lucky us. We almost got in last
with our van. They sort with respect to destiation and car size.
But anyway the pedestrians reserved 7 perfect places to sleep. And
we carried all the rest up from the van.
You may wonder why this place is called Solarium. This is a wonderful
place. I've never seen anything like this before. YOu are on an
international cruise ship. You camp on deck. Some people even have
tents on deck (not allowed under the roof). Most people just have their
sleeping bags and a deck chair (if they were quick enough). Now still,
why Solarium. Under the roof they have mounted some warming lights,
like in a real solarium, which make it a very comfortable place,
sometimes even a bit warm, although you're sleeping on the deck
of a ship on the sea in Alaska. You'll just love it, but you cannot
imagine before you see it.
The ferry stops in most major cities on the way down south (also up
north). But stops may be canceled due to tide conditions. Some
stops are also just at night. You'll wake up and notice, but you'll
not want to get out.
Sitka: The ferry terminal is a little outside the village, tof
far to walk. There are buses running kind of a shuttle to town and
some buses are also running sight-seeing tours. The organization
was very chaotic. You buy the ticket on te bus. But you don't know
which bus to take. And there were not enough buses. But we finally
made it to town. When leaving the bus you must just know the
schedule of the buses going back. You don't want to miss the ferry.
They won't wait.
I first walked around town, had a look at the old Russian Church
(from the outside only, but you can go in) and the totem poles and
did some window shopping. Afterwards I went to the National Park
entrance. I had not much time left. But I just wanted to get in and
browse quickly. But the park was closed. So I walked back (about
15 minutes from the bus terminal) and took the next bus back to
Wrangell: We just stopped for about an hour. It was about
7am. So we decided to find a place for breakfast and enjoyed a
hot breakfast with all you like. Since all the shops were
closed, there was nothing else to do but go back to te ferry.
Ketchikan: We stopped for a few hours around lunch time.
So we decided to go out and look for something different for lunch.
We ordered a taxi at the ferry terminal. It's about a ten minutes ride
to town. You might also walk. But it was raining like I've only
seen it rain in the tropics. But then again in town, not much but
souvenirs and food. We enjoyed something slightly different to
the standard ferry food and went back.
Life on the ferry: There's not too much to do on the
ferry. But some things are still worth mention. First of all life on
deck is very special. If the weather is bad, nobody is out on deck.
People stay in the solarium or go into the ferry, watch some movies,
read, write postcards, eat, drink, ... There is a restaurant, a bar
and a cafeteria and there are also many rooms with just seats or
some with seats and tables. In some rooms people sleep on the
seats or on the floor. Of course, there are also cabins. But no
camper would reserve a cabin on the ferry.
If the weather is good,
you'll find a lot of people on deck. People playing (hacky sack),
playing music and singing, just relaxing, runing or hiking around the
decks. It's just a peaceful athmosphere and people enjoy their time.
From time to time, we tried to spot some animals. But we only saw
some very distand whales and lots of birds. And towards the end of the
journey, people start taking group photos - hey guys of the other
group, you promisd to ublish the big group photo on the web, where is
That was already almost the end of the tour. We left the ferry in
Bellingham, drove to the nearest Walmart (actually the one where
we stopped the first day) to return the unused gear (money back)
and then drove directly to Seattle. Noone wanted a guided tour
of Seattle. We all knew it well enough. So we all just ran away
from each other and started real shopping back in a real city.
We met at the Space Needle (need a reservation) for a late lunch
before Eric had to leave and drive the van back to L.A. Gogo,
Michele and Sebastian stayed in the Green Turtoise down town,
Sandra in a luxury hotel and Trevor and me shared a room in
the Holiday Inn Boeing Field, where we started four weeks ago.
In the evening, some of us met again for a night out. But it was
a short night. You absolutely need a passport to enter any place
selling alcohol, even if you're over 30.
This was the end of a fantastic tour with fantastic people and
a great tour guide. Thanx all for making this trip such a
wonderful experience. I try to provide some souvenirs and
some help for future passengers trip preparation. But first of
all I wrote this web site as a souvenir for myself. So please
understand that it is all just my very personal view. You'll
enjoy it your way. But you'll enjoy!
- Games, movies, talking
- Jogging the ferry decks
- Take the ferry in Skagway (follow signs to the terminal of
the Alaska Marine Highway).
- The ferry takes you to Bellingham via
The ferry only stops in the U.S., never in Canada.
- Juneau (night on our tour)
- Sitka: National Park, souvenir shopping
- Petersburg (night on our tour)
- Wrangell: breakfast
- Ketchikan: Sight-seeing, lunch, a lot of rain
- Leave the ferry in Bellingham (no choice).
- From Bellingham take Highway 5 south to Seattle.
Hints and Tips
- Pack well. But I told you before.
- A day pack with changes of cloths for four days (but be
aware, there's nowhere to get dirty), toiletry and your
- Sleeping bag. A cover may help if it's raining.
- Pad or therma rest.
- Leave your big bag inside the van. You may access
it when the ferry stops.
- Coolers and food boxes.
- Also bring tents if you like. But you must have a very good
sticky tape or some heavy items (such as coolers) to fix
the corners on deck. I'd not recommend tents unless you have
nowhere else to sleep or leave your stuff.
- Prepare to rush the ferry in two groups. Officials will tell
you that it not needed. But you want the best spots. So you'd
better be first. The group walking in (passenger entrance)
is most likely first and will need some items to put onto the
- Bring very waterproof cloths if you leave the ferry in Ketchikan.
It's always raining hard.
- Leave the ferry whenever you can. There's nothing much to do
on the ferry, no physical activities.
- Think about food. Bring some breakfast and sandwich stuff
with you. The food in the ferry restaurant is cheap and ok,
but not very gourmet and getting boring after two days.
- You all leave the ferry in the van. Be prepared to rearrange
bags after a short drive out of the ferry (chaotic, if the van
Inside Passage: M/V Malaspina
- Shower, electricity, movies, ... and much more
Alaska Marine Highway System
Alaska Marine Highway System, Alaska State Ferries
Alaska State Ferries, Alaska Marine Highway, Homer, Alaska
Alaska Marine Highway System Ferries & ferry information
Welcome to the Alaska Inside Passage Travel Planner - ...
Alaska Travel Industry Association -- Inside Passage - ...
Alaska Marine Highway/Inside Passage
Skagway Alaska Convention and Visitors Bureau
A Bibliography for the History of Skagway, Alaska, and the ...
Welcome to Sitka, Alaska, a website for the people, about ...
Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau
City & Borough of Sitka
Tribal Government for Sitka, Alaska
Sitka Through Four Seasons Sitka Downtown Map
City of Wrangell (907)874-2381
Wrangell Alaska Wrangell, Alaska
Gateway to Central Southeast Alaska: Petersburg, Alaska
Petersburg Alaska -- Alaska Adventures, Vacation & Fishing ...
KETCHIKAN ALASKA, Welcome to Ketchikan Alaska
Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, Ketchikan Alaska
City of Ketchikan, Alaska's First City to the Inside Passage ...
Bellingham Washington Community and Visitor Information
Bellingham, Washington, USA
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