Alaska Marine Highway

Aside from seeing tents pitched on the stern of the ferry, everything else was, more or less, normal. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the 2-berth cabin, but unlocking the door yielded a quite nice surprise:


2-berth cabin aboard AMHS' "Columbia" ferry


As you can see, the rooms are quite nice and, although not very large, there was plenty of room for our 2 backpacks (clothing, snacks, medications) and my photo backpack (our main luggage was checked onto the baggage cart at the ferry terminal … no sense carrying extra bags into our room!); all of our “onboard” luggage easily fit either under the beds, or in the luggage compartment, located across from the ladder to the top bunk. And immediately to the left of the above photo is a door that led to our private bathroom, complete with shower! Now the “Columbia” is a newer ferry, so I don’t know how the older boats in the fleet stack up, but we were sure happy!

After getting our carry-on luggage put away, we began exploring the boat. We found a convenient cafeteria (good food, albeit a bit pricey) and a sit-down restaurant. There was also a bar area and a “recliner lounge”, where they even showed movies a couple of times each day. But most of our daylight time was spent in the forward observation lounge. This area had windows totally around the area and was great for seeing where the boat was heading, and watching for wildlife. Speaking of wildlife, we cruised past a pod of Humpback Whales:


Humpback Whale starting to dive


Humpback Whale diving


In addition, I saw two harbor porpoises (or should that be porpi?) and several bald eagles as we cruised the Canadian Inside Passage. But my best find was a lone wolf exploring the shoreline! Unfortunately, we were a long ways from the shore when I spotted him. I was checking out the shoreline with my binoculars and bam! … over a large rock he appeared, working the shoreline opposite the way we were traveling. I bent down, picked up my camera with 100-400mm attached, and tried to get a shot, but couldn’t find him again! Thinking I may have been seeing things, I talked with the onboard naturalist (yes, another great feature of the Alaska Marine Highway … during the summer season, the ferry has US Forest Service naturalists on board. They present programs several times a day and also announce whenever wildlife is spotted) and she confirmed that there were wolves in the area.

We also saw a small pod of Orcas (“killer” whales, although technically they are not whales, but are our only toothed dolphin), but were traveling at high speed the opposite direction and were not photographed.

Sunsets aboard the ferry were rather colorful:


British Columbia sunset, from aboard "Columbia"


British Columbia sunset, from aboard "Columbia" ferry


Canadian Inside Passage town during sunset


The ferry trip was a lot of fun! We left Bellingham, Washington, at 6:00pm on Friday evening and arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska, at 7:00am on Sunday. The next few posts will be about our experiences in this small, southernmost Alaska town.


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