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Alaskan Ferries along 'The Inside Passage'

USA | Tuesday, 10 June 2008 | Views [574]

From the hostel we stayed at in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island we drove north to Port Hardy where we put the car on a ferry to Prince Rupert, and from there, on another ferry to Alaska. On the drive we saw two black bears along the side of the road which was pretty cool being our first bear spotting. There's no brown bears or grizzlies on Vancouver Island, but plenty of black bears which are pretty cute and not all that big. Vancouver Island is pretty and the north part is not developed at all. It would have been great to stay a while and check it out, but time didn't allow as we had a boat to catch!

In Port Hardy we camped at the best campground I think I've seen. Showers were clean and free, woodfire was free, a laundry was available- it was great! On Wed 11th June we got up at 5am packed our tent in the rain and headed for the ferry to wait in line for an hour or so. We dried the tent out over the car in the car deck which was handy. The ferry was nice and new- we got a good seat and set ourselves up. Me with my knitting, Jo with his book. There was plenty of time to watch the gorgeous views and before even leaving the dock we saw a bald eagle ripping apart a seagull it had caught! We also saw some whales and porpoises during the day. The sun came out in the afternoon and the snow capped mountain views were absolutely beautiful. By the 15th hour on the ferry though we were wishing we had brought our own food as the food on the ferry is pretty nasty and very expensive!

We got into Prince Rupert at 10:30pm and found a quiet spot to sleep in the car. It was raining again so the car was the best option. We had to be up at 5am again anyway to get to the ferry terminal to go through US customs. This ferry was not so new and it was a good thing we'd packed some food the night before. The views were again amazing though very cloudy for most of this trip. We saw many whales and dolphins on this part of the trip and our first ever iceberg (although small!) We also had a shower on the ferry while in motion... which made it interesting.

We stopped briefly in Ketchikan where we stretched our legs and stocked up on food. Then we set up for sleep in the observation deck on the ferry as we were too cheap to book one of the tiny cabins. If only the old dude who kept snoring didn't follow us around (or so it seemed to me who was desparately trying to get some zzz's).

We were amazed at how many Aussie's were on the ferry though. Seems Aussies are attracted to Alaska...and we felt like just another one of them. Most got off at Petersburgh though and we were going all the way to Haines so that was good.

Next day we arrived in Juneau where we had to change ferries. Juneau was pretty touristy as the big cruise ships stop there, still, it was beautiful. It sits at the bottom of a snowy mountain and along the water. This is where we saw our first glacier as well as Juneau pretty much sits in front of a glacier. It was impressive.

The last ferry ride was from Juneau to Haines which was only a few hours. This was a pretty interesting journey though because we met the author of 'Lonely Planet- Alaska' in the bar! Jim DuFrense was a really nice guy and gave us loads of information about hiking Alaska and we had a great chat over a few beers. He signed our book and convinced us we needed to stay in SE Alaska and do the Chilkoot trail- in his opinion the best hike in Alaska. And so we started planning how we could do this.

Finally we arrived in Haines after a few days on the ferries and it was back to driving. It was about 10pm and we were exhausted from such a long day so we drove into a state park a set up for sleep in the car.

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