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Old 03-30-2017, 08:07 PM
 
38 posts, read 45,298 times
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Hello all,

My wife and I are hoping to hit Juneau and SE Alaska in June on a trip that will be centered around a multi-day backcountry kayaking trip in Glacier Bay National Park. I'm writing here in hopes that some of you can help me explore a couple of options as far as getting to Juneau. I have a few questions below, and I greatly appreciate any insight anyone can provide

1) My ideal would be able to take a one-way cruise from Vancouver up to Juneau or another SE Alaska port, then fly back home when we are done. Based on the research I've done, however, there are no one-way cruises that end in SE Alaska -- they all seem to continue up to the Anchorage area, which we don't want to do. If anyone has any information otherwise, I would love to know...

2) So since a cruise doesn't seem to be an option, I have looked into the Alaska Marine Highway ferry that goes from Bellingham up to Alaska. I know this is not a luxurious vessel, but we love the idea of seeing the Inside Passage and being on the water on our way up, so I think this is likely what we will end up doing, then fly back home. We would want a cabin as I don't think we'll want to camp as I have read that many people do. Does anyone have any experience with this ferry and did you feel that it was comfortable/an enjoyable time?

3) We have also thought about driving to Haines and ferrying over to Glacier Bay and Juneau. Has anyone driven from the lower 48 to Alaska? I feel that it could be a slog, and the drive in and of itself does not appeal to us. However, if there are interesting places to stop and stay (don't mind camping, love it actually, just not on a ferry), hike, etc., I feel it could be worth looking into. We could do Banff and Jasper on the way perhaps, but once you get to a certain latitude north, does it just become a long drive? Appreciate any insight.

Sorry for the length here. Greatly appreciate any insight!
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Old 03-30-2017, 08:20 PM
 
Location: Washington State desert
3,070 posts, read 1,568,085 times
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I did the Alaska Marine Highway (or perhaps more aptly put, The Alaska State Ferry, in the mid-90's.) As I have mentioned in another thread, you get the same scenery for the most part, but they don't take timeout to visit glacial bays, for example. Afterall, this is a point A to point B service, but the scenery is still spectacular. On board, you will find minimal services. Cabins are available at extra cost, but yes, nothing too luxurious. In fact, as you mentioned, many travelers just camp out in the public areas and sleep there as well. Far from a luxury cruise liner. Food is cafeteria style, and there usually is a cocktail bar.
One other big advantage is you can bring your car on board on most routes, but that of course is extra.

Weather is a crapshoot, but expect clouds and rain almost anytime. What Alaska tourism doesn't tell you is that August begins a secondary rainy season, so June and July are probably the best.

Perhaps my info is outdated as it is now 20 years old, but I doubt things have changed much. If so, someone can correct me.
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Old 03-30-2017, 08:51 PM
 
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There's no more cocktail bars. If you want to enjoy an adult beverage, you've got to huddle in your cabin with a bottle of Bordeaux hoping you can get a couple sips in while the rest sloshes out of your plastic cup as the vessel reel from side to side -- I only know that because someone told me though. It might still say on their website that they have bars, but it's outdated. Maybe they'll open one back up during the summer, idk, but it's doubtful. Even for those who don't drink alcohol, the bars offered a place to be free of the throngs of screaming children who infest every freaking ferry from here to....

Definitely get a cabin. The food pretty much sucks on the ferry, so consider bringing what you can.

Whether the scenery will be visible or not is anyone's guess.

If you do decide on the ferry, make your reservations as soon as your travel plans are solidified. Cabins in particular fill up fast during the summer months.

In your place, I'd do the drive to Haines or just fly both ways.

Last edited by Metlakatla; 03-30-2017 at 09:05 PM..
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:11 PM
 
661 posts, read 584,630 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldeneagle View Post
1) My ideal would be able to take a one-way cruise from Vancouver up to Juneau or another SE Alaska port, then fly back home when we are done. Based on the research I've done, however, there are no one-way cruises that end in SE Alaska -- they all seem to continue up to the Anchorage area, which we don't want to do. If anyone has any information otherwise, I would love to know...
Could you take a round trip cruise from Seattle to Juneau and just get off at Juneau (let the crew know, of course)?
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
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An option would be take the ferry from Bellingham to Juneau then when ready to head to Glacier Bay take ether the ferry or fly Alaska Airlines to Gustavus. Then you can fly home from Gustavus on Alaska Airlines.


Staterooms on the ferry sell out quick during the summer. I would not wait much longer to book a cabin if you decide to go this route. You will need to play around on both the Alaska Marine Highway and Alaska Airlines websites to see if you can piece something together that works for you. Or you can have a travel agent do it for you.


One last thing...If you do book the ferry from Bellingham to Juneau and it is on the ferry Columbia I would contact the Alaska Marine Highway and request that they do not put you in staterooms 109 thru 124. There is an outside walkway that goes past these rooms. You will have people standing outside smoking and looking in your window all day.
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:08 AM
 
Location: SE Alaska
1,939 posts, read 872,509 times
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Flying one way and ferrying the other is a great way to go.

Also, if you have the time, driving one way and taking the ferry back could also be nice. Banff and Jasper are must sees, if you haven't already.

The ferry route from Haines/Skagway to Juneau provides spectacular scenery, superior to Juneau southward through the inside passage in my opinion.

June is my favorite month, and one of the driest. No guarantees though-it could be overcast and rainy.
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Old 03-31-2017, 02:44 PM
 
Location: sitka, Alaska
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Take the ferry! The inside passage is a smooth ride and there is never ending scenery. Always meet one or two cool folks on the ride it seems. A buddy and I use the ferry to shuttle boats back and forth from Juneau all the time. We bring food and drinks but the breakfasts are excellent. Its 11 hrs from Juneau to Sitka and its always a decent ride and different spots on the ferry to kick back and enjoy the ride! The Bellingham-Juneau ride is like 48 hours and relaxing. They got ice machines on the ferry if you bring a cooler, staterooms are ample. There washer/dryers on board too.
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Old 04-01-2017, 11:34 AM
 
1,623 posts, read 2,854,800 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldeneagle View Post
1) My ideal would be able to take a one-way cruise from Vancouver up to Juneau or another SE Alaska port, then fly back home when we are done. Based on the research I've done, however, there are no one-way cruises that end in SE Alaska -- they all seem to continue up to the Anchorage area, which we don't want to do. If anyone has any information otherwise, I would love to know...
This cruise is from Seattle to Juneau if you have a boat load of money and can adjust your timeframe.
https://www.uncruise.com/destination...y-fitness-yoga
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Old 04-01-2017, 05:14 PM
 
38 posts, read 45,298 times
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Thanks everyone, your replies were very helpful. I think we will take the ferry, we just need to pin down our dates ASAP at this point. Since that is the plan, I am wondering if it would be worth our time to stop at any of the Canadian ports along the way (Prince Rupert, Bella Coola). I think this would mean driving into
BC, boarding a BC ferry and then catching the Alaska ferry. Seems like a lot of trouble...

One more question regarding the ferry for those who have been and reserved a cabin: did you find that you had to jockey for position to get a good spot on deck with folks who were staked out camping? This is my only real concern at this point as I'd want to be able to enjoy being on deck during the day/when the weather is nice...

Thanks again for your help everyone.
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Old 04-01-2017, 07:02 PM
 
18,832 posts, read 24,079,531 times
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One thing I forgot -- take lost of hand sanitizer, and use it, as well as wash your hands, more often than you think you should have to. Norovirus is considered a malady of cruise ships, but I suspect it's even more rampant on the ferry because people are crammed together so much more.

You could also simply drive to Prince Rupert and catch it from there, I suppose.

Most people camp on the solarium; I don't think camping on the main decks are allowed. Personally, the camping and crowding ruins it anyway, but you may have stronger filters than I do.
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