First time to Alaska

Old May 25th, 2016, 11:04 AM
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First time to Alaska

My wife and I would like to take a land and water tour in early September taking in the scenic inside passage route and a lot of hiking on the land portion. Start in Bellingham and end up in Denali. My idea is to board the Ferry in Bellingham to Whittier so as to get on the train from Anchorage to Denali etc.

Can you get on and off the ferry easily along the way? paying from port to port? Is it convenient to get all the way to Whittier or are there limited options? If not easy to get to Whittier how does one get to Anchorage from the ferry system? Any basic wisdom will be appreciated. Thank you
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Old May 25th, 2016, 11:34 AM
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Here's a good site for information: https://www.ferrytravel.com/bellingham.htm
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Old May 25th, 2016, 01:20 PM
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Next Tuesday my DW and I are flying from SEA to ANC and renting a car. We are going to Denali entrance and then riding the shuttle bus.
We intend to see the parts of Alaska we want to see without relying on a ferryboat schedule.
If we do go on a boat, it will probably be from Homer.
Check my profile for the Alaska trip.
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Old May 25th, 2016, 02:22 PM
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Hi tomfuller, I read your itinerary, and I am exhausted. In August we will fly to Anchorage for visits to Denali NP and the Kenai Peninsula. I look forward to learning how things go with you.

HTtY
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Old May 25th, 2016, 02:28 PM
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Though a possibly a very rewarding experience you are embarking on a travel method that takes time and patience to review/set-up.

The best source for reviewing ferry travel between the lower 48 is the state of AK's web site for their ferries. See:
http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/

nuts & bolts...
- you can book a trip from Bellingham to Whittier. Depending on your desired dates of travel the journey will take 4.5 - 5.5 days. This would allow you to hop of the ferry for short periods of time as it stops at each of the ports on its route.
- if you want to stop at certain ports for more than a couple hours (e.g. for a day or two to actually see a community), then you would actually book travel from port to port. The ferries don't run on an everyday schedule, so this can make the journey quite a bit longer (& pricier).
- You can fly to Anchorage from many of the ports along the way or you can get all the way to Whittier. Your choice.


You'll want a map out to help you visualize where the places along the inside passage are.

I hope this helps to get you started with your research
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Old May 25th, 2016, 04:48 PM
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While the ferry sounds attractive, it's not easy to treat it as a hop-on-hop-off service. Depending on your detailed plans, I'd strongly recommend phoning the AMHS for actual pricing; you might find yourselves paying a LOT for the ferry. And note sdpryde's comments - the ferry schedules are set according to what works for the ferry service rather than tourists, and you might find yourselves put ashore in the middle of the night, or, in the case of Juneau, far from town.

Three other things. First, all things considered, the ferry is often more expensive than a conventional cruise ship. Everything on the cruise ship is inclusive; it's a la carte on the ferry. You might want to look at a north- or southbound one-way cruise (Whittier or Seward to/from Vancouver) just for comparison's sake. Not saying you should take a cruise, only suggesting you look at it.

Second, the Gulf of Alaska is very big water and the ferries are rather small. 'Nuff said.

Third, depending on how long you spend heading north, you might be too late for Denali. Autumn and winter come quite early. Frankly I'd probably investigate doing the trip in reverse - fly to Anchorage and visit Denali, then fly to Juneau and pick up the ferry southbound there. If you wanted to spend some extra time in Juneau to allow for taking the ferry up to Skagway or maybe to one of the small communities using the "feeder" ferries out of Juneau, say Pelican or Tenakee, that would probably be better than crossing the Gulf.
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