The Alaska Marine Highway System operates stateroom-equipped vehicle and passenger ferries from Bellingham, Washington, and from Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Popular among budget-minded travelers and those seeking an alternative to cruise-ship travel, the ferry system allows passengers to create their own itineraries. In Southeast the vessels call at Metlakatla, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Kake, Sitka, Angoon, Tenakee, Hoonah, Juneau, Gustavus, Pelican, Haines, Skagway, and Yakutat—and it's possible to take the ferry all the way to Southcentral and Southwest Alaska.
In summer, ferry staterooms sell out before sailing time; reserve months ahead. There are common areas on the ferries where you can throw a sleeping bag or sit in a recliner seat.
If you are planning to take a car on the ferry, early reservations for vehicle space are also highly recommended. This is particularly true for recreational vehicles. Ferry travel is also an ideal way for bicyclists to hop from town to town. There is a fee of $15 to $50 (depending on your route) to bring a bicycle aboard. A separate ferry, operated by the Inter-Island Ferry Authority, runs between Ketchikan and Hollis (on Prince of Wales Island).
Alaska Marine Highway. 907/465–3941; 800/642–0066; www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs.
B.C. Ferries. 250/381–1401; 888/223–3779; www.bcferries.com.
Inter-Island Ferry Authority. 907/225–4848; 866/308–4848; www.interislandferry.com.