Across Southern British Columbia
We boarded a ferry in Juneau and headed for ports South. This included a few days layover in Sitka and then on to Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan and finally Prince Rupert, Canada. The Alaskan Marine Highway is the name of the ferry boat service that connects the towns and villages along the Eastern islands and peninsula of Alaska. This area is called the “Inside Passage”. It is a busy waterway that supports these ferries, cruise ships, shipping boats and personal boats. But it is a wide, large water highway in most places. There are no roads to access these communities, so all commerce, trade and travel is by boat or plane.
For our travel plan, this worked out well. We trimmed many driving miles off of the trip and transported ourselves, the van, the dogs in a comfortable and affordable way. It cost us about $800 to move the van, two humans and three dogs down the Inside Passage. That includes our accommodations on the boat.
The dogs were not allowed off the car deck, so they rode inside the van for the entire trip. We were given the opportunity to take them for a walk at each port (about every 6 hours) and check their food/water. Each ferry dock had a grassy pet walk area, and was close enough to a field or neighborhood that they got to stretch their legs. During that walk the ferry was offloading and loading new passengers and vehicles. Before you panic, please know that there is NOWHERE the dogs would rather be than inside the van. They have learned that it is their home, their dog house, their security box, the place their humans return to, whatever you want to call it….. they prefer to be in the van over any other location. So riding inside the van for 32 hours was okay with them. No accidents. No attitudes. But the best part was a new port city to smell every time the van doors opened and they put on their leashes.
While the dogs were hanging out down below, we were enjoying the comforts of the poor-mans cruise line. The boat (Matanuska) was fairly new, very clean and spacious. There were a variety of regions to hang out in. And the staff was friendly and helpful. Mostly we ate our own food, but what we did eat in the cafeteria was delicious and reasonably priced. But the fun part was that we rented a stateroom so we could sleep in a bed instead of a recliner and take long, hot showers!
The boat had an enclosed solarium area with plastic deck chairs and heaters. It had a room full of recliners and big screen TV’s showing great movies. The cafeteria had plenty of seating and windows! The stateroom was comfortable, quiet and private. There were children’s play areas and an adult’s only lounge. There were decks with the ocean breeze blowing across. And there were windows everywhere which showed the view of the islands, villages, towns and wide open oceans. We spotted seals, dolphins, whales and birds at various times during the trip.
Southern British Columbia
(suggestions are always welcome)