HOW TO USE ALASKA STATE FERRIES
Alaska's state ferry system is a great way to travel the Inside Passage, Prince William Sound, and the Aleutians at reasonable prices. Ferries are the independant traveler's alternative to cruise ships. Here is how to use Alaska's ferries.
The first step to using Alaska's ferries is to go to www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/ . This is the official site of the Alaska Marine Highway, and it contains complete information on schedules and fares. Look up the schedule for ferries to your destination in your month of travel. Ferries do not run every day, so you need to co-ordinate your travel plans with the ferry schedule. Also, some boats are faster than others, so choose the boat that is best for you.
Once you know your sailing dates, call the Alaska Marine Highway at 800-642-0006 to make your reservation. They will e-mail you a voucher that you exchange for tickets at the terminal upon your departure.
Children under six ride free, and ages six to twelve are half price. There are also other specials and discounts.
On your day of departure, arrive at the ferry terminal one hour early. Terminals are usually located several miles from the port town. Hotels in Alaska often provide free shuttle service to and from the terminal. Make sure your hotel has a shuttle. This will save you money, because bus service from the terminals is sketchy and taxis are expensive.
Foot passengers proceed from the terminal to a covered gangway. Before boarding, they put their luggage on a wagon that is taken on the boat. On arrival, the luggage wagon is brought to the front of the terminal so passengers can retrieve their bags. There are fewer passengers and vehicles on Alaska's ferries than on ferries in the lower forty-eight, so boarding is relaxed and uncrowded.
The ferry boats have a cafeteria, and some have cabins. Best of all is the magnificent view from the sun deck!
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