Saturday, June 11, 2016

On to Ketchikan–Alaska Marine Highway

Being on vacation from our vacation was fun but it was nearly over.  The last leg of it would probably be the most relaxing part.  We were zonked but looking forward to our final ride down the Alaska Marine Highway.  The clouds had rolled back into Haines and rain was threatening.  However, we didn’t figure it would matter much because the rest of our journey would be mostly inside.


We were surprised how nice the first ferry was.  It wasn’t the bigger one with cabins for the over night trip but it was pretty nice and pretty comfortable.  We were on the first ferry for about  2 1/2 hours.  The great part about being in a large ferry on protected water is you don't even feel like you're moving.  There's not even as much sensation as a car ride -- impossible to get sea sick according to the captain.


We had intermittent clouds, intermittent rain and intermittent blue skies along the route into Juneau.


Our next ferry was there waiting for us and so was our stateroom (as they called it).


There weren’t a lot of people on this ferry but they were gearing up for the one that would be heading back up north.  It would be filled to capacity with lots of kids.

There were several different lounge areas in the ferry.  The front lounge area was the most popular because of the view .. even though there wasn’t a lot to see some of the time.


Well, it was the most popular unless you were hungry.  The cafeteria was open nearly all of the time with specials for breakfast lunch and dinner.  The dinner special was fresh, grilled Alaskan salmon.  Guess what I had?


There wasn’t much to take pictures of as we steadily went through the water toward Ketchikan.  We did see a couple humpback whales and this iceberg that had broken off. 

The ferry was scheduled for a couple stops.  The first one was at 1AM.  We didn’t bother checking that one out.  However, the second stop was at 5 AM and I was already up.  It was the little town of Wrangell.

I loved the long daylight hours.  Actually Washington state has long daylight hours during the summer too but this part of Alaska was even better with about an extra 1 3/4 hours longer.

0Juneau_26 0Juneau_23

We had rain and clouds most of the way.  However, as we got closer to Ketchikan we started seeing more and more blue skies but, of course, they didn't hang around as long as we wanted.

The first thing we noticed were all the cruise ships.  Three were at the docks and two were anchored off shore.  Usually the maximum in this town at one time is four.  We were told five ships at the same time only happens a couple times a year.  Well, as our luck would have it, we just happened to arrive when five were there  ... NOT.  Our cab drive told us there were an extra 11,188 folks in town when we arrived.  

Can you imagine traveling from port to port with all the crowds?  It’s not that we haven’t been on cruise ships.  We’ve been on quite a few cruises but in smaller ships. 

We didn’t have a lot planned for Ketchikan.  After all, we were coming in late, still needed to get to the hotel and 0Juneau_49checked in.  We had hoped to book the late tour of the boat that was on Deadliest Catch.  However, we were told standby was only available if not full after offered to cruise ship passengers.  With five big ships in town we were not even going to pursue that.  The good thing was that as we were arriving many of the passengers were already heading back to the ship to get ready for departure.  We know that because we saw the long lines boarding the ships.  Others continued last minute shopping and snacking.

The same “stuff” was selling on the streets of Ketchikan that was selling in Juneau by the cruise docks and in Skagway.  Same stuff, same price and the shops were packed.  There was a Smoked Salmon market that had boxes of smoked and canned salmon.  I was hoping more for the fresh salmon off the docks.  We just didn’t have the time in town to find it.  Hate not having a vehicle.



I booked the Gilmore Hotel in Ketchikan.  It was an older historical hotel right in the center of town.

Terry wasn't thrilled with my choice.  It wasn't just the no elevator and 3 flights of stairs (19 steps each floor) because we do pack light.  The room had been remodeled but still had peeling paint, patches in the wall plus a few other quirks.


I thought the Gilmore Hotel charming.  It reminded me of some quaint places we had stayed in Europe.  Terry didn’t think it was so charming.  Location couldn’t have been better as it was in the middle of everything.

I decided to take a picture of these bears since we didn’t see any real ones.

We were surprised at the cruise ship passengers that were packed into some of the seafood places.  The Fish House was one with long lines but there were a couple more in the same area advertising salmon, halibut and cracked crab.  Seafood was very expensive.  Heck, food was expensive.  Thank goodness I like salad.

All five ships started pulling out of town around 5:00.  They were on to the next port.  New ships would soon be coming in but for now the stores were closed and restaurant choices few in the port / downtown area.



We had two great hotels on this journey and if we ever returned we would definitely stay at both of them.  We also had two that weren’t as great.  


It was cold, cold, cold as we waited outside the hotel for the taxi.  The sky was blue but the wind was blowing.  We were ready for warmer weather for sure.

The taxi ride from town to the airport drops you at the airport ferry.  It was a $6 ferry ride across the waterway to catch our plane. 

‘Tis life on the road or in the air.


  1. I can't believe how gorgeous the ferry is. I have never been on a cruise ship, but that ferry would be a cruise ship to me.
    We just mentioned how light it was out at 9:15 pm last night. Love it!
    Good grief.... extra 11,188 folks! What a mess.
    I think location is so important. I think the outside looks charming too!
    What a wonderful adventure you two had. Thanks for sharing all the great photos.

  2. Hmm the crowds, not for us that's for sure, but sure sounds like you had some fun times there.

  3. We have never taken a cruise or ridden a ferry. Oth sound nice!
    I especially love the pictures in this post...just beautiful Jeri! What an awesome adventure!

  4. We have so enjoyed your Alaskan trip. We had considered traveling by land but would reconsider going the way you did. Great pictures! Many were postcard perfect.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  5. The crowds, oh the crowds. The only way I like crowds is if I can just sit and watch them.

  6. lots of people, lots of cold... is what most will endure to see Alaska, welcome back

  7. Love your pictures but those crowds would do me in. Hopefully you're back to warmer weather.

  8. The scenery is great, but the tourists places are mostly just the same as everywhere else:)

  9. I don't do crowds, so glad you made it. Ketchikan is not that big so that is 4 ships too many. Now time to get back and plan your next adventure, vacation is over!

  10. I do believe the Marine Highway is part of the experience. We'll work a ferry or two into our trip also. Thanks for posting.

  11. Sounds like a wonderful time despite all the crowds.

  12. More ferries - so fun! I suppose the food on shore is part of the experience, but with all meals paid for on the ship, it seems strange that so many passengers were lined up to pay high prices to eat. It sounds like you'll be ready for the warmer summer "down here".

  13. I'm guessing you had a burger. Right? :cP

    I just get so mad at all those cruise ship passengers taking over every place that they stop. By the way, did I mention we did four cruises last year? ;c)

  14. As much as I adore ALASKA I could not live there. Not at my age anyway. Now I need warm summers and lush forests. 25 years in Norway has cured me of wet blustery summers. I am not a cruise person. I think it's boring to be on a ship for any extended time. Short ferry rides are OK. And I sure wouldn't want to be part of a huge crowd on a shore excursion.


Thanks for taking the time to comment.