The Northwest's five best ferry rides

For a ferry adventure, it's tough to beat the Northwest, with regular service between remote islands, up sparkling fjords, and along Alaska's famed Inside Passage

Washington State Ferry

A mini cruise for $2.35. Enjoy the scenery and watch for whales on the Washington State Ferry across Admiralty Inlet.

David Samuel

Ferry tales

For a ferry adventure, it's tough to beat the Northwest, with regular service between remote islands, up sparkling fjords, and along Alaska's famed Inside Passage. Here are our favorites. Summer is high season, so consider booking ahead for the longer voyages and plan to arrive at least a half-hour before sailing time. Except where noted, fares are one-way and all trips run year-round.

WILDEST RIDE

Washington State Ferries
Port Townsend to Keystone, WA.
FARE: Passengers $2.35, $1.15 ages 65 and over, $1.90 ages 6-17; vehicle and driver $10.30, $9.10 ages 65 and over.
INFO: www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries or 206/464-6400.

MOST SCENIC

Alaska Marine Highway
Bellingham, WA, to Skagway, AK. This 937-mile, three-day run up Alaska's Inside Passage is sometimes called the "poor man's cruise," and you'll see some of the same glaciers and fjords, humpback whales and orcas that the swanky liners pass. And you can book a stateroom or save cabin fare by camping out―pitch your tent right on deck. But unlike a cruise, you won't find spas, lots of shops, or fab cuisine; the ferry does have video game areas, a bar, and a kids' playroom. Dining is generally cafeteria-style and port stops are brief (or almost nil if the schedule changes). But you meet a colorful, more varied lot than you might on a cruise.
FARE: $352 per passenger; staterooms (in addition to passenger fare) from $297 (ask about rates for seniors, vehicles, bikes).
INFO: www.ferryalaska.com or 800/642-0066.

 

 

BEST CITYSCAPE VIEW

Washington State Ferries
Seattle to Bremerton, WA. You cruise past Bainbridge Island and into Rich Passage before docking in downtown Bremerton next to some classic U.S. Navy vessels. Roam the island a bit, then time your eastbound return across Puget Sound for dusk―the sun setting over the Olympics turns Seattle skyscrapers into molten gold. The one-hour trip runs daily.
FARE: Passengers (round-trip) $6.10, $3 ages 65 and over, $4.90 ages 5-17; vehicle and driver $13.30, $11.75 ages 65 and over.
INFO: www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries or 206/464-6400.

BEST WILDLIFE VIEWING

B.C. Ferries
Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, B.C. The perfect way to do a Victoria day trip from Vancouver, B.C., the 95-minute run takes you through Active Pass and past Southern Gulf Islands. Aim for trips departing on the odd hour, which use the sleek new Spirit Class vessels, with observation decks and a stylish buffet. Avoid the day's busy 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. runs. Look for seals and killer whales; said one regular, "Our departure was delayed because a whale pod was swimming past the stern of the vessel."
FARE: Passengers $10.50, $4.21 ages 5-11; vehicles from $28.
INFO: www.bcferries.com, 888/223-3779, or 250/386-3431.

 

 

BEST RAIL/SAIL TRIP

Chilkat Cruises & Tours
Haines to Skagway, AK. Zip over the waters of Lynn Canal between these two southeastern Alaska port towns. It's a breathtaking 35-minute voyage 14 miles through a dramatic fjord. You ride in a 150-passenger jet catamaran with an enclosed, heated deck, but the best views are from the open upper deck. Don't miss the onboard naturalist, who knows area history and stories of the Tlingit peoples. A combination trip includes a ride on the White Pass steam train. Trips daily May 23-Sep 15.
FARE: $25, $13 ages 12 and under. Combo trip with train from $105.
INFO: www.chilkatcruises.com, 888/766-2103, or 907/766-2100.

Printed from:
http://www.sunset.com/travel/northwest/the-northwests-five-best-ferry-rides-00400000017556/