"To Alaska's Inside Passage via ferry" Alaska by 6mirror

Alaska Travel Guide: 7,088 reviews and 15,592 photos

Affordable Alaska "cruise"!!!

This trip had nothing to do with time-share exchange, except for three hotel nights in Seattle traded for points, having arrived there by Amtrak train from home. The rest of the trip unfolded and was pieced together ourselves while researching and found travel and lodging not available via time-share.

From the Seattle hotel, we took a bus up to Bellingham, Washington, then boarded this ferry of the Alaska Marine Highway system for 2 nights in a surprisingly spacious cabin with a fabulous picture window port side and its own bathroom (!).

The ferry meandered through Canada's Inside Passage for 2 days and nights to its next stop (Ketchikan, Alaska), weaving close to the shores of the many islands with much to see and enjoy. It was like a no-frills cruise (meals not included), with a snack bar and a restaurant, a bar and lounge, a media room, library, gift shop, a large solarium, and a huge enclosed forward observation deck where Alaska State rangers and naturalists gave engaging lectures on the flora and fauna and geography we were passing.

Most amazingly, some passengers pitched tents on the covered but exposed aft decks or "rented" reclining lounge chairs in the solarium for sleeping bags. Some slept in their cars or campers. Others, like us, reserved cabins for a reasonable price per night.

Ketchikan, Alaska

The ferry goes all the way out to the far Aleutian Islands with many stops, but we got off in Ketchikan for 3 nights at this cosy B&B right on Ketchikan Creek. Since it was September, salmon were spawning so thick here that one could literally walk across the creek on their backs!

Where we stayed was at S&E Bed & Breakfast in the spacious, comfortable downstairs flat pictured here with its own deck and we were the only guests at the time. Sonny and Edie were marvelous hosts! They even took us to some their favorite out of the way places to see wildlife and gorgeous scenery, shared homemade chili, and recommended where to go (local favorites) and where NOT to go (too touristy).

This B&B is just a few minutes' walk along "Married Man Trail" to old historic Ketchikan. But our focus, while here, was mostly Native American, where we walked or took local buses to the Totem Center Museum, the salmon fishery, and the restored totem villages nearby.

Gustavus, Alaska

From Ketchikan, we flew to Juneau then hired a (very small!) charter plane to the remote town of Gustavus, near the mouth of Glacier Bay, and stayed four nights in this most wonderful Aimee's Guest House in the downstairs unit shown here, located on 10 acres of wildflower-studded meadow fringed with forest overlooking the Salmon River and Icy Strait.

Not enough can be said about Aimee, her beautiful B&B inside and out, her hospitality, her personally arranging memorable local tours for us (a Glacier Bay boat tour to the glaciers and two private kayaking tours), etc., etc.!!! The building itself was the former Salmon River Smokehouse, Gustavus? first ?fish foundry," and its furnishings and decor tastefully reflect its past.

At the time, the only way to access Gustavus was by private boat or plane, so remote it was from the usual tourist route (but now the Alaska Ferry stops there). The town is so small (about 300 year-round residents) that few cars are here. The main mode of transportation is bicycle or on foot which Aimee provided for us (bikes and wellington boots). We biked to the one grocery store for provisions during our stay and to other nearby places to hang out with the locals in this quaint, picturesque town.

As it happened, the day we arrived was the day Ted Kennedy passed away. Aimee invited us to a local "wake" that the very liberal and grieving townspeople hastily arranged at the nearby Gustavus Inn and we were made to feel right at home from the very start! I HIGHLY recommend Aimee's Guest House in Gustavus, Alaska!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fabulous experiences with very friendly locals
  • Cons:Rains a lot, but to be expected in rainforest
  • In a nutshell:One of the most memorable trips ever!
  • Last visit to Alaska: Sep 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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