Alaska Ferry Travel FAQ
Note: Individual Ferry Reservation Fee $20.00
FOOD AND BEVERAGE SERVICE
The Marine Highway System serves hot meals, snacks, and beverages on all vessels. The M/V Tustumena and the M/V Columbia also provide full-service dining rooms. Vending machines make a variety of foods and beverages available around the clock. The cafeteria menu includes Alaska seafood, hot meals, salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, juices, and snacks. Lounges serving alcoholic beverages are available on most vessels. Alcohol may be consumed only in staterooms or cocktail lounges by persons 21 years of age or older. Alcohol may not be consumed in public areas of the ship, including the solarium.
Cabins are available on the M/Vs COLUMBIA, MALASPINA, MATANUSKA and TAKU in the Southeast System, and the M/V TUSTUMENA serving the Southwest/Southcentral Systems, and are sold as a unit. Most cabins feature private bathroom facilities. Room service or daily makeup of cabins is not available. However, trash is collected daily and fresh linens are available on request. The M/V KENNICOTT has a limited number of Roomettes those rooms have only 2 berths, no linen and no toilet or wash basin. Sleeping bags are welcome in these rooms or bedding can be rented at the Purser's Office. Passengers without cabins will find a limited number of recliner chairs and spaces to roll out sleeping bags. Many adventurous travelers put up small tents on the deck. Pillows and blankets are available for rent on most sailings. All vessels except the M/V BARTLETT have public showers.
RV / MOTORHOMES
Please notify your agent if your vehicle is an RV or motor home. While the fares are usually the same as the standard rates these vehicles are reserved under a special code and because of their height may be assigned special "over-height" space on the ship. Passengers do not have access to the car deck while underway, so RVs and motor homes may not be used for dining and sleeping on the trip. Electrical hookups for vehicle refrigeration units are not available, and bottled gas containers on the RV must be turned off and sealed by a Marine Highway employee at the time of boarding.
Wildlife experts from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are often on board to share information about the marine life, birds, plants, and other wildlife you encounter on your journey. On some vessels serving the Inside Passage route, artists, musicians, storytellers and performers are scheduled to entertain guests during the voyage. Many vessels have a theater area and show scheduled films and documentaries on Alaska and the outdoors. Our gift shops sell magazines, books, and Alaskan souvenirs. In addition, some of the vessels have a small video game arcade, card room, reading room and toddler play area.
Foot passengers may bring hand luggage only, with weight up to 100 pounds total. To help passengers get their hand luggage on board, baggage carts are driven from the terminal to the car deck. No baggage carts are available on the M/V TUSTUMENA. Passengers are responsible for the handling and safety of their luggage. Baggage handling is not provided and the State is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged baggage. There is no weight limit on luggage carried in or on a vehicle. Coin-operated storage lockers are available aboard most ships for storage of small hand-carried items. Unaccompanied baggage is not allowed on board Alaska Marine Highway vessels. It is considered freight and must be shipped via commercial carrier or U.S. mail.
Pets are allowed on-board, but there are restrictions. The animal's owner or attendant must possess a current health certificate for the animal (issued within 30 days of travel) in order to transport it through Canada or into Alaska. The transportation of birds is regulated. Contact U.S. and Canadian Customs for requirements. Dogs, cats, and other household pets are charged $25 to/from Bellingham, and $10 to/from Prince Rupert. There is no charge for a certified service animal traveling with a disabled person. Animals not in vehicles must be in suitable containers (not provided by the State), must be cared for by the owner, and must remain on the car deck (except certified service animals). Owners may attend to their pets needs on the car deck only while vessels are in port. Due to U.S. Coast Guard regulations, passengers are not allowed on the car deck while vessels are underway unless accompanied by a Marine Highway employee. Accompanied pet calls are announced approximately three times a day by the purser between Bellingham and Ketchikan. For information regarding transportation of larger animals such as horses or cattle, please ask your reservation agent.
Any vehicle that may be driven or towed legally on the highway may be transported. Vehicle fares are determined by the vehicle's overall length and width. Vehicles 8-1/2 to 9 feet wide will be charged approximately 125% of the listed fare. Vehicles over 9 feet wide will be charged approximately 150% of the fare listed for the vehicle length. If you are towing a vehicle, the overall connected length is used to determine fares. Unlimited access to the car deck is prohibited while the vessel is underway. Crew-escorted trips to the car deck provided during longer voyages. You also have access to your vehicle while the vessel is in port.
All motorcycles must be fully secured on the car deck using the appropriate tie-downs. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure this is completed properly. Rope may be obtained from car deck personnel for lashing purposes. Motorcycles without sidecars or trailers will be charged at the 5 ft. motorcycle rate. Otherwise, the overall length vehicle rate applies.
BICYCLES, KAYAKS, OR INFLATABLE
Bicycles, kayaks, and very small boats (under 100 lbs), will be charged at the "Alternate Means of Conveyance" rate. If the boat exceeds 100 pounds, it will be charged at the "Vehicles to 10 feet" rate. Larger boats must be on a trailer and will be charged the appropriate vehicle rate by length.
During the summer, reserved vehicles are required to check in at the terminal prior to posted vessel departures as follows:
Bellingham and Prince Rupert: 3 Hours
Skagway, Haines, Juneau, and Ketchikan: 2 Hours
Petersburg 1.5 Hours
Homer, Seward and Kodiak: 2 Hours
Sitka: Call 907.747.8737 1 Hour before the arrival time listed in the schedule
All other ports: 1 Hour
Lengthy check-in times are needed so that the vehicles can be arranged in the boarding lanes for safe and efficient loading. Passengers with vehicles who do not arrive on time may find that their reserved space has been given to someone waiting on the standby list. It is suggested that passengers without vehicles check in early. AMH suggests the following: Bellingham two hours prior to departure, and 1 hour before departure at all other ports. Local knowledge has shown that ticketed walk-ons boarding 15 minutes before departure rarely have problems.
Using the Alaska Ferry System sometimes involves crossing international borders between the U.S. and Canada. Passengers boarding ferries to or from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada require U.S. or Canadian Customs clearance before entering the country. Passengers traveling north of Skagway will encounter an International borders as will travelers on the Haines Highway. If you have had a DWI (DUI) or other legal problemwhich may prevent you from entering Canada from the US, we suggest that you obtain permission to enter Canada prior to your arrival. We suggest that you contact the Canadian Immigration Service to obtain a Visa to enter Canada in advance of your arrival at the border. You will need to apply for the Visa at the nearest Canadian Consulate Office to your home. The final authority for granting admission into Canada is Canadian Customs. Should you have any questions regarding your status, please contact CanadianCustoms in Prince Rupert British Columbia (Pacific Time Zone) by calling 250-627-3003. The alternatives are probably limited to flying to/from Anchorage or departing to/from Bellingham for access to the Inside Passage If you live in the U.S. and will be traveling through Canada in connection with your ferry trip you will not need a passport or visa. Foreign visitors to the U.S. or Canada should be aware of the visa requirements pertaining to your home country. Should you have any doubt, feel free to e-mail us with particulars describing your situation
Native-born citizens (adults, children and infants) should carry a birth certificate together with photo identification or a Passport. Driver's licenses alone are not proof of citizenship.
U.S. residents who are not citizens should carry their Alien Registration Registration Card.
Canada Customs officials will require travelers to show proof of sufficient funds for the trip. Motorists may be asked to show their vehicle registration card or proof of title and liability insurance coverage.
Permanent residents of Canada who are not Canadian citizens should have their Landed Immigrant Visa.