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Travel Tip For Today

Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

Inside Passage:
The Alaska Marine Highway

Alaska

The "Blue Canoes"-ships of the Alaska Marine Highway fleets-are a familiar sight in southeast and south central Alaska. Each of the nine ships is modern, well-equipped and very efficiently run.

Your trip aboard the Marine Highway System begins at Skagway. I highly recommend boarding in Skagway, rather than Haines. Historic Skagway is a lot more fun, and the trip from Whitehorse to Skagway is one of the most sensational in the north. Haines, on the other hand, has little to recommend it-aside from the nation's largest congregation of bald eagles in late summer and fall-and the road between Haines and Haines Junction is one of the worst in the highway system.

At present, there are two northbound sailings per week from Seattle to Skagway, and two southbound sailings per week from Skagway to Seattle. If you wish to book a stateroom, it is imperative that you do so as early as possible (check web site for dates). However, should you find that the staterooms are all booked, you can request to be placed on the standby list. You have a good chance of getting a stateroom. They are very reasonably priced.

There are three classes of staterooms: family rooms, rooms suitable for just a couple, and men's and women's dormitory accommodations. Budget travelers frequently take deck space, a viable alternative as the upstairs solarium is mostly enclosed and fitted out with chaise lounges that lower to full reclining position, astroturf and heat lamps. The strategy, for those taking deck passage, is to be ready to board the ship as early as possible, make a dash for the solarium and stake out your chaise lounge. If you are not lucky enough to get a chaise lounge, be sure to have a mat to put down on the astroturf-covered deck. There is usually no problem in obtaining a deck passage ticket without a reservation; however, reservations are a good idea.

Meals in the restaurant, served cafeteria style, are generally very good. Fresh Alaskan seafood is featured. If you are on a budget, take a substantial picnic basket aboard and rely on the cafeteria for hot drinks and an occasional splurge.

You are allowed to take aboard as much as you can carry - officially, three pieces of luggage. You are also allowed to bring aboard, free of charge, a bicycle or a kayak, which you must carry on.

One big plus in traveling the Marine Highway system is the convivial atmosphere aboard. There are lots of impromptu card games, guitar playing and sing-alongs in the solarium, and a generally nice feeling. Each ship carries about 600 people.

Unfortunately, the price to transport your motor vehicle is high.

Cruising the Inside Passage

Ferries leave at different times depending upon stops and tides, so I can't suggest an exact schedule.

Stopovers are all too brief, most averaging 1-1/2 hours. The length of the stop will be announced as you enter port. Generally, buses or taxis meet each incoming ferry in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka to take passengers into town and bring them back. However, going into town is really only possible if the stop is for 1-1/2 hours or more. You may disembark from the ship completely and re-embark another day. You will be charged a point-to-point fee, which is only slightly higher than the through fare. Based on a morning departure from Skagway, the ferries stop at Haines about 1-1/2 hours later.

Upon departing Skagway, you cruise Lynn Canal, a very steep-sided fjord which terminates in Chilkoot Pass. The area flattens out as you approach Haines and the Chilkat River Valley. The area is noted for timber, fine fishing and, in the late summer and fall, many bald eagles.

The ferry stops in the afternoon of Day 19 in Auke Bay, Juneau, a densely forested area backed by the 5,000-foot peaks of the Boundary Range. Mendenhall Glacier sticks out from the vast Juneau ice field.

Featured Property

Blue Sky Lodge
Carmel Valley, CA
United States

Here at Blue Sky Lodge our specialty is providing you with modern, comfortable accommodations in a restful and relaxing atmosphere.

Contact Information

10 Flight Road
P.O. Box 233
Carmel Valley, California
United States
831-659-2256
Toll Free Reservations: 800-733-2160
Fax:831-659-1632
General Manager:Roger Gardner
Email:bslrg@redshift.com
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