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Our trip to Alaska came to an end with a ride on the Alaska Marine Highway. We rode the ferry from Juneau to Prince Rupert, along the inside passage, along the same route as the cruise ships. I have heard this described as a poor man’s Alaska cruise. It was definitely more relaxed than a cruise, however when you include the price of a berth I’m not sure that it’s a whole lot cheaper!
The girls were super excited for the ferry. They impatiently waited for Randy to return our rental car and come back to the dock so we could get on.
We boarded the ferry in Juneau and were pleasantly surprised by our four-bunk berth. We had our own bathroom, and a little sitting area with a table.
We even managed to make a bunk-bed “room” so we could visit after bedtime without disturbing the girls.
There was also a pretty decent view looking out our window. Sadly we couldn’t go onto the deck outside our berth, however that also meant no one else could go out there, so our room was nice and private.
Our first evening was spent exploring the boat and eating dinner. If you really wanted to ride the ferry for cheap, you can forego the berth and sleep on a lounge chair! There’s a covered sundeck on the top floor with lounge chairs and heat lamps. There’s also lockers and showers. You can even set up a tent outside of the covered area.
If being outside doesn’t sound appealing, the movie lounge allows overnight sleeping too. It also has a bank of lockers and showers in the bathroom. There were a number of people curled up on the floor in sleeping bags. I almost felt antisocial being in a berth with just our family! I can’t imagine trying to get the girls to fall asleep in there at this age. Maybe when they’re older we’ll do it again and forego the berth.
Sadly we didn’t see any whales from the ferry. The scenery was still pretty spectacular and almost made up for it!
Most of the stops were short 30-45min stops to quickly unload, reload and move on. Ketchikan, our last stop, was a bit longer and we were able to get off the boat. We caught a taxi into town and spent about 3 hours exploring. At first glance it was incredibly similar to Juneau. Cruise ships lined the harbour and touristy shops lined the streets. It seemed to have a bit more character to me, and it quickly became my preference. Randy claims he liked Juneau better…we never agree on favourite cities!
Ketchikan has a small funicular/tram that costs $2 and takes you up the hill to Cape Fox Lodge.
We took the tram up the hill and had a coffee with a view! Well, I had a coffee and everyone else had Italian sodas.
We took the tram back down the hill and wandered around Creek Street. I think this was when I decided I was partial to Ketchikan. Creek street is so interesting. It’s cut into the side of the hill and along the creek, and made of walkways that connect shops built on stilts on the riverbank. Of course it’s full of tourist traps, but looking past that it’s got a really neat vibe. It likely helped that when we were there the streets weren’t full of cruise ship passengers!
The girls also decided to get along REALLY well during our time in Ketchikan. I know, it was only 3 hours, but some days they fought like crazy and some days they loved each other! We even had to stop for an impromptu sidewalk hug! They’re so cute sometimes!
We wanted some kind of salmon for our last Alaskan dinner, and the girls wanted Sushi. We found a little sushi joint. It was incredibly expensive, even by Alaska standards, but our last meal of King salmon sushi was pretty delicious. If only the girls didn’t pig out on sushi, they’d be a bit cheaper to take out. The table beside us ordered one roll for their 2 pre-teen girls to share. Meanwhile my girls have eaten half a dozen salmon sashimi, half a dozen tuna sashimi, a bowl of Edamame and a couple pieces of a roll EACH! I guess it’s healthy so I shouldn’t complain.
With bellies full of salmon we hailed a taxi and returned to the ferry. Calais was being a great big sister and led Kaisa down the walkway to the boat, making sure they didn’t step off the yellow.
We pulled away from Ketchikan for our last few hours on board. The dock was full of shipping containers. I guess when everything comes in and out via a big steel box on a boat, sushi (and everything else) is going to be a bit on the expensive side. My favourite is the trucks piled on top of the containers in the middle! I’m not sure how they got up there…or why.
Kaisa and I went for one last wander around the ship and said goodbye to Alaska.
Then we finished our trip off with one of our favourite things…popcorn. It definitely wasn’t the delicious butter-infused olive oil and truffle salt popcorn that we had in Bethel, but it was warm, and buttery, and did just fine for being on a boat.
Randy and I tucked the girls into bed, made up the bunkbed rooms (above) and enjoyed a bottle of wine while watching the sunset, reminiscing about past vacations…and looking forward to our future plans.
We climbed into bed for a few hours sleep before getting up and getting off the boat at 3am! The girls were troopers and settled into bed in our Prince Rupert hotel room about an hour later, after clearing customs, and one last taxi ride to the hotel.
Waking up in the morning Calais looked out the window to Tim Hortons and an RBC bank and exclaimed, “Yep, this is starting to look more like our world, we’re almost home”.
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