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Alaska Ferry Space Very Tight for Summer 2024

While the vehicle space on the Alaska Ferries from Bellingham Washington and headed north through the Inside Passage Port Islands of Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka Juneau, Haines, are sold out until August 2024.

Alaska Ferry Travelers Need To Be Flexible

A Month of Changes for Alaska Marine Ferry Travellers


As one ferry after another in the Alaska Marine fleet experiences mechanical issues and is pulled from service, the impact on state visitors, seasonal workers, tour operators, accommodation owners and tourist reliant businesses, is devastating.


When the ferries don’t operate as scheduled because they are unexpectedly either sent into or delayed exiting dry dock, entry to Alaska is severely compromised. The ripple effect, particularly to the inside Passage Islands of Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka and Juneau, is economically disastrous. 


Earlier this spring the MV Columbia which is the largest vessel in the Alaska fleet and which was fully booked between Bellingham and Haines for much of the 2024 summer was pulled from service with unexpected mechanical issues.


The Kennicott was moved in to take over the route but sadly she has neither the same type or number of cabins, nor does she have the same vehicle capacity as the larger MV Columbia.

Many travellers who had made summer reservations & had set their holiday plans months in advance were disappointed as they lost their reservations.  


While the state provides refunds for any cancelled sailings, the consistent inconsistancy of the Alaska ferry sailings means that those planning a trip on any ship in the Alaska Marine fleet, should always, absolutely always carry trip cancellation insurance to protect against unexpected transportation changes.


When the ferry from Bellingham is full until August, as is the case this year, the only access to the Inside Passage Islands is either by plane or if taking a vehicle, by barge.
Barges travel from Seattle 2x a week and can be booked through www.ferrytravel.com ...... but barges are only for vehicles - no passengers, so one must fly to their destination to meet their vehicle.  


For current information on the Alaska Ferries, Barge transportation to and from Alaska, or help in planning an Alaska trip, either e-mail info@ferrytravel.com  or call 1-800-686-0446.

BC Ferries Lead The Way For Coastal Ferry Operators

Forward Thinking Ferry Operators Ordering Electric - Hybred Ferries

BC Ferries received 6 Island Class Hybrid ferries in 2023 & have now ordered an additional 4 to compliment their fleet. The anticipated starting date for the newest ships will be 2027.

Currently the Island class ferries which arrived in 2023 serve the following routes: Cambell  River - Quadra Island; Nanaimo - Gabriola; Powell River - Texada and Port McNeill - Alert Bay - Sontula

The new vessels enabled BC Ferries to not only increase daily sailings on some routes, but more importantly, the vessels can be switched around so if one unexpectedly goes into dry-dock another is quickly and efficiently able move in to ensure the scheduled sailings are not interrupted, and passenger service is not negatively impacted. 

The Island class vessels are double ended; are able to transport approximately 47 vehicles; have dedicated bicycle accommodation and provide 390 - 450 passengers with both indoor and outdoor lounging areas & bathrooms facilities. 

Planning is already underway by BC Ferries to replace the major route Spirit vessels currently serving Vancouver - Victoria , Vancouver - Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast to Vancouver with Hybrid - electric ships by the start of 2029.  
The mainland vessels under discussion are anticipated to be comparable in size to the current Spirit ferries and the BC Ferry Board is expected to make a decision this summer on the mainland ferry replacement proposals. 

The anticipated saving, both in terms of negative environment impact and operational costs is expected to be significant. 
The Maine Department of Transport in the USA is for example using a hybrid- electric vessel on the 20 minute Lincolnville - Isleboro route & they anticipate yearly fuel costs will be cut by some 100,000 gallons.

BC Ferries say the newest ferries are all about trying to ensure the best possible service coupled with the most positive economic and environmental outcomes.



Reservations for Ferries & Barges Made Easy

The FerryTraveller Site is Focused On Ferry & Barge Tansportation

www.ferrytravel.com is not about where to stay, what to do, or the tours available in ones destination of choice. 

 For the most helpful information on that area of travel planning, ones local AAA or BCAA office is better informed, and can be the most insightful.

This site, "The FerryTraveller" was created to help anyone planning to use the ferries operating in Alaska, Washington and in Northern BC to quickly, easily and securely get the transportation information that will get them them into, out of and around Alaska, BC & Washington State, by sea.

While the site provides details on each port stop, that information is included mainly to help 1st time travellers taking a ferry or using a barge, decide which ports may be of interest.

The very best information on the tours, accommodations and things to see throughout Alaska can be found in a detailed book called "The Milepost."

The book covers Alaska ...mile by mile.. gas stations, restaurants, campgrounds, shops, galleries .. in short, everything mile by mile, that a visitor to the State might want to know. It's popularity as a worthwhile "travelling companion" is absolutely justified.



Ferry Reservation Changes To & From Bellingham

Mechanical Repairs Force Massive Alaska Ferry Sailing Changes This Summer

Mechanical issues forced the sudden removal of Alaskas largest ferry for what is expected to be the balance of the 2024 high season.   Replacing the MV Columbia will be the smaller and less well appointed MV Kennicott. 

The Kennicott will travel the Inside passage between Bellingham & Skagway maintaining the regular stops at Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Skagway before turning around to work her way back to Bellingham. 

Because the Kennicott is however a smaller ship, numerous passengers holding previously made reservations on the Columbia were, or are in the process of being offered different accommodations and in some cases, depending on when their reservations were originally made, alternate sailing dates. 

The Alaska Marine ferry system has continued to suffer unexpected ship & schedule changes as they work to keep an aging fleet in top condition.    And the issue of ferry maintenance is not restricted to Alaska. 
Both BC Ferries and Washington State Ferries have experienced the same challenging aging fleet issues. 

For those people either departing from or headed to Alaska for work, or to report for duty at any of the Alaska military bases, an alternate to ferry travel or to driving through Canada, is to make use of the weekly barges between Alaska &  Seattle.

 nformation or reservations on barges can be done either through www.ferrytravel.com, emailing info@ferrytravel.com, or calling 1-800-686-0446.  
It is important when discussing barge transportation to first know the length, height and width of the vehicle being transported as the dimensions & destination dictate the tariff.




  



 

BC Ferries Schedules 20 Vessels for refit in 2024

BC Ferries Is Proactive in Maintaining Their Fleet

In making every effort to ensure BC Ferries passengers not suffer from sailing cancellations caused by unexpected ship breakdowns, the company has set out a schedule for the refit of 20 vessels during the next year.

Delivering a positive passenger experience is a priority of the BC ferry company.
With the recently signed contract to add 4 new hybrid-electric vessels to the fleet & a scheduled refit program for the current  ships, BC Ferries is looking  forward to less interruption and generally smoother sailing in the upcoming years.   

Alaska Marine Reschedules Bellingham - Alaska ferry schedules

Trouble Continues for the Alaska Ferry System


An aging fleet coupled with a shortage of crew, has seen the Alaska ferry service continue to offer diminishing service & higher fares.


The most recent news for the beleaguered Alaska Marine system is that the MV Columbia, the largest ferry in the Alaska fleet, has again been pulled from service due to mechanical issues.


The MV Columbia historically plies the Inside Passage waters heading north from Bellingham to Skagway and south from Skagway to Bellingham.

Travelling north, the Bellingham ferry makes weekly stops year-round at Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau & Haines before reversing to head back from Skagway to Bellingham. 


The MV Kennicott is being readied to replace the MV Columbia - but hundreds of not only holiday travellers & seasonal workers, but military personnel trying to PCS to & from one of the 5 military bases in Alaska, will now be inconvenienced as schedules are changed mid-season and staff try to rebook the already booked Columbia passengers, onto the smaller MV Kennicott.


A shortage of crew has seen the Alaska Marine ferry system cancel routes both across the Gulf (Bellingham to Whittier) and between Prince Rupert & Ketchikan for the whole of 2024.


The result of those cancellations means that to get a vehicle into Alaska travelling through Canada is unavoidable - unless sending a vehicle/s from Seattle by barge & then flying to the desired destination.

(When ferry service from Washington returns, passengers disembarking in Haines Alaska and driving to central Alaska, Denali etc on the ALCan Hwy will dip into Canada for a short time before returning to Alaska).


This means that not only are passports necessary for anyone over 18 yrs, but no one with a DUI, felony or carrying any type of prohibited weapons, can pass through Canada. 


The bright side of this dark cloud is that those moving to, or from Alaska, can make use of a weekly vehicle barge between Seattle and Alaska. 

Barges provided transportation to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau, Haines & Skagway as well as to Whittier, Anchorage & Fairbanks


Alaskabarge.com Bargealaska.com FerryTravel.com



Heavy Winds Cause BC Ferry Cancellations

Vancouver - Victoria Ferry Cancellations
In anticipation of heavy 70-90km winds BC Ferries has once again been forced cancel sailings between Vancouvers Tsawwassen terminal and Victorias' Swartz Bay Terminal.

For Monday March 11, 2024 the following sailings have been cancelled:
- from Tsawwassen, the  12:00pm & 4:00pm sailings 
- from Swartz Bay, the 2:00pm & 6:00pm sailings

BC Ferries Go Electric

BC Ferries Commit to Ordering 4 Hybrid Ferries

With the intention of standardizing their fleet, enhancing flexibility and enabling their vessels to interchange with one another, BC Ferries believes the additional Island Class  ships will create efficiencies that in the end not only enhance the bottom line, but prove more reliable.

The Hybrid ferries are expected to begin service between Nanaimo & Gabriola, Campbell River & Quadra Island in 2027. 

Rudder Issues cause BC Ferry Cancellations

Rudder Issues Cause Cancellations on the Queen of New Westminster

Several Vancouver - Victoria ferry departures scheduled for the Queen of New Westminster have now been cancelled.

The following sailings have been removed until the mechanical issue is fixed.

Thursday, Feb. 22  the following sailings are cancelled

From Tsawwassen  4:00pm &  From Swartz Bay 6:00pm 

Friday, Feb. 23 the following sailings are cancelled

From Tsawwassen  12:00pm & 4:00pm :  From Swartz Bay 2:00pm & 6:00pm 

Sunday, Feb. 25 the following sailings are cancelled

From Tsawwassen  12:00 PM & 4:00pm :  From Swartz Bay 2:00 PM & 6:00pm




BC Ferries Anticipates Heavy Demand From" Swifties"

Taylor Swift Is Coming To Vancouver BC & BC Ferries Is Preparing

In anticipation of increased demand from Islanders headed to the Taylor Swift concert which takes place on the 6, 7, and 8 of December 2024, BC Ferries will increased their Victoria to Vancouver schedule by 22 sailings

Additional round-trip sailings will be scheduled between Vancouver & Victoria on:
Thursday December 05, three sailings
Friday Dec 6, 2024  two additional sailings
Saturday December 7 , 2024 3 extrasailings
Sunday December 8, 2024 will see 2 added sailings
The sailing times for the added sailings will be posted as soon as they are confirmed

BC Ferries has also added a sailing at 11:55 PM Feb 21 2024, between Vancouver & Nanaimo to provide transportation for Islanders headed home from the Madonna concert in Vancouver 

Interesting Fact: When Taylor performed in Seattle during the summer, the increased seismic activity equaled a 2.3  magnitude earthquake. 
That's called popularity  !

Avoiding Canada to get to Alaska

Cross Gulf Sailings Cancelled Again in 2024

A shortage of crew has once again forced the 2024 cancellation of the Alaska ferry crossing between Bellingham & Whittier.
The cross-gulf route was the only way for travellers with vehicles headed to or from Alaska to avoid driving through Canada.  

Crossing the Canadian border requires all travellers over the age of 18 to have a valid passport and no felonies. 
Be aware that DUIs are considered a felony in Canada & may prevent entry into the country.
With respect to firearms, rifles and shotguns can be transported through the border on the way to/from Alaska however handguns are never permitted into Canada.
It is absolutely essential to advise customs officials if transporting any type of firearms and to ensure that the firearms are both locked and have empty barrels with clean barrels 

Until the Bellingham - Whittier route is reinstated by the Alaska ferry system, the only way to get vehicles into or out of Alaska without travelling through Canada, is by barge
Barges travel between Seattle and Anchorage / Fairbanks etc every week, year-round,  and provide an opportunity to transport vehicles  ( no passengers ) between the Lower 48 and Alaska without going through Canada.

Barges from Seattle also travel the Inside Passage stopping in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau, Haines & Skagway.  
Vehicles on barges can be packed with household items but must have no more that 1/4 tank of gas when loaded onto the barge.

For more information on barging call toll free 1-800-686-0446




A New Revenue Stream For The Ferries In Alaska ?

A Potential New Revenue Stream For The Ferries In Alaska ?

While Alaska State laws do not currently allow casino gambling, it has been suggested that there might be an opportunity for those Alaska ferries that travel 3 miles offshore, to skirt that law and to explore slot machine gambling as a new revenue stream.

After many years of not raising fares to keep pace with either fuel increases or inflation, the Alaska ferry system has found itself heavily in debt, totally underfunded, and due in part to the costly maintenance of an aging fleet, unable to provide the reliable ferry services expected by both the states' residents and visiting tourists.

A litany of events including heavy "catch-up" fare increases,  a short lived dynamic pricing policy,  the consistent delay in the release of each new seasons sailing schedules, all coupled with the peculiar decision to disconnect from the once broad international travel agency support, has 
combined to contribute to the
 beleaguered ferry system loosing ridership.

Would the introduction of slot machine gambling make up for lost ridership revenue by providing a worthwhile revenue stream?   
Would onboard gambling contribute to increasing tourist ridership?  
Would slot machines be enough of an entertainment enticement for resident Alaskans to pay the ferry ticket cost simply to play the slots?  
The Wasilla Republican Jesse Summer believes the answer to all those questions is Yes. 
And to that end Mr Summer has reintroduced HB 197 saying that the benefit to be derived from the taxes and gaming on the ferries could generate a new revenue stream of 20+million.    

Perhaps better odds might be achieved if the state simply released each seasons' schedules in a timely manner;  worked toward reinstating the popular Cross-Gulf and Prince Rupert ferry routes, and then began repairing their fractured relationship with travel agencies who, by being convinced to again promote exploring Alaska by ferry, could undoubtedly increase ridership.   



The Convenience Of Barging To or From Alaska

Barges: A Wonderful Alternative to Driving or Ferrying

Every week, year-round barges carrying vehicles ply their way between Washington and Alaska.  No Passengers - only vehicles.

Barges are reliable, easy to book and are a cost efficient transportation alternative to either driving or ferrying into or out of Alaska for a number of reasons.
1) Barges are not subject to cancellation because of crew shortages
2) Barges depart evey week, year-round
3) Barges serve most Inside Passage ports + Anchorage & Fairbanks
4) Barge prices are comparable to those of the Alaska ferries
5) Barging saves wear & tear on ones vehicle

A barge travelling between Anchorage or Fairbanks and Seattle typically takes between 2-1/2 to 3 weeks.
And for those PCSing or relocating, there are virtually no restrictions with respect to loading your vehicle.

To book, get a cost or simply see barge schedules, go to alaskabarge.com and enter into the Outward Route (departure port) where you are starting from. 
Choose "Barge from X  to Seattle" and continue on - this will deliver the dates, travel time and costs, but will not commit you to a booking, unless you choose to complete the form by entering your name etc
 

Two Popular Alaska Ferry Routes Cancelled

Cross Gulf to Anchorage + BC to Alaska Routes Cancelled for 2024

The Alaska ferry route between Bellingham & Whittier has once again been cancelled.
Alaska Marine advised on Jan 19th, 2024 that they are unable to service either the Cross-Gulf or the Prince Rupert to Alaska routes this summer due to a shortage of crew.

The 5 day cross-gulf ferry trip between Washington and Whittier had enabled travellers taking vehicles to/from Alaska to avoid travelling through Canada. 

Without the Bellingham - Whittier ferry, all visitors and residents travelling to/from the state must have a valid passport as the only current access into Alaska, (other than by air) will involve travelling through Canada. 

For those people moving to or from Alaska, barges are a great option. Barges can carry all vehicle types and run weekly year-round Seattle to Anchorage (& most other Alaska ports) but they do not take passengers.
( Visit alaskabarge.com for costs and sailing dates or call 1-800-686-0446).

While barging a vehicle is perfect for those moving to or from Alaska, the 2-3 week travel time means barges are not practical for those planning to visit the state for a short holiday.  

For any questions regarding travel to Alaska send an email to info@ferrytravel.com or call 1-800-686-0446 

Demand For BC Ferry Northern Routes Heavy

BC Ferries Showing Sold Out For Port Hardy to Prince Rupert

Overheight vehicle space is currently showing as "Sold Out" between early July and early August for vehicles either over 7' high or 20' long.
RVers & Camper drivers seeking to travel during that period should immediately forward  their needs to info@ferrytravel.com so that they can secure space on the standby list.
 The ferry sails in both directions between Port Hardy & Prince Rupert on the odd days in both July & August ( eg 1,3,5,7 etc).

Standby waitlists are filled in order of request receipts, but this far in advance stand a good chance of being successfully filled.

For more information or to get onto the waitlist, Call 1-800-686-0446 or email info@ferrytravel.com  
  

25% Off Seattle - Victoria ferry

Save 25% On Ferry Travel March 01 thru December 31 2024
The 25% off ferry special applies to all Seattle -Victoria ferry travel between 01 March 2024 & December 2024 providing the reservation has been made prior to February 29 2024 through toll free 1-800-686-0446.

The fast ferry travelling between downtown Seattle and downtown Victoria takes approximately 2-3/4 hrs and travels through the Salish Sea.
If lucky, passengers might see the resident orca pods J, K & L foraging for their preferred salmon diet.
Regardless of this lucky sighting, the "mini cruise" is a wonderful way to visit Victoria on Vancouver Island.

And don't forget to visit the world renowned Butchart Gardens located just 45 minutes from where the ferry docks. 
A bus dedicated to transporting visitors to the Gardens will meet the ferry and take passengers out to the Gardens and then return to the city in good time for passengers to reboard the ferry back to Seattle. 
(Butchart Gardens will be closed between January 22 and February 05)
 

BC Ferries Cancels Sailings Due To High Winds

Ferry Passenger Safety & Comfort A Priority
The high winds and waves resulting from an approaching Arctic Front & which caused sailing cancellations between Vancouver Islands' Tsawwassen Terminal and Victorias' Swarts Bay terminal yesterday, continue. 
 Gale force winds and predicted high tides have resulted in the cancellation of the 7:00am and 9:am sailings today.

The Clipper Seattle to Victoria ferry is still in dry dock for her annual maintenance check and is not expected to return to service until February 16th.

The Coho serving passengers travelling between Port Angeles and Victoria is also in Drydock until the 7th of February.

Seattle - Victoria Ferry Out of Service

High-Speed Seattle to Victoria Ferry Service Update

The annual drydock service to ensure the ferry between Seattle & Victoria is in perfect shape for the 2024 season, means there will be no ferry service between the two cities from Jan 08 until Feb 16.

Spring / summer schedules can be found, and reservations from Feb 16 onward, can be made by clicking here.

The fares shown on www.ferrytravel.com are standard fares which can be cancelled or changed.
Discounted fares, which are fares that can not be changed, cancelled or refunded are available through the call centre at 1-800-686-0446

Crew Shortage Impacts Whittier Sailings

Gross Gulf Ferry Crew Shortage

For the second year in a row, it now appears (but is not yet confirmed) that the Alaska ferry route from Bellingham to Whittier may not be included in the summer schedule due to a shortage of crew.

The cross-gulf Bellingham - Whittier sailing was not only one of the most popular,, but most important visitor and resident routes to Alaska, because it enabled those traveling to the state to avoid acquiring a passport. 

Passports are required when changing countries, and without the Whittier ferry route, travellers are forced to pass through Canada if either driving the Alcan Hwy*, or taking the ferry to Haines. 
There is only one road into the State of Alaska so there is no alternative to travelling through Canada except by plane.

Canada has strict laws that prohibit the entry of hand-guns, automatic & semi-automatic guns and anyone with a felony conviction. 
And in Canada, a DUI is considered a felony, so travellers either without a passport, or transporting "unlawful" weapons, or having a felony conviction, are limited to flying if they want to enter Alaska.

For anyone moving to or from Alaska, and facing an inability to enter Canada, barging a vehicle makes sense.  
Vehicles with household goods, including weapons (but with empty chambers) can be loaded onto weekly barges which travel to and from Seattle WA to such Alaska ports as Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan etc

Barging vehicles to Alaska is easy, quick and a service much used by the military as they PCS with their families to or from the 49th state. 

For more information call 1-800-686-0446 
* About 80% of the Alaska Highway is in Canada
 

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