I chose the subject title deliberately because the 'purists' on this board may object to the term 'cruising'being applied to the ferry..
However I only wish to point out as I did in my other posting the fact that Alaska can be experienced in a different way by the Alaska Marine Highway out of Bellingham WA
This ride takes about 3 days to do the whole journey to Skagway with calls at Ketchikan-Wrangell-Petersburg-Juneau-Haines and Skagway.
The comforts of cruising cannot be found on the Ferry although there are a number of cabins!! one can pay for, but the majority of folk ride this water transport for both its scenic journey-through some of the most majestic canyons as in the Grenville Channel and the narrow parts of the journey as in the Wrangell narrows.
Unfortunately because of its schedule-most of the time-the hours at the ports of call are limited and dont afford the hours that the cruise ships allow their passengers to sight-see...
Also because this is often the only way that Alaskans can commute in the SE of Alaska-cars and RV's etc compete for the limited space in the ships.
This ride was my first experience of Alaska and wet my appetite to return time and again and focused my attention upon the routes and calls that I wished to make when booking on the cruise lines to Alaska.
I would recommend anyone 'seasoned' traveller or 'novice' to consider the Alaska Marine Highway for any or even part of your Alaska experience. They even have a cross Gulf service from Juneau to Seward..
And NO!!! I am not employed by any company in the travel business etc and post only with the object of widening the readers appreciation of Alaska.
I've signed up for the ferry leaving Bellingham going to Juneau in July. I'll than be in Alaska for a month backpacking.
I broke down and got a cabin. Unfortunately it is an inside cabin but I'm not going to be in it except to sleep.
I know the "Narrows" are interesting. Any other advice on what I should be looking for during the "cruise"? I'm really hoping to sea the widlife and the sea creatures.
I will not have a opportunity to explore the cities going up except for Juneau. I"m using this as a recon trip for next year where I will have time. I'm also going to time it to take the ferry all the way up to Seward and perhaps do the Aleutian chain.
If you are on the ferry that leaves Bellingham Friday night-then you may have toi stay up late to see Seymour Narrows-This is just past Campbell River on Vancouver Island.
Its a famous place where the tides ebb and flow quite fast-It is the site of the biggest explosion outside of a nuclear one in North America- There was once a gigantic rock in the middle of the narrows and was a great hazard to shipping until they decided to tunnel under the water and blow it up.
After this you go through some narrow parts until you reach Queen Charlotte Straits and then the ferry goes inland passing Bella Bella and such places. As I said before it also goes through Grenville Channel just south of Price Rupert.
Wrangell Narrows between Wrangell and Petersburg is also a great place to experience and if the ferry goes to Sitka-it also goes the inland way as opposed to the Ocean way,This is a great part of any trip.
Lynn Canal from Juneau to Skagway is very interesting passing Eldred Rock lighthouse just before stopping at Haines.
There are so many interesting things to see in the narrow parts of this ferry-ride that I cannot hope to do justice to them all.
You may have seen me refer to a book by Joe Upton- Its very interesting because it shows you mile by mile reference what to expect on the 1000 mile trip from Seattle to Skagway.It is different than the usual guide book because of this and points out famous landmarks etc on the journey.