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INDEPENDENT ALASKA TRAVEL


Dear Alaskan enthusiasts:

The 2015 Alaska Ferry schedule will soon be announced.

The beauty of the Alaska Marine Highway is its versatility.  Ferries connect every town:  Schedule permitting--you can see everything.

Ketchikan to Sitka must be one of the world’s most scenic water trips.   The route transits both the Wrangell Narrows and Peril Strait-narrow passages of water between mountains rising 5000 feet.

The Taku makes this trip every week.  Built in 1963 she’s 352 feet long.  She has 44 two and four berth cabins and plenty of space for cars.  There are comfortable lounges and ample-walk around-decks.  There’s on outdoor heated covered solarium for the campers.    A cafeteria serves good food.  Although an old ship, the Taku is well kept and immaculately clean.   Here’s a short report of the trip:

By late September most of the summer visitors have headed home, so Alaska Airlines flight 65 from Seattle to Ketchikan had just 34 passengers aboard.  I’d intended to arrive in Ketchikan by 9 am to board the ferry at noon but weather caused us to divert to Wrangell.  Since the ferry was headed there anyway it was no problem.

(If you haven’t lived there, it’s difficult to explain transportation in Southeast Alaska—there are no roads and the weather is always a factor.)

After a rainy day spent in Wrangell I boarded the Taku and went up for dinner in the cafeteria.  Rock Cod with garlic-ginger sauce was $14.95, and delicious.  (The Alaska Ferry allows no tipping.) 

The ambiance aboard the Taku is pleasant, casual and unhurried.  Announcements are minimal.  No background noise or music assaults you.  Evenings are free for walking the deck and spotting wildlife or sea life.

My cabin had twin bunk beds, a full bath with shower, a window and ample space for luggage. 

After the Wrangell Narrows, the Taku makes a stop in Petersburg then, in the middle of the night, at the village of Kake.   

A crewmember on deck informed me, while transiting the 22-mile transit Wrangell Narrows the Taku makes 37 turns.  All hands are required to be on deck since land is no more than a stone’s throw from the ship.  (This must rank as one of the world’s most challenging ocean passages.) 


 

If you go:

Bring binoculars, an umbrella, waterproof comfortable shoes.  You can join the Taku in Ketchikan and continue on to Juneau if you prefer.  Here’s a timetable:

Day 1
Ketchikan-depart 12 noon
Wrangell—Arrive 6 pm-depart 6:45 pm
Petersburg—Arrive 9:45 pm-depart 10:30 pm

Day 2
Kake-Arrive 3 am—very short stop
Sitka-Arrive 11:00 am depart 2:45 pm
Juneau-Arrive 11 pm

Cost:  $83 per person Ketchikan to Sitka

2 berth outside cabin:  $89
(2014 prices)

The ferry operates all year.  It’s less crowded in fall/winter and every bit as spectacular.

Colors along the Inside Passage are all from classic Japanese painting:  Silver, green, gray, stone.  Mountains rise up through clouds.  Eagles soar overhead.

After breakfast (scrambled eggs, with mushrooms, cheese and ham--$8.75) The Taku makes a sharp left turn and enters Peril Strait.  Again the watchmen arrive on deck as the ship threads through the narrow waters.    There seem to be more Bald Eagles here.

The Taku comes alongside the Sitka pier on time at and the shuttle bus waiting runs you into town for $5.   The Totem Heritage Park—a short walk from downtown--is an outstanding place to visit.

 

Chip Waterbury
AlaskaPass Inc.


Call us at 800-248-7598 or use the new, faster travel request form on our website for more information.

 

 

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