Alaska Marine Highway
Marine Highway and Alaska State Ferry System
The Alaska Marine Highway calls several ports near Anchorage such as Whittier, Seward and Homer, and Valdez which are all connected to Anchorage by road and rail.
Ferry Scheduling and Reservation Service Information
The Alaska State Ferry System is divided into three different systems servicing three different areas: Southeast, Cross-Gulf and Southcentral/Southwest. These three systems are fully connected during the summer months, with limited Cross-Gulf sailings in the winter. If you are headed for Alaska from Bellingham, Washington or Prince Rupert, British Columbia via the Alaska Marine Highway, you will take the Southeast system, which stops at mainline Southeast Alaska port cities from Ketchikan to Skagway. Keep in mind that only two major Southeast communities are connected to the Alaska Highway: Haines, via the Haines Highway; and Skagway, via Klondike Highway 2.
The Southcentral/Southwest system serves coastal communities from Prince William Sound to the Aleutian Islands. With the exception of Cordova, Seldovia and Kodiak, Southcentral communities on the ferry system are also accessible by highway. These road-accessible ports are Valdez, Seward and Homer. Whittier is accessible to vehicles through the Anton Anderson tunnel. The tunnel has a schedule that accommodates both rail and vehicle traffic. Communities on the Southwest system are accessible only by ferry or air. Keep in mind that the state ferries are not cruise ships; they do not have beauty salons, deck games, and the like. The small stores on the larger ferries are open limited hours.
Food service varies from vessel to vessel. There's dining room service on the Columbia, Tustumena and the Bartlett. The Columbia also has a 24-hour snack bar. Cafeteria service is also available on all other ferries. Cocktail lounges on board the larger vessels are open from late morning to midnight. It's a good idea to bring your own snacks, books, games and toiletries, since these are not always available on board.
The ferry system has two seasons:
April 1 to September 30 and October 1 to March 31. Contact the Alaska Marine Highway office for all schedules, fares and information. Fares are normally reduced and crowds are virtually nonexistent during the fall/winter/spring seasons.
Reservations on all vessels are required and should be made as far in advance as possible to get the sailing dates you wish. Requests for space are accepted year-round and held until reservations open.
Reservation requests must include:
• Departure dates and ports of embarkation/debarkation
• Full names of all members of the party
• Ages of all passengers
• Width, height and overall length (including hitch if with trailer) or vehicles
• Mailing address and phone number
• Alternate dates in the event cabin or vehicle space is not available on your first choice
• Approximate date you will be leaving home
View here to find out more about the Alaska Marine Highway
Read our Alaska Marine Highway Highlights here