A trip up the inside passage to Alaska is always spectacular; when the weather is good, the skies clear, and the seas calm, it’s as peaceful as a summer day on a remote lake. Even when the weather turns foul, there’s beauty to be found in the mist, and a sense of awe in watching churning waves and driving wind.
For all except those with a very temperamental stomach, the motion of the ship is rarely disturbing. When it’s time to sleep, the gentle vibration from the engines and rhythmic movement of the ship will cure all but the most stubborn insomnia.
Often times the vessels of the Alaska Marine Highway will cruise very near shore, making it possible to see details easily missed when traveling on larger cruise lines. I’ve made this trip over a dozen times, and during the summer and fall months have never failed to see numerous whales. Be sure to take advantage of the twilight hours, for as the sun drops lower towards the horizon the view becomes even more spectacular. The colors seem more saturated the shadows sharper; it makes for stunning photographs.
A few tips to make your experience as pleasant as possible: If your journey takes 2 or more nights try go get a stateroom. You’ll have a private shower, and a quiet place to just get away. If none are available, call early on the day of your departure, and ask to be put on the stateroom waitlist. In the summer, the phone line opens at 8:00 am, and a call at that time may put you first on the wait list. Once you board the vessel, go directly to the Purser’s desk, and again ask to be put on the wait list. This won’t guarantee you a stateroom, but will greatly increase the probability of getting one.
There are several alternatives to a stateroom, and one of the best is to camp out on the aft deck. Yes, you can pitch a tent on the deck, and be covered, and protected from all but the worst of weather conditions. This is a very popular thing to do, so if you wish to try it, have someone ready to stake out your spot as soon as foot passengers are able to board.
Food aboard will cost nearly twice what you would to expect to pay for a similar meal at a shore side restaurant. If you are going to “camp out”, consider bringing sandwiches and other cold snacks.
Another option for sleeping is the “recliner lounge”; movies are also shown there, and sleeping bags are not supposed to be in the room during the day. This policy is often not enforced, but don’t count on it. Lockers are available; however, it will cost you .50 every time you open one.
If you are traveling with younger children, and wish to have a stateroom, ask for one near the playroom. It’s a padded room with foam shapes for kids to climb on, build with, and generally burn off excess energy. If you don’t have youngsters, and prefer a quiet room, avoid those near the play area. On the vessel Columbia, rooms 203,205,207 and 209, are nearest the play room.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.