Cruise to Alaska Like a Local - On the Ferry

Calling all adventurers seeking the real Alaska: The best highway is on the water! In fact, the only highway to most of lower Alaska’s villages is by sea. The Alaska Ferry (officially called the Alaska Marine Highway System) departs from Bellingham, Washington to access America’s remote north through the awe-inspiring Inside Passage. This is how the locals travel. Visitors seeking an authentic experience are welcome to share the ride.

There's a rich history between Bellingham and Alaskan villages. Starting in the late 1800s, the Bellingham region (including Fairhaven, Blaine, and Semiahmoo) became a destination for Alaska fishermen, who would bring their catch to large salmon canning operations that would then distribute fish across the nation and the world. Native peoples have traveled these routes for centuries, sharing family ties and trade. To this day, many Bellingham residents have commerce ties to Alaska in a variety of industries.

The Bellingham Cruise Terminal, in Bellingham's Fairhaven Village, is the southern starting point for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Navigating the nation's first marine scenic highway, the ferry departs Bellingham regularly transporting passengers and vehicles between Alaska and the lower 48 states. There is an additional ferry on alternating Saturdays typically during the summer months that reaches as far as Whittier allowing visitors to see all Alaska has to offer. Visit the Alaska Marine Highway System website for complete schedules and details.

How much does a ticket cost?

Costs for travel on the Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham vary depending on destination, size of vehicle, sleeping accommodations on board, date of ticket purchase, and availability. Vehicle and passenger fares are sold separately. The new dynamic pricing system encourages passengers to book as early as possible for the best rates.


How do I make a reservation?

Alaska Ferry vehicle space and sleeping accommodations sell out quickly for the summer months. Make reservations many months in advance by calling 800-642-0066 or 907-465-3941 or visiting Alaska Marine Highway Sailing Search.


What kind of ID do I need? 

All passengers must have some kind of government-issued photo identification to board the Alaska Ferry, such as a driver's license, passport, military ID, or equivalent. For more details, see the full list of Alaska Marine Highway Travel Policies.

If traveling in Canada, a passport or other acceptable ID is required. Crossing the border also entails specific restrictions regarding food, goods, weapons, and criminal records.


I'd like to bring my vehicle. What kind of documentation do I need?

All vehicles are required to have current license plates and up-to-date registration. All drivers must carry a valid drivers license and current proof of vehicle insurance as required by U.S. state laws.


Where will I sleep on the Ferry?

Accommodations on the Alaska Ferry include 100 cabins and roomettes. Cabins are clean and comfortable, but not lavish. Sleeping options include:

  • 4-berth cabin with a private head (restroom)
  • 2-berth cabin with communal restrooms
  • Roomette - a cozy yet private spot resembling a camper with a table that converts into a bed
  • The deck! Rooms are not required on the ferry. Many passengers choose to sleep on the deck, with or without a tent. Lockers are available for securing belongings.

How long does it take to travel from Bellingham to Alaska on the ferry?

The answer depends on where you’re going. The Alaska Ferry runs 24 hours a day. It takes 36 hours from Bellingham, WA to reach the first stop at Ketchikan. Visitors often disembark in a variety of towns, stay a few nights on land, then continue on the ferry. The full route reaches from Bellingham all the way to Dutch Harbor and Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands, with vistas that appear as untouched as the Galapagos.

Visitors also enjoy spending the night in Bellingham and exploring Whatcom County before and after their journey. With plenty of things to do in Bellingham, from hiking and kayaking to sampling one of our award-winning breweries, think of it like a mini vacation before your epic Alaskan getaway. 

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990
Visiting?

Places to Stay
Itineraries
Getting Here
Sightsee
Read Blogs
Engage!

Events
Photo Contest
Move Here
Attend
Contact Us
Tourism Talk

Industry Resources
Join as a Member
Media Inquiries
Host Groups & Events
About Us
Site by Drozian Webworks
©2022 Visit Bellingham Whatcom County