Cruise to Alaska Like a Local - On the Ferry

Calling all adventurers seeking to see 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, and visitors seeking an authentic experience are welcome to share the ride.

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.

Ticket Prices

Costs for travel on the Alaska Marine Highway vary depending on destination, size of vehicle, reservation of sleeping accommodations on board, date of ticket purchase and capacity of 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.


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, online at Alaska Marine Highway Sailing Search.

ID Requirements

Passengers must have a government issued picture 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. And there are specific restrictions in regards to food, goods, weapons and criminal records.

What documentation is required for vehicles on Alaska Ferry?

All vehicles are required to have current license plates and registration as required by U.S. laws to traverse public road systems. All individuals driving vehicles must carry a current drivers license and current proof of vehicle insurance as also required by U.S. state laws.

Where to sleep on Alaska Ferry

Accommodations on board include 100 cabins and roomettes. Cabins are clean and comfortable, but not lavish. Cabin choices include the 4-berth with a private head (restroom), the 2-berth with communal restrooms, or the roomette, which is a very cozy, yet private spot resembling a camper with a table that converts into a bed.

Rooms are not required on the ferry. Many passengers also choose to sleep on the deck, with or without a tent, and 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 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 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 the area before and after their trip. Although located in another state, and separated by another country, Bellingham and the Alaskan villages have a shared history and culture.

The Bellingham region at the far northwest tip of the continental U.S. (including Fairhaven, Blaine, and Semiahmoo) was the original destination of the Alaska fishermen bringing in their catch to large salmon canning operations that would distribute to 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.

Flights from Anchorage to Bellingham

Find out flight information for the Bellingham International Airport

        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

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