The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is a 3,500-mile water “highway” from Bellingham, WA, through Alaska’s Inside Passage and on to Alaska’s Aleutian Chain. The state-run ferry system connects coastal Alaska towns, not otherwise connected to the road system, to provide reliable, economical, year-round transportation service to 33 Alaska ports as well as Bellingham and Prince Rupert, BC.
The AMHS is a vital part of Alaska’s transportation system and a route so special, it has been designated a National Scenic Byway, and earned the title of an “All-American Road” by the Federal Highway Administration.
The ferry is the preferred method of transportation for anyone traveling through Southeast Alaska with a vehicle and can transport large vehicles such as motorhomes. Hands down, the ferry is the most relaxing, beautiful way to experience the Inside Passage.
Large, traditional ferries operated by AMHS are, safe, comfortable and offer dining options, private cabins and expansive observation decks.
Cabins, with single or double bunks and private bathroom facilities, are available on most ships and vary in price according to size and location. For those cabins that do not include a private bath, public bathrooms and shower facilities are also available on most vessels.
Trying to save a few dollars during your Alaska vacation? Inside recliner lounges and the covered solarium on the upper deck offer less expensive sleeping options. Just be sure to bring a sleeping bag. For the more adventurous, small tents are allowed on the upper decks, where you can enjoy camping under the Alaska sky.
Most vessels, with the exception of the MV Lituya, offer food and beverage services. If your travel plans include a four-legged companion, please visit the “pets section” of the AMHS website.
Founded in 1963, the Alaska Marine Highway System quickly went from one founding vessel to a fleet of three new ships, the Malaspina, Taku and Matanuska, all of which are still in service today.
The system now consists of 11 vessels covering 3,500 miles of coastline from Bellingham, WA to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. From the deck of the ferry, riders can enjoy views of Alaska’s vivid blue glaciers, snow-capped mountains, active volcanoes, majestic fjords and lush green forests. Passengers will also find ample opportunities to view wildlife such as porpoises, bald eagles, sea otters, whales and even a bear or mountain goat along the coast.