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Old 01-20-2016, 08:20 AM   #15
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My vote would be to try to free up 2 months and drive. I have not done the ferry. We went with a WBCCI caravan and every stop was interesting. Haines was a good stop to see bears and for me to fish.

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Old 01-20-2016, 08:21 AM   #16
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Fairbanks , Alaska
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Given your available time, my take is if you want to enjoy the trip to and from 3AK, then drive one way and ferry the other. If your trip is about seeing AK, then fly up and rent Motorhome.

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Old 01-20-2016, 08:22 AM   #17
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Staying in RV

Originally Posted by mandolindave View Post
Someone said " Many of these operations will allow you to pitch your tent right on the deck and you will be as smug as a bug in a rug."

Is staying in your camper against the rules? It seems a tiny bit odd that you could tent camp but not stay in your RV, especially since you are already paying to have your RV on board.

I am guessing that the ferry company and or the government, are afraid people would use propane powered utilities, and the risk of fire associated with that.

How long does the ferry ride take?
Yes, staying in the RV is against the rules. The RV is on the car deck, which is kept clear during sailing. If you have a dog along (we will not, due to the National Park visits), you have to leave the dog in the RV and can only attend to the dog during stops or planned car deck access times (admittedly not a fun ride for the pooch).

You can camp out on deck in either tent or just a sleeping bag under the stars, and many do this. My wife would prefer a cabin and a bed. The main cost is the RV onboard, not the cabin.
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Old 01-20-2016, 08:33 AM   #18
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Thanks for the input - we will ferry one way, drive the rest

Thanks for all of the valuable input. We have decided to take the ferry one way and drive the rest (including the drive through Yukon and BC on the way home).

We have done two different Alaska cruises (with Princess and Celebrity) and it is a very different experience (balcony cabins, fine dining, etc.). And at less than half the cost. So this was both a value and a function decision for us. We would like the experience of traveling the inner passage on the ferry on the way there (we will do it northbound), then we will drive through Canada on the way back. We are flexible about timing up to 6 weeks, so we might extend our time on the back end of the trip.

I have no idea why the Alaska Ferry is so expensive vs. normal cruise lines (perhaps it is the difference between government run vs. for-profit run), but the biggest cost is for the RV onboard the ferry, which is obviously not the case with a standard cruise ship. There are no meals included and yes, you can pitch a tent or just sleep in a sleeping bag under the stars out on the deck. My wife prefers a bed, hence the cabin (which isn't a big additional expense). No, you cannot sleep in your RV onboard. Perhaps they are worried about all of the propane onboard.

Taking the ferry will be a new way to see that part of the USA (most of which isn't accessible by roads), which is a big reason for us for RVing. And yes, we do look forward to seeing more of Canada as well.

Thanks for all of the input. We really appreciate the wisdom and insights of those on this board, who have much more experience than us. We bought our RV (2014 Airstream Interstate) a year ago and we're still learning.

We are able to make a change in the first 24 hours without penalty (after that, there is a 5% charge up until 30 days before the voyage), so we can cancel the return trip at no expense. The hold time for Alaska Ferries is about an hour, since they just opened up the summer schedules
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Old 01-20-2016, 08:42 AM   #19
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Since you have already done the cruise, I would forgo the ferry altogether and drive both ways. We enjoyed the Alaska Highway outbound, and the Cassiar Highway on the return. I would have been sad to miss either one.

Get the Milepost, of course, plus the Church book, which we felt had better campground information.

Happy travels!

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Old 01-20-2016, 09:22 AM   #20
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Hi from AZ. . . we 'did' Alaska this past Summer from AZ, drove up the AK hiway & back down the Cassiar, very different trips. We took 6 weeks just to get there, a month there, then 4 weeks back. Great trip, but difficult (IMO) to do in less time. The distances from place to place in AK are so great, it's a lot of driving.(14k on truck,11.5k on trailer) The ferry from Bellingham to Haines takes 3 1/2 days, so a big consideration if you are time challenged. Maybe 2 trips would be a better idea. Next time, we're going to put the AS on the ferry in Bellingham, get off at all the places that you can't get to any other way for a few days, then drive back down the Hiway. . . probably next year..... be safe out there, Craig
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Old 01-20-2016, 11:52 AM   #21
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Unless I missed something - when is your planned trip?

Traversing B.C. north to south involves some mountain driving. From October to April, your tow vehicle must be equipped with snow tires, or you may face a fine if stopped.
easily distracted by shiny objects
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Old 01-22-2016, 10:36 AM   #22
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My vote goes for canceling the ferry and enjoy the breathtaking scenery , good roads , wonderful Canadians and Drive both ways ! A must see is the route past lake Louise to Jasper , then up through Grande Cache to Grande Prairie , turn left and head for Dawson Creek and Mile post 0 . Be sure to take the road through Dawson , Yukon , then on to Chicken and Tok .
On the way back you must take the Cassier ! You will hate yourself in the long run for wasting many thousands of dollars and not seeing Gods country along the way !
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Old 01-22-2016, 12:03 PM   #23
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We drove up years ago and brought the pickup with a camper back on the boat. No you aren't allowed to sleep in your camper, but you can go down to see it or to feed your pet etc. from time to time. We had a wonderful two months, and the ferry trip back sleeping on the deck was great. We were plenty warm from the heat lights above us each night and met lots of great people from all over the world. Everyone watched over each other's stuff when we went to shower or eat. All this being said, I would still drive one way and ferry home. If you don't have lots of time, another option is to experience the state ferry for far less money because you don't take the camper and rent a pickup truck with a camper or a different type of camper and enjoy exploring Alaska.
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Old 01-22-2016, 01:47 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by RamblinManGa View Post
snip>>>get off at all the places that you can't get to any other way for a few days<<<snip
I think that's the best idea so far!
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Old 01-22-2016, 02:33 PM   #25
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We did an Alaska trip in 2006. 2 months total time on the road. We had a great experience on the Ferry portion and saw places you can't drive to. We drove going up did a big loop and got on the Ferry at Haines, on-off several places and permanently off at Prince Rupert. You get a much different experience on the ferry than on a cruise ship. There are many towns that are not serviced by cruise ships and I like those towns much better. Also being in the cruise ship towns after the ships leave each evening is much more enjoyable than dealing with the tourists from the ships. The ferry portion enhanced our trip. If you are just taking the ferry for transportation and staying on then that is a little different.
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Old 01-22-2016, 03:26 PM   #26
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A $6600 ferry ride is not an investment that we would make. But then we have never had an enjoyable ferry ride and would hate to miss out on the bragging rights of doing the drive. Pat
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Old 01-22-2016, 03:48 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by NWRVR View Post
I agree, the Alaska Highway drive is the adventure. We drove it both ways in the summer of 1972 in a VW camper and tent with four adults and three children from two to seven years old. At that time, it was all gravel from Whitehorse to the Alaska border, now it is mostly paved. We still reminisce about that trip and can't wait to do it in our AS. So, take the Ferry up and drive back, but take your time and enjoy!

Perfect thread for us too.
We are planing an Alaska trip for 2017. This year we are heading out East since all of our trips the last 3 years have been out West. My question is do it solo or join the caravan? We are both bit of a loners and never joined a caravan before.
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Old 01-22-2016, 03:56 PM   #28
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Just a suggestion for a route either which way.

Get the BC ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy or from Port Hardy to Prince Rupertand then the US ferry from Vancouver island to Seattle Washington or Seattle to Vancouver Island. Beautiful drive across Vancouver island through the Malihat and then a beautiful cruise through the inner coast line of B.C, with the whales.


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