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How Long Is The Ferry Ride From Seattle To Alaska


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Kamila Mondragon



Alaska is a breathtaking destination known for its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. For adventurers looking to explore this pristine wilderness, one of the most popular options is to take a ferry from Seattle to Alaska. The journey not only offers a unique and scenic way to reach the Last Frontier, but it also allows travelers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.


The ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska is a captivating experience that takes you through a route dotted with picturesque islands, breathtaking fjords, and snow-capped peaks. It is a journey that offers the opportunity to witness nature’s wonders and discover the hidden gems that lie along the way.


Whether you are a nature enthusiast, wildlife lover, or simply seeking solitude in the midst of nature’s grandeur, the ferry ride to Alaska is an adventure worth considering. So, let’s explore the routes, duration, amenities, and highlights of this incredible journey, and discover why it’s an experience that should not be missed.


Routes from Seattle to Alaska

There are two main ferry routes from Seattle to Alaska: the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) and the Inside Passage. The AMHS operates year-round and provides transportation for both passengers and vehicles, while the Inside Passage route is a popular scenic option during the summer months.


The Alaska Marine Highway System is a network of ferry routes that connect various communities in Alaska with the mainland. The most common route from Seattle is the “Southcentral Route,” which takes you through the Inside Passage to towns like Ketchikan, Juneau, and Sitka. From there, you can continue north to Haines and Skagway or head west towards Prince William Sound and Anchorage.


The Inside Passage route is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. It passes through a maze of islands, fjords, and rugged coastlines, offering awe-inspiring views of glaciers, mountains, and abundant wildlife. This route takes you through popular destinations like Victoria in British Columbia, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, before finally reaching various ports in Alaska.


Both routes have their own unique charm and offer different experiences for travelers. The Alaska Marine Highway System is a practical choice if you plan to bring your vehicle or if you want to explore multiple destinations in Alaska. On the other hand, the Inside Passage route provides a more leisurely and scenic journey, perfect for those who want to savor the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.


When planning your trip, it’s important to check the schedules and availability of the ferries as they can vary depending on the season. Additionally, keep in mind that the Inside Passage route is only available during the summer months when the weather is more favorable.


Duration of the Ferry Ride

The duration of the ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska can vary depending on the chosen route and the specific itinerary. Generally, the journey can take anywhere from three to seven days, depending on factors such as weather conditions and the number of stops along the way.


If you opt for the Alaska Marine Highway System route, the duration of the ferry ride will depend on your final destination. For example, the journey from Seattle to Juneau typically takes around 2 to 3 days, while traveling all the way to Anchorage can take up to 7 days. Keep in mind that these are rough estimates, and the actual duration may vary depending on the specific schedule and any unforeseen circumstances.


On the other hand, if you choose the Inside Passage route, the duration of the ferry ride from Seattle to Ketchikan usually takes around 36 to 42 hours. From Ketchikan, the journey to Juneau can take an additional 14 to 18 hours. The duration will depend on the specific stops along the way and any optional side trips you may take.


It’s important to note that these durations are subject to change, so it is always a good idea to check the current schedules and plan accordingly. Additionally, keep in mind that the ferry journey offers a chance to see some of the most scenic and majestic landscapes in North America, so it’s worth allowing for some extra time to fully enjoy the experience.


Factors Affecting the Journey Time

Several factors can influence the duration of the ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska. Understanding these factors will help you better plan your trip and manage your expectations. Here are some key factors that can affect the journey time:

1. Route: The specific route you choose will determine the duration of the ferry ride. Different routes have different stops and distances, which can impact the overall travel time. The Alaska Marine Highway System route offers flexibility and multiple destinations, while the Inside Passage route provides a more scenic journey with fewer stops. 2. Weather Conditions: Weather plays a significant role in the ferry ride duration. Bad weather, especially storms and heavy seas, can lead to delays or changes in the schedule. It’s important to be prepared for potential weather-related disruptions and plan accordingly. 3. Season: The time of year can impact the journey time as well. The Inside Passage route is more commonly traveled during the summer months when the weather is more favorable and daylight hours are longer. During winter, certain routes may have reduced or limited sailings due to icy conditions or less demand. 4. Ferry Schedule: The frequency and availability of ferries can also influence the journey time. Some routes may have more frequent sailings, allowing for shorter travel times, while others may have limited departures, resulting in longer waits and overall journey duration. 5. Ports of Call: The number of stops and the length of time spent at each port of call can affect the overall journey time. Some ports may have longer layovers for loading and unloading cargo, which can extend the travel duration. 6. Optional Side Trips: If you choose to add side trips or excursions along the way, such as visiting a specific attraction or exploring a remote area, these additional stops can increase the overall journey time. It’s essential to keep these factors in mind when planning your ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska. Be sure to check the latest schedules and be prepared for any potential delays or changes. Remember, the journey itself is a part of the adventure, so embrace the experience and savor the breathtaking scenery that Alaska has to offer along the way.


Amenities and Facilities onboard

When embarking on a ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska, you can expect to find a range of amenities and facilities onboard to make your journey comfortable and enjoyable. Though the specific amenities may vary depending on the ferry and route, here are some common features you may find:

1. Cabins and Sleeping Accommodations: Most ferries offer a variety of cabin options, ranging from cozy private cabins to shared accommodations. These cabins often come equipped with comfortable beds, linens, and basic amenities for a restful night’s sleep during the journey. 2. Dining Options: Onboard restaurants and cafeterias provide a selection of meals, snacks, and beverages to satisfy your hunger during the trip. You can enjoy a range of dining choices, including full-service restaurants, buffets, or casual cafés. 3. Lounge Areas: Relax and unwind in lounges or observation decks, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the passing scenery. These spaces often have comfortable seating, large windows, and sometimes even outdoor viewing areas to fully appreciate the stunning landscapes. 4. Entertainment and Activities: Many ferries offer onboard entertainment and activities to keep passengers engaged during the journey. You might find amenities such as movie theaters, live music performances, onboard shops, or even organized events like nature talks or art exhibitions. 5. WiFi and Connectivity: Some ferries provide internet access onboard, allowing you to stay connected with loved ones or catch up on work during the trip. However, keep in mind that the connection may vary in speed and availability depending on the location and distance from shore. 6. Facilities for Families and Children: Family-friendly amenities like children’s playrooms or designated areas for parents and infants ensure that families traveling with young children have a comfortable experience throughout the journey. 7. Accessibility Features: Ferries strive to provide accessibility features for passengers with disabilities or special needs. This may include ramps, elevators, accessible cabins, and bathrooms with accommodations for mobility-impaired individuals. It’s important to note that the availability of amenities and facilities may vary depending on the ferry and route, so it’s recommended to check with the specific ferry operator for detailed information about the onboard services. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, entertainment, or convenience, the amenities provided onboard the ferries will help enhance your overall journey experience as you sail towards the remarkable wonders of Alaska.


Scenic Highlights along the Route

The ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska offers breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences as it passes through some of the most picturesque landscapes in North America. Here are a few of the scenic highlights you can expect along the route:

1. Inside Passage: This iconic 1,000-mile waterway showcases the stunning beauty of the Pacific Northwest. As you cruise through the Inside Passage, you’ll be treated to magnificent views of towering mountains, lush rainforests, and pristine glaciers. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as whales, seals, eagles, and even bears along the shoreline. 2. Glacier Bay National Park: If your journey includes a stop in Glacier Bay, prepare to be amazed by the breathtaking glaciers and icy fjords. The park’s namesake glaciers, including the famous Margerie Glacier, are a sight to behold. Marvel at the shimmering blue ice, listen to the thunderous calving, and witness the awe-inspiring beauty of this natural wonder. 3. Ketchikan: Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” Ketchikan is nestled amidst the Tongass National Forest and offers stunning scenery. Explore the lush rainforest, visit the iconic Misty Fjords National Monument, or witness the spectacle of the famous Creek Street – a historic boardwalk perched above the water. 4. Juneau: The capital city of Alaska, Juneau, is situated between towering mountains and the waters of the Gastineau Channel. As you approach the city, marvel at the stunning Mendenhall Glacier, which cascades down the mountainside into a brilliant blue lake. You’ll also have the chance to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, whale watching, or exploring the downtown area with its charming shops and restaurants. 5. Skagway: As you journey further north, you’ll discover Skagway, a historic gold rush town nestled at the base of snow-capped mountains. Take a step back in time as you explore the well-preserved downtown, visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, or embark on a scenic railway adventure along the White Pass and Yukon Route. 6. Prince William Sound: If your route takes you west towards Anchorage, you’ll pass through the magnificent Prince William Sound. Feast your eyes on the dramatic coastal scenery, towering glaciers, and sparkling blue waters. Wildlife sightings are common, including seals, sea otters, and a variety of bird species. These are just a few examples of the scenic highlights along the ferry route from Seattle to Alaska. Each day brings new vistas and natural wonders to behold, making this journey a photographer’s dream and an opportunity to connect with the beauty of the untamed wilderness. Be sure to have your camera ready and gaze in awe as you embark on this memorable adventure.


Tips for a Comfortable Journey

Embarking on a ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska is an exciting adventure, and ensuring a comfortable journey will enhance your overall experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:

1. Pack Layers: The weather along the route can vary, so it’s essential to pack clothing that can be layered. This allows you to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the journey. Include items like a waterproof jacket, comfortable shoes for walking on deck, and warm layers for cooler moments. 2. Bring Snacks and Water: While ferries typically offer dining options, it’s a good idea to have some snacks or light meals on hand. This will ensure you have options if you get hungry between meals or if you prefer to eat in the comfort of your cabin. Additionally, staying hydrated is important, so carry a water bottle to refill throughout the trip. 3. Stay Active: The ferry journey provides opportunities for exploration and physical activity. Take advantage of onboard amenities like walking tracks or fitness centers to stretch your legs and stay active during the trip. Enjoy the scenic views while getting some exercise. 4. Pack Entertainment: While the journey itself offers stunning scenery, having some entertainment options can add to your comfort. Bring books, magazines, or electronic devices with movies or music to keep yourself entertained during downtime or during long stretches of travel. 5. Take Motion Sickness Precautions: If you are prone to motion sickness, consider taking necessary precautions. Over-the-counter medications or natural remedies like ginger can help alleviate symptoms. It’s also advisable to choose a cabin or seating area that offers a more stable ride, such as midship or on lower decks. 6. Capture Memories: Don’t forget your camera or smartphone to capture the unforgettable moments and breathtaking landscapes along the route. The ferry journey provides ample opportunities for photography, so keep your camera handy to document the beauty of Alaska. 7. Stay Informed: Stay updated on the ferry’s schedule, route, and any announcements to ensure a smooth journey. Familiarize yourself with the amenities available onboard, including dining hours, entertainment options, and any special events or activities. 8. Enjoy the Journey: Finally, embrace the journey itself. Take the time to relax, appreciate the stunning scenery, and connect with fellow travelers. Engage in conversations, share stories, and make new friends as you sail towards the wonders of Alaska. By following these tips, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska. Sit back, relax, and savor every moment as you embark on this remarkable journey of a lifetime.



The ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska is a captivating and scenic journey that allows you to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest and immerse yourself in the pristine wilderness of the Last Frontier. Whether you choose the Alaska Marine Highway System or the Inside Passage route, this adventure offers unique experiences and opportunities to explore Alaska’s stunning landscapes, wildlife, and cultural heritage.


From the towering mountains and ancient glaciers of Glacier Bay to the charming towns of Ketchikan and Juneau, each day on the ferry route brings new wonders to behold. The onboard amenities and facilities ensure your comfort throughout the journey, with options for dining, relaxation, and entertainment.


While the duration of the ferry ride and the specific highlights along the route may vary, one thing remains constant – the chance to create lifelong memories and connect with the natural world. The breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, and remote wilderness of Alaska will leave you in awe and provide experiences that will stay with you for years to come.


Remember to plan ahead, pack appropriately, and embrace the adventure. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply seeking a unique travel experience, the ferry ride from Seattle to Alaska offers a remarkable way to discover the beauty of this remarkable region.


So, embark on this incredible journey, capture the breathtaking landscapes with your camera, savor the unique onboard amenities, and embrace the sense of wonder as you sail towards the captivating wilderness of Alaska.