Alaska Marine Highway
What is the Alaska Marine Highway[edit | edit source]
The "highway" is actually a ferry system that is based in Ketchikan, Alaska. It operates along the south central coast of the state, servicing the Aleutian islands, the Inside Passage and parts of British Columbia, Canada. It goes as far south as Bellingham, Washington and as far west as Dutch Harbor. Several small communities in that area of Alaska have no road access and the large ferries have transported people, vehicles and freight since 1949. It was officially named in 1963. It services 3100 miles of coast line.
It is part of the National Highway System and receives federal highway funding. Although it travels between Alaska and the contiguous United States, passing through (and servicing) parts of Canada, it does not require international customs and immigration.
It is a rare example of a shipping line that offers scheduled service for transportation services rather than entertainment and leisure. It offers small cabins for an extra fee and serves food in cafeterias.
Currently its 11 vessels carry approximately 350,000 people per year and 100,000 vehicles. It has been used as a migration route since its inception but is primarily utilized now as a tourist route and offers a budget friendly means of moving from one location in Alaska to another.