North to Alaska – Should You Take the Ferries with Dogs? Part 2

This past summer we visited Alaska, Yukon and BC with our standard poodle Toby. We traveled with a travel trailer and took the Black Ball Ferry, BC Ferry and the Alaska Ferry up to Alaska and then drove back on the Alaska Highway. So can you take your dog on these ferries, which travel hundreds of miles between ports at times and can transport you and your vehicles thousands of miles on a trip between the lower 48 or BC and Alaska? You can, but there are many restrictions and that can make it difficult. Here is a summary of the rules and operations as it relates to pets on the Black Ball Ferry, the BC Ferry and the Alaska Ferry System. The first part was about the Black Ball Ferry. This part covers the BC Ferry and the Alaska Ferry will follow in part 3.

The BC Ferry – Northern Route from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, BC

From Victoria we drove about 250 miles to Port Hardy which is on the northern end of the long, thin Vancouver Island to catch the first of the long ferry rides to Alaska. This ferry is at sea for 15 straight hours on the famous Inside Passage and travels about 400 miles north. There are no port stops at all. The Northern Expedition is a gorgeous ship. While not as big as a cruise ship it is similar to one. There are two restaurants, movies and a number of lounges. There is incredible scenery and many decks to observe it from. State rooms are available for you and your family, minus your dog. Pets are allowed on the ferry, but must remain on the car deck. For people with vehicles, either cars or RVs, this means that the pets must remain in the vehicle. If you are a walk-on passenger the ferry has a number of kennels in a small kennel room on the car deck that your dog can stay in. People are not allowed to stay on the car deck during the voyage. However, there are 5 scheduled car deck access times during the 15 hour cruise where people can go to the car deck to visit their pets and walk them on the car deck. This allows access every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Towards the front of the car deck you can let your dog relieve themselves along the walls, rails or cones. The ship crew will take care of cleanup. There is no grass so we found that our dog was quite unwilling to go here. However, after about 8 hours he finally went on the garbage can. There were about 5 other dogs on the ferry with us. It seems that 2 of them did their business relatively quickly and the others eventually went further into the voyage. However, all eventually went. The BC Ferry car deck is well-lit, roomy and open. It is not very noisy except at the far back of the car deck where the engines are. As you have no say where your vehicle is placed, hopefully you will not be placed there. It appears that cars, and not RV’s are usually placed in this area, but there are also many cars in the other parts of the car deck. The crew of the BC Ferry, in general, seems sensitive to your needs when traveling with dogs.

The BC Ferry may allow you to visit the car deck at unscheduled times. They require that a crew member accompany you when on the car deck. If someone is available, they may, but also may not allow a visit. On our voyage the crew of the BC Ferry was helpful when asked.

Our dog handled the 15 hour voyage well, but he was always extremely happy to be visited. We fed him a little at each visit, instead of one larger meal. If you have more than one dog, they will probably be happier than a dog by itself.

The Ferry left Port Hardy at 7:30 am but you need to be there by 5:30 am. It arrived in Prince Rupert at 10:00 pm. During the summer that far north it may still be light out when the ferry arrives. At Prince Rupert we then took the Alaska Ferry to Juneau.

More Information on the BC Ferry is at this link.

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