Web posted Wednesday, May 8, 2002

photo: activities

Ferries of all sizes are available for transportation around Kachemak Bay, from the Alaska Marine Highway's Tustumena to water taxis.

Alaska ferries offer unique view of state

A trip on an Alaska Marine Highway System ferry is a great way to see 2,000 miles of coastline, marine wildlife and Alaska's coastal communities. Make your reservations as far in advance as possible, however, as cabin space fills early. Reservations for a summer trip can be made as early as December of the preceding year.

Homer is served by the state ferry Tustumena, which carries 210 passengers and 42 vehicles and has 26 cabins. It makes a round trip to Seldovia twice a week, and offers three trips a week to Kodiak. Once a week it continues from Kodiak to Seward and Valdez. For a really unique adventure, take the Tustumena's once-a-month trip out the Alaska Peninsula to the Aleutian Islands and Dutch Harbor.

During the summer months, naturalists from the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge come along to present interpretive programs and assist with marine wildlife sightings and identifications. Passengers often see whales, seals, sea otters, sea lions, puffins and other species of sea life.

The ferry office and dock are near the tip of the Spit. The office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, as well as two hours before the Tustumena's scheduled arrival on weekends. Keep in mind that the paved ferry staging area is for cars boarding the ferry and is not a public parking lot.

For information or reservations for the entire Alaska Marine Highway System, including Southeast Alaska and the exciting new trip across the Gulf of Alaska on the ferry Kennicott, call the Homer office at 235-8449 or (800) 382-9229, send e-mail to homerferry@akmhs.com, or visit www.akmhs.com.