Traveling by Boat, not Bus

My town is Juneau, Alaska. I live in an area known as Southeast Alaska. Most towns and villages here are on the coasts of islands and the mainland. Towns are connected by water. Mountains, glaciers, coves, inlets and forest make building roads almost impossible. Therefore people travel by a marine highway system.

The Alaska Marine Highway includes a fleet of large and small ferry ships. These ships are covered and resemble a cruise ship. Fancy clothes are seldom worn since most travelers are going to a specific destination, and they dress for that. The fare to travel the Marine Highway is a little less than to travel by air.

The passenger list contains families, single people and frequently youth groups. Most towns have only one high school. Students, therefore, travel by ferry to compete against other school teams. Chorus groups, swim teams, baseball all-stars, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts also travel on the ferries. There are youth fares and groups fares which help to make these trips less expensive.

This system of traveling is like an adventure. Staterooms are available on many of the ferries, but most youth groups take sleeping bags and sleep in the lounge. After the visitors arrive in a new town the host organization provides housing for the visitors. The visitors get a chance to sightsee all over the small towns. Soon the visitors have their meets, or contest, or whatever. When they leave, the visitors have often made new friends and pen pals. After they arrive home, life goes back to normal until the next visit.

This type of travel has its advantages and disadvantages, and yet the boats keep on motoring through the Southeast Alaskan waters, bringing the people of the towns and cities closer together.

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