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If you thought about cruising through the Inside Passage up to Southeast Alaska this year that idea may not float.

About 70% of scheduled cruises to Alaska in 2020 have been cancelled already, meaning 800,000 passengers won’t be making the trip this year.

Of course, you need not hop aboard a cruise ship to travel from the “Lower 48” to “Southeast” as the Alaska Panhandle is known to its residents.

The Alaska Marine Highway System runs ferries weekly from Bellingham, Washington, just south of the U.S.-Canada border, to Southeast Alaska beginning during the last week of June until at least the third week of September.

Alaska Airlines serves all of the major towns in the region, and other airlines provide some limited service as well.

But visiting more than one of those places on a single trip can be tricky. While you can drive rental cars locally, roads don’t connect the towns.

To hop from place to place you will have to rely on airlines or the Alaska Marine Highway System ferries. And there may be only one flight a day in and out of some towns, and ferry service may not be available at every location every day of the week.

So it can be quite a challenge coming up with a multi-stop regional itinerary that does not involve overnighting in Juneau, the air and ferry hub, more than once.

And it is unclear how the coronavirus-caused cancellation of cruise ship travel might affect the availability of flights, ferry seats or cabins, accommodations, local tours, restaurants.

Maybe you should put off your “Southeast” adventure until 2021 as many who originally planned a visit this year are likely to do.

But that shouldn’t stop you from taking two virtual trips with me.

In June of 2008 I spent a couple of weeks hopscotching around the Alaska Panhandle by plane and ferry. You can follow in my footsteps by watching this film.


Some of the “locals” I met during that journey had come to “Southeast” on a visit from elsewhere in the U.S., and never went home. Alaska became their new home.

But as my film “Southeast: Life in The Alaska Panhandle” points out, as scenic as the region is, not everyone would want to permanently domicile there.


Both of Dick Jordan’s films have aired on non-commercial community televisions stations in the U.S. He wrote about visiting Southeast Alaska back in 2017.

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