Subi & The 5

Bellingham Cruise Terminal Parking Lot – Bellingham, Washington

Yes, we are taking the ferry (and the RV) to Alaska! We booked our sailing as soon as the Alaska Ferry reservation system opened for the season in January. We reserved space for our RV and a 4 berth cabin (just to give us extra space) along with a sitting area/table. We are departing from Bellingham, Washington and continuing on to Haines, Alaska. We were booked on the MV Columbia and all was well. We were paid for, confirmed, and hand tickets in hand. Or so we thought!!

Then one day we received a call from Homer, Alaska. Uh oh….Yep, seems like the MV Columbia is going to remain in Overhaul. It will spend the foreseeable future in Ketchikan being worked on with repairs, inspections, certifications, rebuilds, etc. It was not planned to be in Overhaul for so long therefore the switch came to move booked summer passengers to another sailing vessel. We were moved to the MV Kennicott which is somewhat similar but not the same. This meant a variety of changes for most of the passengers.

The MV Columbia, although older (1974), is a bit longer than the Kennicott (1998). The MV Columbia 4 berth and 2 berth cabins have private restrooms along with an actual dinning room as opposed to just a cafeteria. The Kennicott has private restrooms in their 4 berth cabins but not their 2 berth cabins. The Kennicott 4 berth cabins do not have the sitting area like the Columbia so we lost that in the move. The Columbia has a 499 passenger capacity whereas the Kennicott has a 450 passenger capacity. Therefore many passengers were moved to cabins without restrooms. I think there may have been so unhappy customers. The slight differences are many but yet they are very similar. At least we got on another vessel!!! Or so we think???

The Alaska Ferry system has been struggling for the past many years with old vessels, lack of skilled labor, and growing demands. It seems their funding is in place and a few new vessels are being built but in the meantime passengers need to be flexible with the changes, delays, and cancellations. Will we be one of them? Will we make it there? Off we go.

We departed Cle Elum and headed over Snoqualmie Pass to the Seattle area and headed north. It was great weather, early in the day, yet there was still lots of traffic as we came into Bellevue. We trudged along to Bellingham.

We arrived at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Bellingham a few days early and found a place to park at the long term parking area across from Fairhaven Station. This station is for Amtrak and Greyhound and is next to the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. It was a perfect location for us to park and enjoy the local area.

You pay at a machine at the entrance and pay per day per parking spot. If you take 2 parking spots then you pay for two. The Port of Bellingham website states that there is always parking available even in peak season. AND they were right.

RV Park: Bellingham Cruise Terminal Long Term Parking
Location: Bellingham, Washington (across from Amtrak/Greyhound station)
Site: NA
Cost: $24 (4 parking spaces at $6 per night per space)
Services: dry camping
Comments: A perfect place to spend the night prior to boarding the ferry. The gate is locked at night and unlocked in the morning (roughly 11pm to 7am). It is extremely quiet….until….the trains come roaring by. But, the good news is, it happens so often you don’t even hear it!! Ha, ha, ha….Loud but a great place to spend some time.

The parking lot is within walking distance of restaurants and the grocery store in Fairhaven and right next to the ferry terminal. There are also plenty of walking trails and parks nearby to enjoy the scenery and the weather. A perfect place to get prepared for the sailing while enjoying the area.

The Bellingham Cruise Terminal is directly across the street from where we were parked so we walked over a few different times to check it all out. The terminal handles the Alaska Ferry as well as San Juan Cruises (beer cruises, whale watching cruises, crab dinner cruises) and the Schooner Zodiac along with a few other boat charter companies. There is a fish and chips restaurant and a gift shop and plenty of seating for waiting passengers. The outdoor area has picnic tables to enjoy your fish and chips and watch the boats coming and going.

The back area of the terminal is perfect for dining and watching the various activities around the water.

Fairhaven Station is next to the Cruise Terminal and provides for both Amtrak and Greyhound arrivals and departures.

Paws for a Beer is next to the Fairhaven Station and offers a dog friendly tavern with a large outdoor area, obstacle courses for the dogs, and an indoor dog store. Yes, humans without dogs are allowed but NO CATS!!

The Port of Bellingham offers a public boat launch along with the Bellingham Community Boating Center.

Fairhaven is an old historic district of Bellingham founded in 1853 and has been designated part of the National Historic District. It has an eclectic feel and full of quaint restaurants and shops. It is about a 5 minute walk from our parking lot.

Bellingham has a variety of trails and one of the most popular is the South Bay Trail which winds all around town. Near Taylor Avenue is the Taylor Dock Boardwalk which is a quarter mile boardwalk built from a restored trestle. It is part of the trail system that connects Fairhaven to Boulevard Park in Bellingham. There are a number of benches along the way along with a few picnic tables. It is a great way to enjoy the water, the area, the views, and the weather.

Marine Park is located near the Bellingham Cruise Terminal and offers picnic tables and a waterfront park. It is a perfect area for launching kayaks.

As much as we don’t like staying in a city and would rather be in the wilderness we found that staying in the “parking lot” offered us a great opportunity to prepare for our sailing passage AND to enjoy the local area. Plus we were very close to the ferry when it is time to depart. Thumbs up!!

The MV Kennicott has arrived in port. We are preparing to board! More about our adventures in our next post!

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