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Northern Expedition

BC Ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert

semi-overcast 19 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 June 27 to Aug 15 on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

We arrived at the Port Hardy BC Ferry Terminal at 6:00pm on August 7. The ferry sails at 7:30am and begins loading at 6:00am. The ferry company wants you to arrive at 5:00am to get registered for your sailing. This meant we would have had to get up around 4:00am at the campground, hook up TaJ in the dark in order to arrive at the designated time.

BC Ferries allows people with campers/trailers to camp out in the parking lot for a fee. We opted to camp in the parking lot for the night.

The costs of all this:
Sully, the TaJ-ma-Haul & us as passengers: $1,394.65
Outside cabin for the voyage (last minute add on) $ 130.00
Parking lot camping fee: $ 22.00
Total cost: $1,546.65

The overnight camping worked out pretty well. We arrived around 6:30pm and settled in for the evening, with a beer and some snacks. Other motor homes arrived as the evening progressed and by bedtime there were 10 vehicles over-nighting in the parking lot.


It was relatively quiet until the ferry arrived from Prince Rupert at 11:30pm, then a noisy hour as they unloaded and moved some transport trucks and other stuff on to the ferry. The rest of the short night was quiet. By 5:30am everyone was awake and the ferry terminal filling up with walk-on passengers and a bunch more vehicles arrived. The ferry carries 150 vehicles and about 600 passengers and the almost all summer sailings are fully booked. If you plan on using this ferry service you should book in advance.

The loading went well. Here we are heading into the maw of the beast:


The Northern Expedition is a fairly modern vessel, built in 2008. It is the permanent replacement for the Queen of the North, which BC Ferries managed to sink in March 2006 with the loss of two lives. The sinking will forever be a blot on the record of the ferry company.

Jenny and I booked a cabin on board for the 16-hour journey and this proved to be a great addition to the trip. The cabins are comfortable and allowed us to catch naps during the day, after a short night's sleep in the parking lot at the terminal. I slept about 3 hours over the course of the voyage and Jenny about 4 hours.

The cabins have showers and I might add a quick note here: If the weather is poor and the seas outside Port Hardy are rough, it is advisable to shower while the ferry is in port. The wave action sloshes the water around and it is much more difficult to maintain your footing on the shower floor as the ship bounces along over the waves.

The ferry departed on-time and we immediately became aware that this was not a cruise ship. There was significant noise and vibration from the engines. We had breakfast in the cafeteria, total cost for 2 bacon and egg breakfasts with coffee was $32.95.

We walked the deck and learned it is possible to get in a good walking workout by climbing from deck 5 through to deck 7 and then circling the ship and moving from deck to deck. By the end of the day we had walked several times and had accumulated more than 15000 steps on our GPS watches. It is nice to walk with a constantly changing scenery.


We had lunch on the back deck of the ferry, where they have a barbeque set up. We shared a bratwurst on a bun and a beer for $13.50.

Speaking of scenery, the views along the inside passage are fantastic. We stopped at Bella-Bella on the way north and watched these kayaks being unloaded. Before we departed one active soul had gotten his kayak ready and headed off from the terminal about the same time the Northern Expedition did.


There are several interesting lighthouses along the route:


The view for much of the rest of the voyage looks like this:


We had supper, once again in the cafeteria. Jenny had chicken strips and a salad and I had a burger and fries. Each of us had a beer. Total cost was $41.90. The food on board is adequate, but their check out and payment system is archaic and very slow. By the time you get through the line and to your table you can be assured the food will be lukewarm at best.

There is the option for a buffet in a different part of the ship. The cost is $32.95 per adult + alcohol and that seemed a bit steep to us, hence our choice of the cafeteria. They should offer seniors a single pass at the buffet at a reduced rate. Neither Jenny or I could eat enough to justify choosing a buffet.

The last part of the journey seems long. A 16 hour ferry ride is not the same quality as a cruise and you become a bit weary of the vibration and noise of the ship. We arrived in Prince Rupert on-time at 11:30pm. We exited the boat and immediately headed out onto Highway 16 towards Terrace. About 15 kilometers out of town there is a picnic area at the side of the road. We stopped there for the night. We woke early in the morning, ready to continue our journey.


This was the view we had in the morning:


The ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert is good value if you consider that we would have had to return to Nanaimo, catch the ferry to Vancouver and then spend 4-5 days driving up British Columbia to get to the northern part of the province. It is a treat that we added to our travel plans well in advance. The cost seems high, but, in the end we feel we got decent value for our money.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 09:50 Archived in Canada Tagged bc_ferry northern_expedition

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