I had heard that the BC Ferries trip from Prince Rupert in the north to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island is like taking a cruise at a fraction of the price. As Prince Rupert is nearly 54 degrees latitude, mid-June is a wonderful time to do so, being light from early morning to late evening. I was heading south to my home on Vancouver Island.
The MV Northern Expedition is certainly classy and well equipped. The cost for a regular car is $444 in peak summer and as low as $249 in winter months, really no more than vehicle costs to drive down through the BC Interior.
This was a very early start—I needed to be at the dock in Prince Rupert at 5:30 am for a 7:30 departure. After loading on the car deck, I went to the passenger deck and decided to have a good buffet breakfast, an excellent choice of hot foods and fresh cut fruit, juices and hot drinks.
As the ship sailed there were several great views of the harbour activity. I found that there were staterooms equipped for the 15 hour trip, but I decided to buy a $34 reclining chair in the Aurora Lounge at the prow of the ship in a peaceful area with an 180 degree view. I travelled most of the trip with camera in hand and got some excellent shots. I enjoyed the Canoe Cafe for a hamburger lunch and an excellent chicken dinner.
The route took us along a series of beautiful forested fjords that were sometimes only one to two kilometers wide. There were many spectacular waterfalls from hanging valleys formed during the last ice age that fell directly into the sea.The captain pointed out sea life near the ship and there were recorded announcements of many points of interest, such as historic canneries and mills.
A real bonus was meeting a number of world travellers. I was able to have a great conversation with a Swiss father and son who were bonding by exploring British Columbia. The ship traversed Bella Bella harbour before continuing south through more open waters; it felt like a genuine sea voyage on this section of the trip.
The ferry arrived in Port Hardy on time at 10:30 pm. The ease of loading and unloading as well as the scenery and on-board amenities made this an excellent choice of BC travel.