Ferry Departure from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy was scheduled for 07:30. We had to be there for 05:30 (it is kind of like boarding a plane but a boat). We woke up at 04:45. We had the wherewithal to stop at Circle K to load up on snacks and water before lining up at the ferry. The kids were excited as it was their first time on a ferry and it was an enormous boat. Julie even cheered as we drove on the ramp to board. As soon as the car was put in park, they wanted to jump out of the car and explore the ferry. And that’s what they did for the first hour. Unfortunately, there were 15 more hours to go.
How was life on the boat? It was pretty empty (despite being fully booked for cars) and we had a whole section of seats to ourselves. It seems like most people booked cabins and rode out the trip in small private rooms. No worries for us as we had a huge section of the boat to ourselves. It was a good thing as the kids smelled terrible. And our feet smelled terrible. Frankly, we were just gross! Fortunately for us, the weather was the opposite. It was a perfectly clear day and we had clear sight lines throughout the passage. Our route would take us down the coast to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. Pretty much all the sailing in the interior passage would be during the day so we could admire the mountains on both sides of the boat.
Paigey grew up riding ferries and understands the ins and outs of them. She has some ferry hacks and I rolled my eyes when she made me bring a sleeping bag and our hoodies from the car. But she was right as the boat was freezing. The kids wanted to go to bed almost immediately (which makes sense since they were up before 5am), so we just rolled the sleeping bag on the floor and avoided the need for a cabin. She also told me we should line up for breakfast on the ferry but I doubted her and said the line was enormous and we should come back in an hour. I was wrong, they just shut off breakfast once the line slowed down and we missed it. The real problem was that I definitely didn’t bring enough food. Our chips and chocolate from Circle K were all consumed before 10am. Not a great parenting moment.
When lunch service was announced, we heeded Paige’s advice and ran to the cafeteria to line up. Paige asked if they would be serving the same meals later for dinner. The response was yes. So for lunch, the kids got to eat chicken fingers & hot dogs and for dinner, they got to eat chicken fingers and hot dogs! For lunch, they got fries on the side, and for dinner, salads. It was the best parenting I could do.
So for the 15 hours of the journey we passed our time, sleeping, eating, taking pictures and doing schoolwork. Paigey spotted seals in the distance but they often already submerged by the time the kids looked. Isabella and Paige saw a school of porpoises which were near the boat and entertaining. And periodically the captain would come on the loudspeaker and alert us to whales off the boat. We were fortunate, as the humpback whales treated us to quite a show. Julie spotted more than 10 whales doing all sorts of things in the water. She would stare out the window and yell, WHALE and the other families in our section would look up.
We successfully disembarked with both kids asleep and arrived at our hostel in Port Hardy. It was another new accommodation type for the kids (kids crossed hostel off their list). Isabella was ecstatic about the bunk bed.
By the Numbers:
- Number of Cars that boarded at Bella Bella – 12 (It was the only stop on the route)
- How long we stayed docked at Bella Bella – 55 minutes
- Kilometres we traveled by ferry: 442
- Kilometres we would have had to drive to get to Vancouver: 1494
- Number of hours kids fought over Osmos ipad learning: 4
- Times that the Osmos had been used before this ferry: 0 (even though it had always been in the backseat)
Where we stayed (5 words or less):
- North Coast Trail Backpackers Hostel: All guests were ferry passengers
- 10+ Porpoises – Isabella found a couple groups of them
- 3 Seals (Paige saw more)
- 10+ Whales – That makes it 10 times better than any whale-watching tour I have ever been on
Ciao for now,