If somebody tells you “It’s worth its weight in gold to pay the extra cash for a cabin” – listen to them.
The ferry ride from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy (on Vancouver Island) is a 20 hour adventure, taking passengers through the beautiful inside passage. Lush mountains covered in trees with white snow caps are everywhere. The water is like glass as you glide through it. Eagles are flying around everywhere, bears are dotted along the shorelines, and every once in a while you are lucky enough to spot a school of porpoises or whales.
This post was originally published in 2007. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
In an effort to embrace the “roughing it” aspect of our future travels in developing countries (and of course to also save a few bucks), we decided not to listen to our Kiwi friend Matt (quoted above – “Ye, it’s woof its waieet in gowld, ass wha ya gotta deo”) who had taken the trip from Vancouver Island a week prior, and to instead try to spend the night in the common area.
Because we’re still in the shoulder season, the boat was almost empty. “Ye can plaee a gaem a cricket, its saoo beeg,” said Matt in reference to the hundreds of empty seats that made up the economy section. In total I’m guessing that only about 20 people occupied it.
We were also warned from a number of previous passengers that the ferry was cold – really cold. Of course, these were mostly British passengers, who are the first to admit they are used to the super-heated ferries in their neck of the woods. Nevertheless, we bought a fleece blanket for the trip, knowing it would come in handy more than once during our travels.
We immediately set up camp towards the front of the boat, with the intention of sleeping on some narrow couches that were dotted around.
Once night fell and we were ready for bedtime, we had a slight dilemma on our hands: Sleep feet to feet on the narrow couches and try to share the one blanket we had, or to share our body heat and cuddle on the floor.
“I’m not really that cold, and it would be nice to spread out a bit on the floor. There won’t be as many blanket issues, and I can fall sleep anywhere anyway,” were the words I used, that I’m still eating today.
I guess it’s been a while since I’ve slept on a hard surface, especially one that vibrates and moves up and down with the waves, as was the case on the ferry. But, eventually we were able to fall into blissful sleep.
For a while.
About 3 hours after bedtime, around 2am, I awoke, shivering uncontrollably. The boat didn’t seem so cold earlier in the evening, and we were even making fun of our English wussy friends who thought the ferry was cold.
But the temperature on the floor is about 10 degrees colder than the couches 2 feet off the floor. Mistake number one.
Then, I realized that I couldn’t move. My shoulder had locked, and my hip was definitely bruised from sleeping on my side. It took about 5 minutes to excruciatingly extract myself from my twisted position and roll over.
I realized our initial mistake in choosing the floor as our bed and attempted to relocate to the couches, but of course it was too late – the prized beds were snapped up by other sleepy passengers.
Then, it happened.
The ferry stopped in Bella Bella to pick up a few more passengers at this ungodly hour. I’m guessing that most of them were drinking hard to pass the time until the ferry came, because “quiet – people are sleeping” didn’t seem to be part of their vocabulary. One particularly rowdy group of people were making such a ruckus, I was sure they were actually setting up a tent in the common area. Another family of 3 with a small child came and set up shop near to us, and to pacify the child, they played a DVD of James Bond – at decibels that would be practically unacceptable during the daytime, much less when people all around were trying to sleep.
Nothing like good old 007 to lull your small children to sleep.
So, with 3 hours sleep under our belts and drunken foolery taking place on every side of us, we became punchy. Shivering, we lay there actually writing this article together verbally. Unfortunately we didn’t have the presence of mind to whip out the laptop and start typing, so what you see is what we remember from the foggy tiring night.
Next time, Matt: we’ll listen to you. We promise.