For those PCSing to Alaska I can tell you my experience was awesome taking the boat up the inside passage from Bellingham WA to Haines AK. Other guys in the 517th have enjoyed the driving the whole ALCAN. I have young child and being able to get her out of the car seat for three days on the boat was great timing. If you chose the boat make sure it says you are authorized the Alaska Marine Hwy (AMH) on your orders where the rental car info normally goes. I also suggest you contact SATO at Elmendorf and have them set up your reservation with the AMH. If you do this all you’ll have to do is show up with you orders and military ID and reservation# at the ticket window. This means no hassle with finance after the fact. Definitely ask for the largest room you can get. A three birth is acceptable but I saw the four birth and if you can get it its worth it. Bring a camera an lots of film. I took over 200 photos with my digital and 4 roles with my Nikon N65.
Money wise I would tell you this. To earn extra cash stay the night in Bellingham before you get on the ferry. and Stay in Haines the first night you get off the ferry in AK. For some reason you will fill out extra paperwork for these places and get additional per diem of $100 plus per night. Keep your receipts for these hotels and make sure the receipt has Bellingham and Haines on them. If you spend the night in Haines when you get off the ferry you should be able to make it to Tok, AK the next day and into Anchorage the day after. Where to stay? In Haines we stayed at a nice clean motel you think would cost $30. Welcome to Alaska. It was $70, It was the first Motel on the left as you pull into town coming off the ferry. In Tok we Stayed at Fast Eddy’s Motel and restaurant. Again nice and clean with good food, nothing exotic. For TLF ask, No beg, for the two bedroom TLF. It is old base housing and it makes the month or so you stay in it so much better. There is a park out back perfect for kids. If you have pets try to stay in TLF at Fort Richardson. Elmendorf is fanatical about no pets. Remember Elmendorf is overseas so you are entitled to 60 days TLE/A whatever they are calling it now.
Finally, I should have said this first. MAKE CERTAIN YOU GET THE MILEPOST. Ask your sponsor to mail you one. Its the size of a medium phone book and shows you all the place you can stay and numbers to call and see if they are open. In the winter a lot of places are closed, so plan ahead. Our was but one of many ways to get here. Plan ahead and take your time and some leave. Some people pay big dollars for this trip, enjoy.
-submitted by 517th AS member.