A new ferry service is in the works for Alaska's rainforest islands. Stretching out through the pristine waters of the Inside Passage, the rainforest islands offer access to glaciers, mountains, ancient forests and caves and is a destination known for fishing and bear viewing opportunities. The 70-passenger, 14-vehicle ferry features an observation deck, recliner lounge, coffee shop and food and beverage service. It will connect Wrangell, Petersburg (via South Mitkof) and Prince of Wales Island (via Coffman Cove) four days a week, with additional service to Ketchikan (via Saxman) three days a week. The Rainforest Islands Ferry will also provide transportation between ferry terminals and towns on both Prince of Wales and Mitkof islands as well as to connecting points for recreational opportunities for travellers without a vehicle.
Recent scientific reports show that more gray whales were spotted this summer off the coast of Alaska than in any other year. The previous record for a full season from July through October was 18 calves, but in July 2012 alone, researchers counted more than 50 calves, according to the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. There are plenty of opportunities to see whales all year round in Alaska. The Southeast community of Sitka celebrates the marine giants with Whalefest, held this year from November 1–4. The event, hosted by the Sitka Sound Science Center, offers visitors a chance to learn about local marine wildlife through a number of presentations and discussions. The weekend also includes a community celebration with music, art and whale watching trips with some of the nation's best marine mammal scientists serving as guides.
New and increased services to Alaska by several international airlines have been announced, allowing even more international travelers to visit. Russia’s Yakutia Airlines is completely new to the state offering seven summer flights to Anchorage from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Korean Air will operate flights between Japan and Alaska for the first time (four summer flights) joining its current seven summer flights from Korea to Alaska. Japan Airlines will start service from a few new cities (Naha, Kagoshima, Matsuyama, Okayama, and Niigata), offering 21 summer flights. German airline Condor has increased its total number of flights to 73 this summer. Alaska business is on the rise, increasing 10 % to 154,000 visitors during the summer of 2011. Australia topped the UK as the primary origin followed by Europe and Asia.
June 4 is the departure date from Bellingham, Washington State., for the first-ever Alaska Marine Highway ferry run directly to Southcentral Alaska that won't require a highway trip from Haines to Valdez and a change of vessels in Southeast Alaska. The MV Kennicott will stop en-route from Bellingham in Ketchikan, Juneau and Yakutat before crossing the Gulf of Alaska to Whittier, reports the Turnagain Times Newspaper. The bi-weekly trip will take 4.5 days and cost around US$547.00 for walk-on passengers or US$.1.481 with a pickup or car aboard. Alaska Marine Highway officials told the Times that the car deck is almost fully booked for the entire summer.
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