2012 summer ferry schedule released

The Alaska Marine Highway System has finalized its summer 2012 schedule. Officials have made only one change since a draft was released in August.

Captain John Falvey says the change involves the direction of mainliners during May.

“We had three southbound sailings coming through Sitka. Two of them involved the Malaspina and one with the Columbia. Sitka had some concerns. So we made an adjustment with the Matanuska and created a situation for one northbound and two southbound stops,” he says.

The draft schedule proposed a number of changes from this past summer’s version. All of those remain.

The fast ferry Fairweather will start calling in Angoon twice a week, connecting the town to Sitka one day and to Juneau the other. There will be one more weekly Juneau-to-Sitka sailing and one fewer Petersburg run.

The Malaspina, the main Lynn Canal ship, will reverse its route, beginning in Juneau most days instead of Skagway.

“So we’ll be starting out in the morning on the Malaspina, which is high-capacity day shuttle going northbound up the canal, except Sunday night, when it will overnight in Skagway,” he says.

Gustavus will get four weekly port calls from the small ferry LeConte, twice this past summer’s number.

Most other routes will remain the same. That includes the relatively new Bellingham-to-Whitter express, which has been well-used.

No major changes were made to sailings to and from Valdez, Homer, Kodiak, and other Prince William Sound and Southwest Alaska communities.

The new schedule is on the marine highway website at www.ferryalaska.com.