We were originally scheduled on the M/V Columbia, which is apparently bigger and faster, but the Columbia was still down for winter repairs, so the Malaspina it was. We’d reserved a 2 berth, outside cabin (with a window) but ended up with a 4 berth indoor. This is the state ferry system, not a cruise line, so you take what you get. You can’t tell from the picture, but just to the left of the door was a small closet and a sink/mirror, and just to the right was a bathroom with toilet and shower. The extra bunks came in handy since I had so many bags, prepared for 4 months in Alaska.
The Malaspina had four decks-car deck, cabin deck, the main deck with cafeteria, observation lounge, bar and movie theater, and a smaller top deck with the solarium and recliner lounge. Travelers who opted out of a cabin had the option of pitching a tent outside the solarium (a covered but open portion on the back of the upper deck, with heaters and lounge chairs) or sleeping in the solarium itself or the recliner lounge.
Recliner lounge. This guy really wanted to be in the picture.
The bar was open from noon to 11. I noticed the same people at the same stools the entire trip up from Bellingham, mostly young-ish single men. Probably fishermen. I was unsurprised. The bar was pretty much one kind of Alaskan beer on tap, and a line of Crown Royal bottles, although Mom did manage to get a glass of white zinfandel.
The forward observation lounge where Mom and I spent most of our time. It was comfy and quiet and there was an outdoor deck in the front for watching for whales and bears (we didn’t see any).
The cafeteria. We brought along a cooler (there was an ice machine on our deck) and only ate dinner in here. The food was good enough… nothing special, much the same as the food at the cannery I’m headed to, basic food cooked in large batches and kept under warming lights. It was surprisingly inexpensive, about $30 total for each of us to have an entree with vegetables and share a piece of pie. The view out the windows as you ate was, of course, lovely.
There was ‘Alaskan’ art, maps, and quirky seafood/fishing advertisements and slogans everywhere.
I didn’t get a picture of the ‘movie theater’… it was a small room with theater chairs and two large flat screen tv’s. They played Alaska-themed documentaries during the day and feature films at night (Oblivion and Fast & Furious 6 on our trip).
All in all, the 48 hours on the boat was enjoyable, though I was starting to get antsy by the second day. It was really cool to go up the coast so slowly, watch the land change from Pacific Northwest coast to Alaska mountains instead of going abruptly from one world to another in an airplane. I think we paid about $800 for the two fares and the cabin (without cabin it would have been half as much)… not bad for a two day no frills cruise. I highly recommend!