Travelling with Kids to Haida Gwaii on BC Ferries ‘Northern Adventure’

Planning our most recent trip to Haida Gwaii, I wasn’t expecting much when we boarded the ferry with our vehicle. As a kid, we took this ferry often in the few short years we lived on the island and I remember it being just awful. I kept on my game face as we were guided to park the car, and when we walked to the upper deck on the stairs, I was pleasantly shocked, to find out that this eight-hour ferry ride was actually going to be pretty comfortable.

Reclining chairs, a well-contained children’s area with televisions and a couple of sit-on toys, flat spaces for kids to lay down and a well stocked place to buy snacks and drinks, eight hours flew by.

We spent much of the sail atop the multiple decks where we enjoyed incredible views and fresh ocean air. On the top level, people napped on blankets perched on the deck, enjoying the sun and the salty air, families snacked and dined at tables and the kids made instant friends with the handful of children on the ferry.

Northern Adventure Overnight vs Day Sailings 

The Northern Adventure has a convenient overnight trip, where the ferry leaves at approximately 10 o’clock pm, and travels overnight, both ways. We would avoid this on the way to the island, because you arrive before six o’clock in the morning. That’s going to require you to get creative, or book an extra night of lodging to check-in that early but on the way home – it’s a life saver. You’ve got your entire last day to explore the island before you head to the ferry dock after dinner, board the ferry, grab the kids a snack and tuck them into the bunkbeds for the night. Six o’clock in the morning (you’ll have to wake before six to head back to your vehicle) and you’re ready to travel home.

Snacks, food and drinks are available on the Northern Adventure. There’s the typical chicken fingers and fries, soup, sandwiches and a few other options depending on the time of day. Priced reasonably, you can either eat the food in the cafeteria style space, or bring it back to the cabin. There is no debit accepted on board, only cash or credit – something to consider on an extended ferry ride.

The BC Ferries Northern Adventure Cabins

There was enough room in the cabin for both of the older kids (they slept on the top bunk) and two parents (we slept on the bottom bunk) and for a travel pack and play for Stella to sleep in. There beds are made, and extra fleece blankets are available from the service desk, if you’re cold. The kids brought their travel blankets with them on board, but we still asked for extras because the room was cold. Bring winter pyjamas (and maybe a sweater) if you’re going to sleep on the ferry, regardless of the season.

A full size pack and play likely wouldn’t fit in the space. We use this $72 Cosco travel Pack and Play and it’s incredibly portable, lightweight and can be set up and torn down in five seconds flat. It fit well in between the bunks,  but any larger of a model may be an issue.

The cabin was reasonably priced, at under one hundred dollars – and worth it for the overnight journey, not only to have somewhere for the kids to sleep, but to have the privacy (and private bathrooms and the option to shower). We had an interior cabin, with no views, as we had planned to put the kids to sleep, as soon as boarded, even before leaving the port.

The full cost of return tickets for two adults, two children and one toddler (free), plus one vehicle and a cabin was jus t under $800, between Prince Rupert and Skidegate and between Skidegate and Prince Rupert with the most expensive portion of that being the vehicle fee at $143 (each way), and the cabin at $97.