To anyone doubting demand for Alaska ferry service, may we direct your attention to a single sentence in an announcement made Friday by the Alaska Marine High System.
AMHS was announcing that the state ferry Matansuka would be making a special trip to Bellingham, Washington, next month to accommodate the more than 250 potential passengers (many with accompanying vehicles) who were on a wait list for ferry transportation north to Alaska.
Now, one might think that a wait list of 250 prospective passengers in April might be the biggest eye-opening statement in such an announcement. But there was more.
“AMHS anticipates the May 23 sailing will fill up quickly as there is no other mainline space available until late July on the Matanuska, and late August on the Kennicott,” the AMHS statement read. 
Ponder that for a moment. As of this past Friday, besides the special May 23 sailing, there was no northbound space available from Bellingham on an AMHS ferry until late July.
There’s a lot to unpack about that situation. But the most basic takeaway is that there are many people who would like to take the ferry to Ketchikan or points farther north.
Many of those people are going to have to find an alternative this year — an especially difficult situation if transporting a vehicle is required.
Now, we know that AMHS has been working to hire enough crew to get the state ferry Columbia back in operation. That would make a huge difference. And it’s great that there will be eight sailings this summer between Ketchikan and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.  
That said, the demand on the principal water route from the Lower 48 to Ketchikan and the rest of Alaska clearly exceeds supply at a crucial time of the year. 
Again: “... there is no other mainline space available until late July on the Matanuska, and late August on the Kennicott.”
The demand is there.