While it is a heavily trafficed ferry route headed out of downtown Seattle, the Bremerton Ferry is not quite as busy as the Seattle - Bainbridge Island ferry is. You will find that the vessels used on this route are usually one slight step smaller than those used on the Seattle - Bainbridge Island route, though they are still larger than those used on some of the other routes. As seen in the Travelogues (see below) on a clear day this route offers views of the Seattle skyline and various snow capped peaks in several directions.
Depending on the vessel used, that might mean there is no complete outdoor seating at all, though even on vessels with no upper deck there are semi-open park bench like seats under open air shelters at each end of the passenger deck. Depsite the longer voyage (1 hour vs 1/2 hour) compared to the Bainbridge Island ferry, the ships on the Bremerton route have considerably smaller restaurant facilities, but at least there are restaurant facilities on board. These include food vending machines, a self-service food cafeteria, and a small coffee shop. The full scale restaurant seen on the Bainbridge Island ferries does not exist here.
The interior of the typical Bremerton Ferry ship is also quite a bit narrower than those used on the Bainbridge Island ferry route.
The ferry route leaves Seattle on almost the same exact route as the Bainbridge Island ferry, so you still get the same Seattle skyline views from the outdoor deck. However, after getting somewhat away from the main ferry terminal, the similarity between the two ends. Bainbridge Island is mostly a straight shot from downtown Seattle, but the Bremerton Ferry must pass south, getting closer to the Alki Peninsula than the Bainbridge Island ferry does. After passing between Alki Point in West Seattle and Restoration Point at the southern end of Bainbridge Island, the ferry then makes a long sweeping curve to enter Rich Passage. A small peninsula juts out from the mainland here, which ends at Point Glover. The ferry must make a long curve around this point to enter the southern end of a straight known as Port Orchard that separates Bainbridge Island from the mainland. The ferry then enters Sinclair Inlet and docks at the Bremerton ferry terminal, which is right next to the Bremerton Naval Shipyard. It is not possible to ignore the huge aircraft carriers and other US Navy vessels in the shipyard, right next to the ferry.
While the voyage is about twice as long as the Bainbridge Island ferry, the ticket price is currently the same: $7.70 for walk-on passengers (ie, no automobile or other vehicle - June 2013 fares) and no charge for the eastbound trip for walk-on passengers. Due to all the running through narrow passages this is the more scenic of the two main ferry routes serving the main ferry terminal in downtown Seattle.
This also makes the Bremerton ferry a bargain for those wishing to have some time on Puget Sound in a boat, compared to the tourist cruise packages available elsewhere on the Seattle waterfront.
Other Related Stuff (note that these links will not show up as links if you are viewing this tip in the Bremerton Travel Guide, you need to see the tip in my personal Bremerton page for them to show up and work):
Washington State Ferries (travel tip from Seattle)
Photos from the Bremerton Ferry on a reasonably Clear Day (Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and Others are Visible)
Photos from the Bremerton Ferry during partly-cloudy weather
The Bremerton Transportation Center serves:
+ The Washington State Ferries Bremerton to Seattle route, including passenger only decks and automobile and larger vehicles on the lower decks.
+ Kitsap Transit passenger only ferries from Bremerton to Port Orchard and from Bremerton to Annapolis
+ Kitsap Transit bus routes serving the Bremerton area. Connecting bus routes go as far north as Silverdale, with further connections linking Silverdale with Poulsbo. Further connections from there lead to Port Townsend.
+ Mason Transit has a single bus route that connects the Belfair area with Bremerton several times each work weekday and Saturdays.
The facility is on two levels. If you are taking your car onto the ferry, you enter through a gate where you pay the fee for taking your car across. Almost the entire lower area of the ferry terminal is dedicated to the waiting area for vehicles to get on the ferry.
On the lower level of the structure, further towards the water, you will find a concrete walkway that runs along the water. This connects the ferry terminal with the marina and several other locations. Directly towards the water from this walkway is the segment of the ferry terminal that is reserved for the small passenger only ferries to Port Orchard or Annapolis. Currently, these ferry routes depart every half hour on weekdays.
The upper level of the Bremerton Transportation Center is dedicated to passenger boarding, as passengers without vehicles board the Washington State Ferries on the upper decks at this facility. There is a small indoor waiting room with seats where Kitsap Transit has its ticket and customer service office. Passengers for the ferries wait in a long glass corridor without seats, but you don't necessarily have to wait in line there. You can have a seat inside or outside the facility, and when the ferry arrives you know they will start boarding soon. Announcements will be made indoors so that you can sit in the Kitsap Transit section of the facility. All waiting in line in the corridor does is guarantee that you will be one of the first to board, in the event that you want one particular seat over the several hundred available on the ferry.
There are stairs and an elevator on the northeast side of the transportation center to get people between the upper and lower levels of the facility. If you are coming off of the ferry, go into the passenger terminal, turn right when you get to the end of the walkway from the ferry to the building itself. You will then enter a waiting room with a number of seats, and the Kitsap Transit Customer Service desk. Go all the way to the end of this room. Here you will go outside to find the staircase going down, or the elevator going down. The restrooms are also located at this end of the building.
As the upper level of the transportation center is where the passengers board and disembark the Washington State Ferries, that is also where the buses go when they come to the transitportation center. There is a long ramp on each side of the ferry terminal to get the buses to this upper level.
Also located on the ramps on each end of the building are sidewalks connecting the upper level of the building to the surrounding area, including stores and restaurants on the northeast side of the building, and a public park and museum on the southwest side of the building.
The main photo for this tip shows the Bremerton Transportation Center as it appeared on October 7, 2011, and as seen from downtown Bremerton. The upper level of the transportation center is where you see the buses, and this is the passenger area of the terminal. The ramp going down is actually the exiting area for vehicles that have come off the ferry. At the left side of the building you will see a covered glass area. This is where the stairs going down to the lower walkway are located. The waiting area with seating is in the waiting room of the main building, just to the right of this glassed in area. Passengers to and from the Washington State Ferries board and alight from the end of the building that is to the right. Further right and off the side of the photo is the Harborside Fountain Park and Puget Sound Navy Museum. Further left and off the side of the photo there is a hotel, several restaurants and a store.
This one's pretty obvious. There's no other fast way to get here from Seattle. But don't feel like you've been forced into something you don't want to do. Much of the reason for tourists to go to Bremerton is the breathtaking views from the ferry on a nice day. And it's not too expensive (when paying in Seattle, remember that your return trip will be free).
When you are in Bremerton, you have a few different options to get back to Seattle, the most popular option is to 'catch the ferry'. (Washington State Ferry) Puget Sound crossing time is approx. 55 minutes from Bremerton to downtown Seattle. You can walk on, or drive on and it operates from morning to evening every day. Whether it is day or night you will have a relaxing, scenic trip to Seattle. If it's a clear day, you will easily be able to view Mt Rainier to the south - especially spectacular at sunset.
There are several levels you can enjoy via stair cases (the brand new ferries have elevators - but count on using stairs) You can also sit on the top deck and enjoy the view or walk around. Great place to view the 4th of July or New Years Eve fireworks if you can time it just right
The ferries are big and modern and vending machines have snacks and beverages on board. The cafeteria on board is currently closed due to food service workers strike issues.
Passenger R/T: $5.70
Car & Driver one way: $12.70
(check web site for current fares and schedule - they are always changing)
Get in line early and as the saying goes "the ferry waits for no one"
Enjoy your ferry trip and take your camera!!