Port Buzz: Ketchikan, Alaska

Live Voyage Report: Ketchikan, Alaska via Holland America Line


Welcome to Ketchikan

From the looks of the photo above you would never know that just four hours earlier in the day my shore excursion in a float plane was cancelled due to fog. As an avid cruiser, I knew two things going into Ketchikan: shore excursions involving aircraft were not a sure bet and I had better be prepared for rain.

Ketchikan clutches the shores of the Tongass Narrows, with many shops and houses built right out over the water. The stairways are weathered and the vibe is cheerful in the town that calls itself the Salmon Capital of the World. Besides the main attractions – Creek Street, the Tongass Historical Museum, Totem Bight State Park and Saxman Village cruise visitors can get on the water to explore by land and sea.

Ketchikan waterfront with historic Creek Street in the distance

The island of Ketchikan is only 700 miles northwest of Seattle along the Inside Passage waterway. A popular cruise destination, Ketchikan offers visitors plenty of attractions: fishing, floatplanes, and cultural shows are the most popular.

For my day in port, I selected a float plane adventure to Neets Bay to see some bears.  But like my other attempt to see bears at a “guaranteed site” in Juneau, the fog put a damper on things and forced the tour operator to cancel. Since I am all about safety, especially when fog and a plane are involved, I made other arrangements.


Eco-Tour, Totem Poles, and Wildlife Tour

Surrounded by wilderness, the eco tour takes visitors into the interior

Our shore excursion team from Holland America Line was very helpful in making suggestions about other options. This was extremely fortunate because our call in Ketchikan was only five hours.  I was able to book an eco-tour that included a nature walk,  a visit to a raptor center and a stop to watch a totem pole artist carve his latest creation.


Ketchikan is surrounded by wilderness

A sign of a healthy eco system: lichen growth


Since Ketchikan is in the heart of the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest, the largest in the United States, getting a chance to walk around the temperate rain forest was a real treat.


Bear food?


Totem Pole

The tour continued from the rain forest discovery hike to the studio of Wayne F. Hewson, and Alaska native carver.

A pole in the making.

Wayne Hewson is a Tsimpshian from Metlakatla who answered questions while carving a bear paw from Alaskan red cedar. Having the world’s largest collection of totem poles in the world, cruise visitors will have ample opportunities to discover the significance of totem poles and their role in Ketchikan’s history, heritage and culture.




Reindeer velvet


And then back to the bear….

S0 by now you might know that part of my Alaska mission was to find bears. Twice I have been on shore excursions that were to deliver me to the habitat of the bears.  I was on the lookout for bears in the rainforest but I did not get a chance to see them, but I did now I was on the trail…

Bear paw prints next to the river adjacent to the nature hike.


Maybe next time….


Share on Social Media