Our first port of call and destination we visited in Alaska was Ketchikan!
Set at the Southernmost entrance to Alaska’s Inside Passage, Ketchikan is truly the beginning of the last frontier. Ketchikan is known as “The Salmon Capital of the World” and has a huge fishing culture and wonderful seafood just steps from port. In addition to salmon, Ketchikan is located in the Tongass National Forest with beautiful scenery, wildlife and rich Alaska native culture.
Visiting Vancouver & A 49th State Alaska Adventure
- Vancouver: Rosewood Hotel Georgia
- Vancouver: Excursions & Dining, including Grand City Tour, Salmon Hatchery, Grouse Mountain & Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Alaska: Holland America Line and the Noordam Ship
- Alaska: Ketchikan Excursions & Dining
- Alaska: Juneau Excursions & Dining
- Alaska: Skagway Excursions & Dining
- Alaska: Glacier Bay Experience
- Alaska: Anchorage Glass Dome Train, Accommodations, Excursions & Dining
- Alaska: Denali McKinley Explorer, Accommodations, Excursions & Dining
- Alaska: Fairbanks Accommodations, Excursions & Dining
Arriving in Ketchikan
We were thrilled to wake up and find the charming and colorful 1st city of Alaska right outside of our veranda! We dressed quickly and headed off the ship eager to explore. One thing to note… I loved that all of our port days were long. We were docked in Ketchikan from 7AM to 3PM and made the most of it.
We were one of the first off and stepped foot in Alaska soil just about 7AM. Our first order of business was breakfast. We could, of course, have eaten on the ship but we wanted to spend as much time immersed in Alaska as possible. I researched each port before arriving had had a short list of ideas for meals on hand.
We popped in Sweet Mermaids to find a warm welcome and respite from the drizzle. Coffee and breakfast was wonderful! We all agreed that the lox and bagels were our favorite breakfast from the entire trip. Sweet Mermaids is right on Center Street and an easy walk from the port.
After breakfast we did a little exploring and shopping. Quite a few things were open even at 7AM. We purchased our one Alaska souvenir here in Ketchikan – a small totem pole with carvings that spoke to our family. Julie’s is the place for authentic made in Alaska finds and Ketchikan is the place to purchase totems, if you’re curious.
Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer
As we dive more into our trip you will see that our group of 10 did not do every single thing together. We had different interests and each planned our own excursions – some overlapping but many that did not. The Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer was one suitable for and of interest to everyone in our group with ages 6 to 71.
This was the one tour we booked through Holland America. However, you can book it direct through Allen Marine Tours. They are a family owned business and were wonderful to work with. We were originally split into two departure times and the morning of the excursion they moved us all to one, which we were grateful for. The tour departs steps from the port so no buses or transfers were needed.
The Misty Fjords National Monument is the crown jewel of Ketchikan. With blue lakes, snowcapped mountaintops shrouded in mist, sparkling waterfalls, harbor seals playing in the shores and eagles soaring over head, it is almost too gorgeous to believe. In 1978, over 2 million acres within the Tongass National Forest were designated as the Misty Fjords National Monument.
Our trip left Ketchikan and sailed past the Saxman totem village. We went through various channels and canals before passing New Eddystone Rock, an immense volcanic spire rising from the emerald sea named by Captain George Vancouver in 1793.
Happy Birthday, Sister! What a way to celebrate!
We finally entered Rudyerd Bay and Punchbowl Cove where we marveled at the pristine beauty and stillness of the Misty Fjords.
One of Honey’s favorite parts was seeing this Tlingit pictograph in the Behm Canal. This is one of the last traces of the Tlingit Indian tribes’ existence, where archaeologists have dated the area’s original inhabitants’ remains as far back as 10,000 years ago!
On the return ride, we were treated to bowls of chili and a salmon tasting. Throughout the journey, hot chocolate, water and coffee and tea were complimentary. Allen Marine also provided plenty of binoculars for use while on board. Speaking of which, each family in our group did bring they own and I cannot recommend enough investing in a nice pair for any journey to Alaska.
For this 4.5 hour round trip boat tour into the Misty Fjords, we were extremely comfortable on the spacious, climate controlled, clean, custom built vessel. There was plenty of space to move around and viewing was great from both inside through the windows and outside on the observation decks. The staff was super friendly and knowledgeable and a local guide provided commentary throughout the excursion.
I want to mention that I had originally hoped to head to the Misty Fjords via float plane. Two deadly float plane crashes in Ketchikan just before our trip had me weary of that idea and so we went by boat instead.
Alaska Fish House
Back on solid land, we were ravenous and chose to eat at Alaska Fish House. It is super close to the port, as well as the dock used by Allen Marine. This ended up being one of our collective favorite lunches in Alaska that we are still talking about! We did the Alaska Samplers with pieces of cod, halibut and salmon. They were all amazing! The chips were equally as tasty and the meal was served with slaw, tartar and malt vinegar. Honey and I also partook in a beer sampling from Denali Brewing Company. Alaska had some fantastic beers in every port and on the ship!!
Downtown & Creek Street National Historic District
We spent the rest of our afternoon exploring the Downtown and Creek Street National Historic Districts, which I highly recommend. This is something within an easy walking distance of port that doesn’t cost a thing. It’s been the scene of a Tlingit fish camp, sawmills and bawdy houses and has preserved its early-20th century charm. Be sure to walk the entire loop around to the salmon ladder (they weren’t yet running), Ketchikan Creek, Dolly’s House and back to Whale Park.
We absolutely loved our day in Ketchikan and wouldn’t change a thing! Other popular excursions are the Lumberjack Show and touring Dolly’s House.
Tomorrow we are in Juneau. Stay tuned!
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