Skagway or Sitka?

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#1
Cleveland Heights, OH
2,451 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
We will be going on a 7 day RT Alaska cruise out of Seattle and are looking at either NCL or HAL. The itineraries are pretty much the same except NCL goes to Skagway and HAL to Sitka. So my question is, Skagway or Sitka, any opinions?
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#2
Bethlehem, PA
4,658 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Big Sitka fan here. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed Skagway, in fact my DH felt our car rental there to drive up into the Yukon was his "favorite excursion" on our HAL 14 day itinerary in 2010. Scenery was breathtaking, and we saw lots of bears along the side of the road. Gold rush history and the White Pass Railroad are the big draws here. I'm not a big train fan - can take it or leave it - so the interest just was not there for me. I also found the town itself a bit too commercialized and hokey. But again - the scenery going up into the Yukon was pretty hard to beat!

Still - give me Sitka every time. Having been there 4 times, we just find it lovely, very unspoiled. The sail in thru the island studded harbor is drop dead gorgeous! We have gone kayaking there, taken two different marine wildlife searches there (highly recommend Capt. Davey @ www.puffinsandwhales.com) saw our first gray whale there, have done the 4X4 excursion there (that was a hoot - booked thru HAL) and have also gone sea kayaking (amazing scenery, great seeing the pastel colored starfish and the dinnerplate sized jellyfish - literally thousands of them!). We like walking along the water to the Totem Park and then walking thru the rainforest to the Raptor Center.

You've got a tough choice to make - read up on both ports and try to narrow down the what interests you most - then you'll have your decision.
#3
9,407 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Like AIP, I am a huge Sitka fan (HI AIP! ) .... but it is a tender port, and sometimes conditions are such that the tenders don't run, which means there is a possibility you will not actually GET to Sitka. Not a HUGE possibility, but how impressed would you be if you missed a port?

I'd pick Sitka every time but have been to Alaska a number of times, and am prepared to take the chance that we may or may not actually GET to Sitka.
#4
Cleveland Heights, OH
2,451 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Looks like Sitka may be the choice, I was leaning that way anyway. The history of the port interests me a lot. Since this is our first, and possibly only, trip to Alaska I would be disappointed to miss a port though.
Thanks for the advice Assateague Island Princes and CowPrincess.
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#5
Bethlehem, PA
4,658 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
You've very welcome - looks like you got the same advice from two of the "royal family" (that Prince/Princess connection!) - so how could you go wrong? (Hi CP!)

Whichever you choose, I don't think you could go wrong, and you could find plenty of interest at either port. If you DO choose Sitka, I'm hoping the God's of cruising smile fondly on you and you make it to port. Be sure to be up and out on deck for the almost magical sail in there. All four times, we've seen whales on the sail in and sail out of port.
#6
9,407 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
"the royal family" -- LOVE IT!

(AIP, we've cancelled our AK cruise this year, sigh..... and I can't see any way that I can afford it solo so no Alaska for moi this year. I hope your land trip is FABULOUS )

Satchiesmom, I think it is a good gamble to try for Sitka.
#7
Cleveland Heights, OH
2,451 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Any idea on what the ship would do if we were unable to tender into Sitka?
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#8
SoCal
433 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
If I thought this was my only trip to Alaska I would choose Skagway. The scenery going into the port is incredible and the trip along the road into Canada (whether you go by train, bus, or car) is gorgeous. Sitka was nice, but did not seem that much different than you see around Vancouver Island.
#9
Syracuse, New York
49,366 Posts
Joined May 2000
which ever one you choose you are missing the other.

Both clearly are very worthwhile, but I would never claim either "better" than the other, they are different. Find out more details about each and look over the slections of touring options. Make lists and use your "single" day best for your priorities.
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Happy Alaska travels

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#10
Fairbanks, AK
4,797 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Both Skagway and Sitka are interesting.

Skagway was founded in response to the Klondike gold rush and is a much smaller community than Sitka. I remember what Skagway was like in the mid-1980s, and find it very touristy now.

Sitka was founded in 1804 and is a much larger community than Skagway. It has a strong Russian history, and you also feel the Tlingit cultural presence. I love the Cathedral of St. Michael and the Russian Bishops House. I also love the Sitka National Historic Park, which is frequently referred to as the Totem Pole Park. The Sheldon Jackson Museum is part of the Alaska Museum, and is also wonderful. Sitka is also a very "arty" town, with galleries (versus the souvenir shops of Skagway).
#11
Anchorage, Alaska
3,051 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
They are both great ports. Sitka is a gem as it doesn’t have that over burdened by tourist feel yet. I rarely advocate spending too much time in any port town but Sitka is one of those that has a fantastic walking tour.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Guide-g60...ka_Alaska.html

Another thread with the same topic.
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...ighlight=sitka
#12
Danville, CA
393 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
I have been to Skagway twice and to Sitka once. I would choose Sitka just because it is so unusual and the local community definitely supports that. However, Skagway is a very historic piece of Alaska as well. It seems that not many ships go to Sitka any more, so I'd probably choose that because it seems easier to get to Skagway on a second trip. :-)
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#13
Cleveland Heights, OH
2,451 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Thanks for all of the great advice everyone. We have chosen to go with HAL to Sitka, it just looks more like my kind of place. Also HAL has more spacious cabins (there will be 3 of us) for less money so it works better all around. Now we just have to wait for the 2014 dates to come out.

Susan
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#15
Portland, OR
587 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Great choice - Sitka was one of my "must see" ports when we booked our cruise. Hopefully you'll love HAL & Sitka as much as we did.
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#17
Central Wisconsin
2,324 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by satchiesmom
Thanks for all of the great advice everyone. We have chosen to go with HAL to Sitka, it just looks more like my kind of place. Also HAL has more spacious cabins (there will be 3 of us) for less money so it works better all around. Now we just have to wait for the 2014 dates to come out.

Susan
HAL's 2014 Alaska dates are now available for booking!
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#18
Cleveland Heights, OH
2,451 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Thanks Sea42, we just booked this afternoon and got the same cabin we stayed in last time we were on the Westerdam. Should be a great cruise!
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#20
Texas
8 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
We saw many whales on the Juneau trip and a lot of different wildlife on the Sitka excursion. There was a particularly interesting sight with crayola in the name because of the many colors of the rock.
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