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shore excursions necessary in Sitka and Ketchikan?


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We are taking the helicopter ride in Juneau. When we dock in Sitka and Ketchikan, are there things to do if we don't book shore excursions? Can you walk to town? Any excursions you could recommend?



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It's been awhile since we were there, but I am sure the towns haven't moved! Both Sitka and Ketchikan are great places to walk on your own. They are compact and not spread out and fun to see. In Ketchikan(on HA) we were tendered, but left off right at the town center. Sitka the same way. The only thing you might want to consider is that Sitka is wonderful, but small, so won't take you long to do your own thing. So if you want a day to get off the ship for just alittle while, then do so there. Ketchikan will take a longer time to do. However, unless you live close, Alaska will probably be one of those once in a lifetime things, so do consider doing a tour that suits your interest. My husband went salmon fishing in Ketchikan and I toured the area and we both enjoyed ourselves. We did our own thing in Sitka and enjoyed that too. P.S., yes, we carried as carry-on a box with a 35 lb.(frozen) Salmon in it all the way home to Florida!

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icon_wink.gif Alaska


Sitka is always a tender port. It is a very small town. You can see everything in an hour's time. You might want to take the wildlife and sea otter tour. We did it twice here. Saw lots of whales, sea otters, harp seals, and other wildlife.


In Ketchikan - bigger town and lots to see and do. Great place to shop. Don't forget to stroll down Creek Street and see Dolly's house.



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In Sitka: don't miss the Raptor Center. No need to book a tour. The Center provides frequent guided tours through their site. Each tour finishes with a video and a talk by one of the Naturalists. A Metro shuttle bus stops at the dock, runs through town out to The Raptor Center and circles back every half hour. The shuttle fare is $7.00, good all day. The Raptor center’s web site is at: http://www.alaskaraptor.org/. There are great photo ops here.


Ketchikan has a shed on the dock with about twenty different tour desks lined up waiting for you. No need to book in advance.


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Our cruise several years ago had four Alaskan ports and it was quite easy to tour Ketchikan and Sitka on your own. In Sitka, we walked from the tender drop off site to the national park and toured the totem poles. Then we walked over to the Raptor Rehabilitation Center and toured it. I agree this is a must see. On our way back to the tender pickup, we toured "downtown" Sitka including the russian orthodox church.


In Ketchikan, we bought tickets for a trolley tour at the visitor center. That way we got to see more of the area. It was only $20 and we went out to the center where they make totem poles (I can't remember the name). It dropped us off in downtown area so we toured there as well.


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Last year in Sitka we did the sea otter and whale watch. The tour was great, much better then anticipated.

In Ketchikan we did the jeep tour. It was wonderful. You canoe, hike and take jeeps onto the old logging roads.

I highly recommend both of these tours.

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THe nice thing about Ketchikan is that it is well set up for you to either tour independently, walking around town- or you can buy a tour from one of the dozen vendors set up at the pier. Since the weather was nice when we were there we opted to kayak.



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When in Sitka don't miss the Russion Orthodox Church. It is in the middle of town (which is very small) and has amazing artwork and usually a priest who will answer questions about its history and the art and icons. IMHO it is well worth the $2 admission.

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The Russion Orthodox Church has free admission if you show them you have purchased another excursion. I am not sure of which ones. I know we did the Whale and Sea Otter excursion and it was great. I orginally wanted to take that tour then was worried about rough seas so chose the Whale Watch in Juneau. Well, we were so impress with that Whale Watch and found out that the same company operated the Sea Otter Excursion we bought that excursion on board. I am really glad we did they were both great. I would not hesitate to take either excursion again.

And yes, we did go thru the Russion Orthodox church it was very beautiful we just showed them our excursion tickets at the door and had free admission.


Lisa L


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I never recommend just getting off the ship and walking around. Research the ports AHEAD of time and have your plans and any reservations in place before you leave. Request each visitor guide www.sitka.org

www.visit-ketchikan.com Especially in Alaska the tour possibilities are just excellent. Look over a shore excursion list, skimp elsewhere in favor of tours. In Alaska ALL ports are worthwhile (unlike the Caribbean icon_smile.gif ) and vastly different from each other. At the very least get walking tour maps for some direction.

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If you like the nature thing, the national park in Sitka is nice. Depending on when you go, you may see enough salmon to make you never want to eat anothter. (they don't look very nice by the time they are swimming up stream) There are lots of Totem poles and you can get an nice informational guide (for free, as I recall) in the park's musuem/interpretive cernter.


We walked all over Sitka...in the rain.


We walked up to the location of the old fort, took in an old cemetary, and then went into a real estate office. (learned that we could buy one of those islands for only $400K!!!) Then we walked to the park and back to the ship.


We spent most of our Ketchican time on Creek street. I bought a handful of tie tacks, as i recall, a totem, a salmon, a bear.... Got one one right now! It's a salmon. First time I ever got salmon on my tie and didn't mind icon_biggrin.gif


Have fun!


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I really enjoyed just walking around both Sitka and Ketchican, visiting the sites mentioned above. However, I agree with BudgetQueen that some preparation work will help you see both places and what they offer on your own.


If seeing more wildlife is of particular interest to you, one of the tours would be best. Cruise ships usually offer both land based and small ship/boat based wildlife tours.


You probably already know this, but to be sure you can enjoy each place bring rain gear and shoes/boots that are rain resistant. It may be beautiful and sunny, or very wet. However, if it is raining (or pouring), if dressed appropriately you will do fine. Ketchikan has an unbelieveable amount of rain each year. This gear may be very handy for standing on the ship deck as well. You never know about southeast Alaska weather, so just "go with the flow".

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Just got bach from Ketchikan. At the visitors center on the dock you can get walking tours of town. One tour takes you to creek street area. The other along the west water front where there is a seafood plant where eagles hang out. We walked down there and there had to be about 30 eagles fishing for food. It's number 17 on the walking tour. There is a better view down by the jetty.

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Just returned from May 28th cruise. We didn't have enough hours in the day to "see" both Ketchican and Sitka. They are great walking towns.


In Sitka, be sure to go and tour the Russian Bishop's House. Guided tours are 30 mins beginning at hour and 1/2 hour. Go early and view all the museum stuff first. Tons of history and facts about the town's origins.


Great shops in both towns, but DH and his friend walked back into the town a few blocks and even into a grocery store the locals use. They had a good experience doing this.


No excursions were necessary for us here.


"Thanks to all for your help & advice. Our May 28th cruise was much better for it!"

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I agree with the postings of both Ketchikan and Sitka being easy to walk towns. I take either Fodor's or Frommer's travel guides from the library so I have info ahead of time and then stop at the touist info site to pick up a map and go from there.


Did book an excusion in Ketchikan - SNORKELING !! It was amazing -- air and sea temp were 50 but with a wet suit, hood, booties and gloves -- only the first moment of "face into water" was cold! It is about a 3 hour experience -- travel to/from, gear up, travel to site and then about 1 hour+ in the water!!!




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These are great ports to do things on your woen, if you've done your research. We saw a great Native American show in Sitka, saw the raptor center and the heritage exhibits (totem poles) at the end of the island. We walked around Ketchikan and saw the main streets and the salmon run, using a walking tour from a guide book. However, if wildlife is your # 1 reason for being there, find a good tour. We took great sea life tours in both Juneau and Valdez, so we did other things in Sitka and Ketchikan.

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