So now were cruising to Ketchikan!
We learned several things right-off about Alaska Inside Passage
cruising. This is the cruise to get a room with a view - we
didn't. We had the impression that the only time we would be in
the cabin would be to sleep but that also caused us to miss much more
viewing of whats going on around the ship as it cruises up the passage.
For instance - the ship has to pass through Seymour Narrows at about
Mile 195 out of Seattle. This pass, along with the Yuculta
Rapids to the east are the choke-points which have huge tidal flows
moving back and forth. Cruise ships are strong enough to blast
through but smaller ships and boats must time their passage to meet the
narrows at slack tide... once every six hours every day.
Having that inside cabin meant that we went through there at about
midnight with no chance to see the boiling Calderon of seas swirling
around the ship as we passed.
Still, this first day at sea took us several hundred miles up the
passage to our first port - Ketchikan, Alaska.
So, the crew has to find ways to entertain the passengers. The
ship has a jewelry store and they held a drawing to win an emerald
necklace. You had to pick from three emeralds on display and
choose the fake/manmade from the natural emeralds. We were lucky
and picked the manmade from the other two. Then we were entered
in a drawing to win a real emerald. You had to be present so we
timed our breakfast and went below to the jewelery store and just as we
walked up to the crowd - I heard "8122" and I thought - that number
sounds familiar - it was, it was our cabin number - we had won the
second prize - a silver necklace. Here it is. We are off to
a good start!
We had our gourmet dinner at the "Le Bistro" restaurant. Very
nice. We had a five course meal with special chocolate fondue
We were suited up for formal night. We had our picture taken in
the Observation Lounge next to the ships wheel. More on this
Observation Lounge later...
We arrive at Ketchikan on Monday morning to more clouds. It was
raining but we learned that Ketchikan is one of the more-rainy places
in Southeast Alaska so it was not a surprise.
Check this link for more info on Ketchikan, Alaska
We had breakfast on the back deck of the ship and noticed these boats
tearing out of port. Later we would learn that they were salmon
fisherman racing to their favorite spot to fish in the
Tournament. This view shows the Tongass Narrows. Ketchikan
is located on Revillagigedo Island which is to the left in this
We docked along Front Street with the ship overlooking Thomas
Basin. The view looking southerly along the bank shows the active
canneries and the Coast Guard base.
On the opposite side of Ketchikan is Garvina Island. There were
several houses along the beach and each house had a dock. I
noticed this interesting little aluminum boat berthed at one of the
I used the Meade binocular cam to take this picture. It looks
like it should be a sailboat bit there is no mast or rigging. I
like the lines. Notice the steel boat under construction on the
stocks up on the beach.
We got settled in and went ashore. There were benches along the
boardwalk which gave us our first look at the size and shape of the
Sun. It's a fairly big ship which at the time of its design back
in 1996 was the largest cruise ship at that time. Now there are
much bigger cruise ships. The catch with the bigger ships is they
may not be able to dock at the cruise ship destinations around the
world. These bigger ships use tenders - smaller boats to mover
passengers back and forth between the ship and shore.
This is a picture looking north up Front Street. Note that there
is another cruise ship in port. Eventually there would be four in
port at the same time - very congested. At the end of Front
Street is a tunnel that continues through to Grant Street.
Ketchikan's port is very nice. The planks that make up the road
are above the water and allow for the excursion buses to pull up close
to the ship for easy loading.
We had booked a crab fishing excursion in Ketchikan. We were
cruise-rookies so we knew nothing about how it worked so we just looked
for anybody holding a sign that said "crab fishing" and climbed up onto
The bus was from Gray Line and simply shuttled us out to the lodge for
the crab fishing adventure. The driver was Tsimshian
Indian. She said she had lived her entire life in
Ketchikan. She told stories about how the eagles have rebounded
and now populate the area. She also pointed out factoids about
Ketchikan including that Thomas Basin shown below - was actually used
as as a baseball field in the past. Huh? Baseball
field? Yes, before the area was dredged for the boat basin it was
the local ball field. And the tide is so high in this area that
part of the field would be inundated every six hours.
Along the way we got our first close-up look at the vegetation and
creeks and falls coming down the side of the mountains.
Our crab fishing adventure was hosted by the George Inlet Lodge.
Their link is listed below.
What a great facility. The bus dropped us off at the end of the
road and we had to climb down 75-steps to get to the lodge.
On the way down the docks came into view. I had seen float planes
before but not for a long time so it was cool to see one tied up at the
Then as we got closer another float plane cruised in.
The second float plane tied-off at the end of the dock. This was
also a chance to check out the fleet.
I took a movie of the area of the lodge... if you have patience and a
good Internet connection - try downloading the movie by clicking on the
We were loaded onto the tour boat and we headed up stream on George
The tour boat was a big pontoon boat with powerful outboard engines - I
believe ours had twin 300-hp Yamahas!
We had a Captain and a tour guide on board.
As we cruised upstream we passed an abandonded cannery. This one
was supposed to have been owned by the Libby Corporation and was shut
down when fish traps were outlawed in Alaska back in the 1950's.
Not quite abandonded though... we saw tourist walking out of a
side door of the facility.
The further we cruised into the inlet the more dramatic the scenery
became. This picture does not do justice to the drama of the huge
stream flowing off the side of the mountain with hundreds of waterfalls
pouring off the hillside.
When we arived at the location of the crab pots - the crew lowered an
underwater camera to check the pot for any crabs. You can just
begin to see the pot on the TV screen.
And it looks like there is a crab in the trap.
So the tour guide had us assemble on the front deck to raise the crab
The pot came into view in the clear water and there were several crabs
in the trap.
The tour boat has a nice table to set the trap on to study the
crabs. These are Dungenous Crabs.
We passed the crabs around and the tour guide taught us how to seperate
male from female, how to measure them, and how to carry them without
These traps are kept clean for the tourist - I bet they get banged up
pretty bad in daily use.
On the way back we begin to see Eagles. Several were flying along
the tree line and the tour guide pointed out this one sitting in its
nest. A little hard to see and we had to use the binocular cam to
take the picture - but just look close - he is there.
The Captain cruised us back down the inlet and we approached the lodge
anticipating the crab lunch that was part of the tour.
The inside of the lodge was very hospitible and the staff gave us
instructions on how to tear the crab apart to pull all the meat from
its joints and legs. Plenty to go around with seconds for
everybody. The crab was so hot it steamed and you had to be
carefull twisting it apart.
What a great day.
We rode the bus back to the ship and waited for our turn to leave the
dock. While we were waiting we watched a pair of float planes
takeoff right past the boat. If you have a good internet
connection - go ahead and download the file!
We had to wait our turn to leave port because of cruise ship congestion.
On to the next web page - Juneau