Finishing a series of posts, especially when returning from vacation, can be a challenge and this one is no different. So, in the interest of getting this done, I’m going to combine our last three days into one blog post.
Thursday, May 18
There isn’t much to Sitka. We took a school bus (free) from the dock to “downtown” Sitka. Downtown consisted of two streets, about three blocks long with tourist shops lining them. There is a Russian Orthodox church in Sitka. It had a traditional “onion” dome and another, elongated dome. That was the most interesting thing about downtown. I heard someone say it had 23 miles of streets but I’m not sure where they are or where they go. Sitka hugs a mountain with the water lapping at its shores. It was overcast and cold but didn’t rain.
In 1799, the Russian territorial governor, Alexander Baranof, had a wooden fort and trading post in Sitka. Then he moved Russian and Aleut fur hunters there from Kodiak Island. The natives objected to these people infringing on their hunting grounds and burned many of the buildings and murdering the settlers. Baranof returned in 1804 with a large group of people and fought the natives, driving them to the other side of the island.
In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the US for $7,200,000. The deal was brokered by William Seward, the head of the Department of the Interior. The price of the land was $7 million, the $200,000 purchased an ice factory. At the time, Americans were not pleased with the expenditure and Alaska was referred to as “Seward’s Folly.”
We walked around awhile and then got back on the ship. One of the problems on this ship is maintaining an even temperature. Even though very, very few people have gone out on the deck – which always lets cold air inside the ship, some of the lounges are warmish and a lot of them are downright cold, so cold we can’t sit there. Our cabin is much the same. When we come in, it’s very cold. We turn up the thermostat and it gets a little warmer, but it’s never hot.
Friday, May 19
Ketchikan is known as the rainiest city in all of Alaska. They get over 200 inches of rain a year. The city was built around a salmon cannery located at the mouth of Ketchikan Creek. Ketchikan was also known for its red light district that, at one point, had 30 “sporting houses.”
We were pleasantly surprised to find blue skies and warm temperatures when we disembarked. Ketchikan is similar to all the other cruise ports we have sailed into. It consists of a few streets with what I refer to as “Cruise Shops.” Diamonds International can be found in all of the ports we’ve visited in Mexico, the Caribbean islands, and all the stops we made on our Panama cruise which was two weeks long. We stopped in Columbia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama City and more.
We spent an hour or so walking around and then went back to the ship. We’ve found a favorite lounge by a large window so we can see the ocean, clouds, and fog.
Saturday, May 20
Victoria, British Columbia
We had to turn our clocks forward an hour so now we are on Seattle time again. It means an hour less sleep
but I haven’t felt it. We arrived in Victoria, British Columbia at 6:30 pm and planned to get off the ship for awhile. It stays light until a There is a law governing cruise ships with a United States itinerary. If you are on a cruise like this one where you leave and return to an American city – in our case Seattle, the ship has to make a stop in a foreign port before returning to the US. That’s why we are stopping in Victoria, British Columbia. If you take a cruise from Los Angeles to Hawaii, the ship stops in a city in Mexico, often Puerto Vallarta, before returning to Los Angeles.
So we got off the ship and were standing in a long line to get a taxi. There was a young woman in her twenties standing behind us with her parents. She spoke English just fine but her parents were from China and had a very limited English vocabulary. I think they understood more than they could speak. Either way, the three of them were very funny, exceptionally nice and a lot of fun. We agreed to share a taxi since we all wanted to visit the same place. When we got to the taxi stand, we ended up with a very funny, nice man. We talked it over and the place we wanted to see was already closed. He offered to take us around the island and show us the sights. And he did an exceptional job! I can’t remember laughing that much. It was the most fun I had on the entire cruise.
We agreed to share a taxi since we all wanted to visit the same place. When we got to the taxi stand, we ended up with a very funny, nice man. We talked it over and found out the place we wanted to see was already closed. He offered to take us around the island and show us the sights. The price was reasonable and we all climbed in. One of the places we stopped was a large park where we found this peacock. It must have been mating season because he was really strutting his stuff. Our driver did an exceptional job! I can’t remember laughing that much. It was the most fun I had on the entire cruise.
It was the perfect ending for the cruise. Overall, when I go on vacation, I want to be somewhere warm. I want to be able to get off the ship and sit on a beach. So, if you love wildlife, beautiful scenery (it is a very beautiful state) and don’t mind wearing long pants, warm shoes and hoodies or parkas, Alaska is the cruise destination for you. My one word of caution is to make sure you read reviews of the cruise line and the specific cruise ship before booking.
I’m looking forward to the next cruise already!