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Cruising Alaska: May 2005
Radiance of the Seas


Page 3: Gulf of Alaska to Ketchikan

To Page 1: Whitehorse-Vancouver-Juneau
Page 2: Skagway to Hubbard Glacier
Page 4: Inside Passage to Vancouver


    The headliner show in the Aurora Theater as we crossed the Gulf of Alaska southbound was the Knudsen Brothers. Talented singers and comedians, they put on an excellent performance.

    The Schooner Lounge was a pleasant place to have a drink and listen to the piano player.

    Thursday, May 26: nearing Ketchikan.

    Art of various kinds destined for the many auctions held onboard could be seen all over the ship, here decorating the approach to some washrooms. We listened to the auctioneer for a while one night, but both soon decided that we didn't believe anything he said. Online reports about these auctions are generally favourable, but I'll stick with galleries I trust.

    The climbing wall on Deck 13 was great - by the time you get to the top, you're some 200 feet above the water. I made a couple of climbs as we approached Ketchikan, burning off last night's dessert, perhaps!

   

    The large scar from a logging clear-cut above suburban Ketchikan shows what one of the main economic drivers used to be (the other was fishing). Postcards of the community into the 1960s showed mills and fish plants jockeying for waterfront space. A small mill across the channel from this spot is about all that remains of the logging industry now.

    The approach to Ketchikan on a day like this is truly magnificent. The airport can be seen to the right.

    The Alaska State Ferry system has a fairly large maintenance facility in Ketchikan.

    The shops seen here are all new in the past 4-5 years, built on a dock rather than on land. Most of them are jewelry stores; Ketchikan has dozens of them. As in other cruise ports, the best (ie local) shops are blocks away from the cruise ship docks. See ExploreNorth's Guide to Ketchikan for information about the community and its attractions and services.

    Some ships have to tender at Ketchikan, a nuisance no doubt. It isn't clear how dock positions are allocated - Captain Bowland said merely that it was decided prior to the start of the season. Perhaps having to dock at Ballantyne Pier in Vancouver gives a ship priority placement at other docks. The Coral Princess was the unlucky one while we were there - we waited for the Diamond Princess to depart and took her prime location.

    Creek Street is the most unique shopping area in Ketchikan. Fishing rods can be rented there and you can try your luck right from the boardwalk. I enjoyed the signs seen in several shops: "Why are we not on your ship's Recommended Shopping list? Because we don't pay kickbacks to anyone!"

    This funicular (cable railway) takes people from the end of Creek Street to the Fox Point Lodge, from where you can walk back to town or to other attractions, It costs only $2 per person.

    At the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center, located on Ketchikan Creek, you can watch the process of raising King and silver salmon and steelhead trout. It is perhaps a mile walk from the docks, with no uphill if you take the funicular.

    The Deer Mountain facility offers the best opportunity to see bald eagles close up. A pair of flightless eagles (due to old injuries received in the wild) seem comfortable here, and there is neither wire nor glass separating visitors from them.

    A pair of machine-gun-toting Coast Guard Zodiacs had been close to the Radiance for much of the day, and we were escorted out of Ketchikan by them, with one on each side of the ship. Captain Bowland said that it was a courtesy to keep the channel clear, but I don't believe that (the Diamond Princess hadn't been given that "courtesy") and found it, while rather interesting, to be quite disconcerting.


Page 4: Inside Passage to Vancouver


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