Six AM comes early, but that was the time we were scheduled to land in Ketchikan and with only 3 hours in port and a lot to see I wanted to make sure I was off that ship as quickly as possible.
The night before a woman I had met on the ship, Lynn, and I decided we would go explore Ketchikan together. She really wanted to see totem poles and I really wanted to see Creek Street so we figured if we teamed up we could see more and hopefully keep each other on track because if you’re not back at the ferry when it’s scheduled to leave it WILL leave without you.
We made an agreement to make sure each other were up on time so we could get out and off. The wakeup call proved unnecessary however because as we approached the port the purser came over the loud-speaker to let us know. For some reason the announcements would just reverberate off of the steel on the deck and there was just no sleeping through it.
Thankfully, as we pulled into Ketchikan, even though it was overcast it wasn’t raining yet. However, having grown up in Seattle I knew it could start raining at any time so I made sure I was fully prepared in case it started (and it did).
As soon as we got off the ship we were approached by a man who runs a shuttle into town (the ferry docks about 2.5 miles outside of the tourist center while the cruise ships port right in the middle of town). For $10 they would take us into town and then bring us back later. We figured it was a good deal so we went for it.
And a big plus of getting into port so early? We beat all the cruise ship passengers to the hot spots. Hooray!
If you rub the totems stomach you were supposed to get money within in hour. Unfortunately It didn’t work.
This cruise ship towered above Ketchikan. I’m sure if you put our ferry next to it, it would be like putting a Chihuahua and a Great Dane next to each other haha.
Pardon the poor quality of the photo but the river through town was literally solid with fish. I had to document it. Do you see them?
I had a blast exploring. After being on the ship for a full day it was nice to get off and stretch my legs. unfortunately by 8:00 the rain had caught up to us and we were experiencing a full on downpour so we hopped on the shuttle and headed back to the ship.
Now, if you remember, I had been sleeping in a tent attached to the top deck of the ship. unfortunately, when you’re set up on the steel deck of a ship the water has no place to go, so, when rain might not be a huge problem when you’re camping elsewear, on the ship it was a huge deal. While my stuff fared pretty well, poor Lynns entire bag was soaked. By lunchtime only 3 tents, including mine were left. Then the wind picked up and all the rest of us decided to just take our tents down. We didn’t want to sleep in them at that point anyway. Thankfully when people got off in Ketchikan reclining chairs underneath the solarium opened up so I was able to just claim a spot on an open chair and veg out.
Only a couple sad little tents left. Mine was the grey one.
My new bed under the solarium for the last night on the ship. It was actually really nice!
And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. Honestly if I went back and did it again I would probably just skip the tent and sleep on the chair from the beginning (with a sleeping pad of course). The only thing is, the heat lamps that hang overhead (and are constantly going) make you really sleepy. That coupled with the rain made me want to sleep all day, so, to prevent myself from missing out on everything I headed back up to the forward viewing lounge to charge my laptop and do some writing.
We began our approach into Wrangell at 2:30 that afternoon and as we got close the water visibly changed from a murky brown to a glacial blue. It was really cool.
The contrast between the regular water and the glacial water was intense.
Even though it was raining I decided to get off the ship in Wrangell, just to say I had been there. Wrangell and our next stop, Petersburg aren’t on the cruise ship route because the passages are to shallow/narrow, so I knew it would be a unique opportunity to see the town.
unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and literally everything was closed, even the grocery store. It was like a ghost town. The only sign of life was a little girl and her mom sitting under a tent selling garnets. apparently there is a rule in Wrangell that only children can sell garnets. I thought that was interesting.
Looking back at the Columbia after getting off in Wrangell. See what I mean about it being dwarfed by the cruise ships?
After an hour we were once again on our way toward Petersburg.
As we cruised through the channel we passed tons of little fishing shacks and little fishing communities. Even in the rain it was cool to see. There were some points during the voyage were we came so close to land that it felt like I could toss a rock and make it to shore. No wonder the huge cruise ships can’t get through.
Some of the channel markers the ferry had to navigate through. Insane.
I kept looking to see if any wildlife would show themselves. It looked like prime moose/bear country, but I think even they avoided the downpour, bummer.
After being disappointed in Wrangell I decided I wouldn’t even try to get off in Petersburg. The town is much larger than Wrangell but the rain was pounding and our stop was pretty short so I decided it just wasn’t worth it and elected to take pictures from the deck instead.
Even though the weather for the day was disappointing I still really enjoyed the sights. I’d love to go back and cruise through there again on a day with more favorable weather, although I hear those are few and far between.
Stay tuned for day 4, the last day on the ship and the first day of my roadtrip!