Ketchikan, Alaska

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June 24th 2022
Published: June 25th 2022
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Today was a top-notch vacation day. ? We awoke to beautiful, sunny weather in Ketchikan, Alaska. We have been so lucky on this cruise to have the most pleasant weather you can ask for in this region. Every tour we take they mention how lucky we are to have such nice weather and every day on the ship announcements the Captain will mention once again how lucky we are to have such clear surroundings. Occasionally, we will be enveloped in a white fog and the ship’s foghorn will go off for a couple of hours but then it clears in an hour and we can see the mountains again. Today we were off the ship at 7:30am. I had booked the Bering Sea Crab Tour directly with the owners of the Aleutian Ballad. If you’ve ever watched the “Deadliest Catch” TV series then you know what I’m talking about. The owner of the Aleutian Ballad took that ship, spent 3X what the crabbing ship originally cost to build, and remodeled it into a Coast Guard approved tour ship. We’ve been all over the world on cruises and we’ve taken all sorts of ship and private excursions and this excursion today may be the best excursion we have ever taken in our life. Today was fabulous!

We got onboard the Aleutian Ballad and there was Captain Ron and Dave and the owner of the Aleutian Balad. All three of the fishermen that work on the boat have at one time been a Bering Sea Crab Fisherman. Captain Ron just got in about six weeks ago from the crab season so he is still actively fishing. They introduced everyone, gave a good history of how this tour boat came to be and of the Aleutian Balad’s most famous moment on the Deadliest Catch show – when a 60 foot tall (5 stories high) rogue wave hit the boat, knocked it over on its side, and blacked-out all the power. The boat and every crew member survived. To date, this is the most viewed episode of the show.

The tour then took us to a secluded inlet off Annette Island which is a native reserve which they have been given special permission to use their surrounding waters for this tour. The first little pots they pulled up had shrimp and some little crabs and some odd fish in them. There was a rare sunflower fish (?) or something like that – it looked like an octopus but it was not. We all got to see or hold most of the contents of the pots. After those pots were put back in the water, the boat slowly started floating near the shoreline as the fisherman tossed out pieces of fish….and bald eagles swarmed the boat, the air, the water… it was breathtaking! We watched them swoop up and down and all around trying to catch the fish! They told stories of the bald eagles as they swarmed around us with their wingspans seemingly close enough to touch. Finally, they asked that everyone put down the cameras and the videos and simply watch the final feeding. We did. It was perfect. This is not something we had expected to happen on a crab fishing boat and it was such a wonderful surprise. They said the bald eagles know their boat by now. Also, they aren’t hurting the bald eagles by feeding them a few fish because the eagles are on the island to feed on the salmon. They are already well fed. They didn’t take the boat out for two years due to COVID and when they returned this year.. the bald eagles were there, healthy as usual.

Next we pulled-up some crab pots and everyone got to hold the Dungeness crabs. The pots were about 400 feet deep when they pulled them. Captain Ron and Dave worked well together pulling these pots up and it was interesting to see and understand how the crab boat works. This boat was half show, half dangerous. They explained that in detail before the boat left the dock. It was great to see and learn so much about something I had only previously seen on TV. They passed around the shrimp, starfishes, crabs, and anything they brought up basically for everyone to hold and take pictures. They got some rare rockfish crab today which they say they might go a month and not see any of them and then they get a pot of 50 of them. Today, they had a pot of 50 of them. They close in their legs and look like rocks. The one they handed us did not want to open up at all. They also had a live tank with some King Crab they had already caught to show us what they look like and let us see them. They obviously can’t catch King Crab in 500 feet of water (more like 1200 feet of water) so we weren’t able to see those caught today – but they did simulate the fishing for us today and it was actually interesting.

Last but not least, they let you roam the boat almost the entire time you are onboard. They also let everyone line-up and take pictures with the two Discovery channel celebrity fishermen. They are environmentally friendly and animal friendly (as much as possible) as they explained everything that happens to each shrimp or fish they catch. Oh… the very last thing they did (I almost forgot)… is pull up a big barrel with a giant octopus in it!! They had baited the octopus for this tour but they would be releasing it afterwards. They fed the octopus some shrimp for its trouble. Ha This entire tour was a once in a lifetime experience. We loved it!

We were off the Aleutian Balad and back on our ship at noon. We weren't allowed to stay in Ketchikan past noon today because the ship will start heading back toward Seattle tonight (we won't arrive until Sunday). We had a quick lunch on the Lido deck and someone said it was actually 70 degrees outside! All I know is that it was sunny and the sun felt wonderful. We got on our balcony and I fell asleep out there while Kamie read. I had on long sleeves but no shoes and Kamie finally woke me up because he was afraid my feet would sunburn. I crawled in bed and took a nap. It was a great vacation day! ?

This afternoon I woke-up and walked a mile on the walking track, got some iced tea and then talked to Kamie while we sat at the Sea View Bar and discussed our tour from this morning. We took hundreds of pictures but the videos are even better. I won’t be able to load the videos from the ship so I’ll have to do that when we return home. I had a salad and a bowl of fruit for dinner and Kamie ordered room service. It’s almost 10pm now but it’s daylight (still sunny) outside and we are both wide awake. The ship’s Internet is testy at times so I have no idea how long it might take to load these pictures but I might try here in a little while.

Overall, today is the day I understood why people visit Alaska. Yesterday was beautiful too. The scenery is gorgeous, the mountains are impressive… but the interactions with the crew on that boat today plus all the animals and just the atmosphere in general was the cherry on top to a fantastic vacation. I know we have another day of cruising remaining but we will not return to Alaska (this year) so if you are wondering if Alaska is worth the extra money…. yes….yes it is.

Additional photos below
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The owner of the Aleutian BalladThe owner of the Aleutian Ballad
The owner of the Aleutian Ballad

This tour was his dream... he had some great stories to tell about crab fishing and about this boat. He currently owns 5 crab fishing boats so he's making bank but he's making about $100,000 a day when the ships are in town just on these tours. It took almost $3 million to convert this crab boat into a legal tour boat.

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