Ketchikan and the Inside Passage


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North America » United States » Alaska » Ketchikan
July 20th 2012
Published: July 24th 2012
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Salmon Capital of the World
20th July ’12 Ketchikan

A grey, rainy, blustery day and we have arrived in Ketchikan - The Salmon Capital of the World. We are moored up right along the Front Street in the old historic town, which is…. yes you guessed it, lined with jewellery stores and souvenir shops! Again we got off and ran the gauntlet of stalls and people holding signs offering tours at lower prices than the ship.

We started the hunt for the coins and charms and found the stores had given up completely on trying to get you to try on or buy their wares, which was a godsend. In one shop they were selling lots of Sarah Palin election promotion items like fridge magnets and postcards saying things like Run Sarah Run! 2012 election and Sarah says I can see Russia from my igloo!

The shops were chaotic and a frenzy of spending, jostling cruise ship passengers, we got in and out quick! After a small salad and 3 puddings back on board we set off again to see the town. By now it was raining hard and there weren’t many people around and trying to do a tour or venture further
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Chief Kyan Totem Pole
afield was just pointless. So we walked to the real historic area and looked at totem poles and the tiny park areas. We then crossed over to Creek Street and discovered it was the notorious former red light district and home to some famous ladies – Dolly Arthur, Thelma Baker and Black Mary to name a few. Eventually in 1954 prostitution was out lawed (it was called rehabilitation) and there was a brilliant copy of an original poster advertising 3 weeks of Glorious Bargains on Creek Street before rehabilitation. A lot of the brothels closed down, however certain of the ladies continued to live in their homes and Dolly Arthur stayed there until she died in 1975.

By now it was raining so hard that we returned to the ship. I was eagerly anticipating dinner tonight as according to the menu we read at lunch time there was going to be hot fudge brownie sundae!! Woo hoo! Again my hopes were cruelly dashed when it did not materialise instead we were told to take a tiny piece of chocolate sponge and add some ice cream – WHAT????!!! Following this let down I persuaded Howard to give the Name that
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Chief Johnson Totem Pole
Tune session a go in one of the bars and we actually had a good laugh. Snippets of songs from movies were played and you had to guess the film. It was run by DJ Steve (the one from England) who went up in my estimation when he told us the story about being asked to play some music as the introduction to the ship’s guide and ranger talk when he was working on another cruise, they were entering the Misty Fjords and he put on the theme to Titanic, apparently the Captain was not amused!

After all that frivolity it was a quiet night apart from our visit to the Late Night Snack Spectacular – our first time and we were lured by the theme….Desserts! Although I have to say based on the week’s desserts so far I was not optimistic.

Long tables had been set up around the sides of the indoor swimming pool and we were allowed in 15 minutes before hand to take photos!! So we went along and there was an impressive looking display with ice sculptures and a giant chocolate fountain, lots of big cakes, hundreds of small portions of the puddings
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No i didn't buy it!
we had had all week and then we spotted the chocolate strawberries. So we sat and waited, the chefs came out in their whites for photos and then paraded in a line around the room to the sound of Sugar Sugar and everyone clapping.

Then it was opened and people rushed to get in the various queues. I waited until the stampede died down a bit and then went up for a plate of chocolate strawberries and a visit to the chocolate fountain. The rest of the desserts were really only the same things that we had been served all week and not a single chocolate fudge cake in sight! People had plates piled high with goodies and kids were running around with chocolate smothered faces and everyone was eating at top speed so they could get back for more – it was indeed a spectacular spectacle!

21st July ’12 The Inside Passage

Howard’s birthday today and a full day at sea sailing through the Inside Passage and it’s raining again. Today’s ship schedule offered activities ranging from - Rolling Dough: making cinnamon rolls, to learn to Cha Cha, the art of towel folding, Final Jackpot Bingo,
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Looci don't look!!
celebrating a vigil Mass, sing a long show time with the HAL Cats and finally ROCK IT TILL WE DOCK IT with DJ Steve, hmmmm so many choices what shall we do?.....

I know let’s go to the library and watch the sea, sea, sea go by while Howard plans Vancouver sights to see and I type up the blog, a break for lunch, back to it again, spot some whales in the distance, have dinner, and then up to do Name That Tune – this time it was American TV Shows and we scored 8 out of 12 and beat the American couples near us but sadly didn’t win. All that’s left to do now is pack our rucksacks ready for the morning.

So how do I sum up our cruise experience? Well the dining options clearly highlight the difference in the classes – Lido and casual versus Rotterdam and formal. Even in the Rotterdam there is a two tier system, the top floor being the upper, the bottom being the wannabe uppers! It shows in the cut of their clothes and the number of jewels on display.

Half the time the ship feels like a
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The Rock
floating holiday camp, organised quizzes, games, team tournaments, the shows that are put on nightly and then there is the other side which is cocktails and dancing, string quartets and the dress code. It’s just bizarre.

The fact that the suggested packing list reads like something out of the 1950s clearly indicates they want to achieve a sophisticated genteel atmosphere, which is totally at odds with the fact that the Olsen twins were chosen to dedicate the ship in an attempt to attract a younger crowd. I must say there were a vast number of people who had followed the packing list to the letter and ‘there is no place in Alaska that a man in a sport coat and slacks cannot go’ became the catchphrase of the cruise.

Lots of people clearly love this form of taking a holiday, revel in the dressing up and taking part in all the activities and good on them, others are out and out snobs and seem to see cruising as part of their social standing.

I have enjoyed the trip, the touches of luxury have been a nice change, the access to lots of food we wouldn’t normally have has been good but I will be happy to leave it behind for a while now! Also we would not have been able to get to see the places in Alaska that the cruise took us too easily by ourselves and certainly not as cheaply. If you are going on this cruise I would definitely recommend taking binoculars there is lots of sea life to be seen and that was great.

Given the choice between another cruising holiday or backpacking in India I know which one I would pick and put it this way I wouldn’t need any sea sickness tablets!


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My favourite spot!
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My favourite place
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Dessert Spectacular
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On deck
My cruise souvenir!My cruise souvenir!
My cruise souvenir!

Don't you just love it!


25th July 2012

Although we didn't do our cruise with only backpacks as part of an RTW...
we also prefer the casual...hence having to miss the formal dinner. We don't do cruises as a general rule, but only where this is the only way to see the places we want to go to. It's hard to do Ketchikan and Sitka other than by ship. Likewise, it's hard to do South Pacific islands other than a cruise. Anyway, I look forward to you being back on land again.

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