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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

We aren’t the last for a change!

Day 10, Ketchikan, Alaska.

We arrived early at Ketchikan the ship was cleared for departures at 7am! We couldn’t understand why anyone would want to disembark at 7am since the town of Ketchikan was a 7 mile shuttle ride from the ship. Who knew if any stores would be open? Well weren’t we surprised! But more on that in a minute.

While we were getting dressed and ready this morning doesn’t another Norwegian ship sail right into the dock opposite us! Yikes! Another 1,900 passengers in town on top of our 4,000!

The Norwegian Sun in the foreground which was built in 2001 and our much larger Norwegian Encore which was built in 2019.

Yesterday when we received our “Freestyle Daily” in our cabin we were a bit confused on the timing of our excursion, and the ‘Back on Board’. The NCL app showed that our excursion was to last 2.5 hours, but that would have made us late for our BOB time. Richard of course took matters into his hands and called down to Guest Services who really were not giving him any clear answers, so he walked down to the Excursions Desk to get the matter cleared up. Our actually excursion itself was only 1 hour long. The shuttles for everyone to use to get back from Dock 4 downtown Ketchikan stopped running at 11:30pm because the BOB time was 12:45pm. Our excursion though had dedicated transport back to the ship immediately after our excursion, from where our excursion was taking place. If we wanted time for shopping though we had to go our early and catch a shuttle to town, instead of taking the bus that was dedicated for our excursion. PHEW! Its a good thing we’ve done this cruising before or we would have had absolutely no free time in town!

We had agreed that our group should meet at 8:45am to have enough time to get on a shuttle bus to town, allowing us time before our excursion to look around downtown Ketchikan. Unfortunately it seems that everyone else had the same idea and once we disembarked from the Encore it took us exactly 45 minutes winding our way through a large shopping warehouse, to reach a shuttle bus to town.

The warehouse of shopping. I guess when we docked at 7am this was open so anyone getting off the ship early could peruse the goods for sale.

Gary and Richard in line for the shuttle…40 minutes later!

We boarded our shuttle bus for the 7 minute drive to downtown Ketchikan and our bus driver told us that Ketchikan has 300 days of a rain a year, so our stunning, sunny day was unusual but very welcome by the locals!

We drove by the Ketchikan airport which is on a different Island from Ketchikan and which passengers must take a ferry over to catch a flight at a cost of $6. It looked like a very short ferry ride, but I guess everyone’s got to make a living somehow!

Our shuttle dropped us off at Pier 4 around 10am and we had a 15 minute walk to downtown Ketchikan where our excursion would be starting at around 10:30pm.

Ketchikan is known as ‘Alaska’s first city’ due to its strategic position at the souther tip of the Inside Passage connecting the Gulf of Alaskan to Puget Sound.

I quite liked the stained glass panels that were on the lamp standards downtown.

We found the location for our excursion quite easily, but did not have any time for shopping! WAH!

Chowder joint in Ketchikan!

The menu at the Alaska Fish House. I know someone who would have ordered the Dungeness Crab, but since it was only 10:15am, a cup of chowder was in order instead.

Someone is hungry for chowder!

Look at that chunk of salmon in Richard’s salmon chowder! $8 for a cup and Richard says its the best chowder he has ever eaten and he ate chowder all over Vancouver Island when we spent quite a bit of time on the Island with our RV Newman in 2020 and 2021!

Our excursion today was to see the ‘Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show’. The show reflects southeast Alaska’s history of logging and featured 4 lumberjacks on two different teams competing with axe throwing, running on floating, spinning logs, and various other lumberjack skills. The show was one hour and the grandstand had cushioned seats and was heated.

Getting a hot chocolate and some snacks to get us through the lumberjack show. Despite being in a heated grandstand, there was a cool breeze and the temperature was only 40F! Thank goodness for thermal underwear and lots of warm, wool layers!

Stage for the lumberjack show. Team Canada was on the right in Red and Black clothing and Team USA was on the left in Blue and Black clothing.

The lumberjack show was entertaining for the short 1 hour show. As soon as the show was over waiting 17 passenger mini vans took us directly from the show back to the pier 7 miles outside of Ketchikan where the time was 12:35pm. Our back on board time was 12:45pm, so we had absolutely no time to do any shopping in the big warehouse outlet store before we got back on the Encore.

One thing that we have missed on this Norwegian cruise was port talks. On Viking when we were on the Neptune for the World Cruise we would have a very detailed port talk 2 days before we arrived in a port. Despite our best efforts interacting with Guest Services and the Excursions Desk on the Encore to try and understand what would happen if we took an earlier shuttle, vs our scheduled 10:15am excursion bus to town, we still had no free time to explore Ketchikan. Had we known that the stores would be open at 7am when we docked, we probably would have been on a 7am shuttle to town to be able to explore the town. One of the highlights of Ketchikan is apparently the totem poles. With over 80 Native American Totem Poles in downtown Ketchikan, we didn’t have time to go and visit them. Port Talks really provide a broad overview of what there is in town to see and do and what is not to be missed.

Departing Ketchikan the sailing was really quite beautiful. We felt like we were in the Thousand Islands in Ontario, Canada! We left the Norwegian Sun behind at the pier as they were docked for the entire day in Ketchikan, making the Sun the last cruise ship of the season in this town.

We had dinner scheduled this evening at ‘Ocean Blue’ the speciality dining seafood restaurant. We had an 8:45pm reservation and the group did not want to eat that late, so Richard went and asked if it would be possible to stand by for an earlier table. The hostess asked us to wait at Sugarcane Mojito bar across the hall from the Ocean Blue and she would get us in earlier.

The food at Ocean Blue was delightful and probably one of the best meals we had on the ship. The guys had the Apple tart and said it was their favourite dessert onboard!

The rest of today and tomorrow are sailing days with a very short stop in Victoria, British Columbia in the evening.

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