Sitka Shore Excursions Overview
Nestled between snowcapped mountains and the Pacific Ocean, many of Sitkas shore excursions are meant to bring you closer to the islands natural beauty. Heres a list of some of the most popular shore excursions to do in Sitka. Most shore excursions are available through your cruise ship while some others are offered by local vendors at Centennial Hall.
Im convinced there is no such thing as a bad shore excursion in Alaska. Ive tried quite a few and there arent any that were a disappointment. That said, everyone has different expectations but its hard to find anything to complain about on an Alaska shore excursion. Here are a few of my favorite what to do in Sitka shore excursions.
Dining And Coffee Shops
Its not uncommon to overhear fellow cruise passengers say, Why should I pay for a meal in port when I can have free food back on the ship? Well, heres why. One of my favorite activities when Im on a cruise is the chance to experience all types of local food in port.
Maybe Im a bit jaded but after a while, I think cruise food gets monotonous. Plus, I think that a really great way to get to know a destination is to taste their food whatever might be the local specialty.
In the case of Alaska, and especially in communities like Sitka where fishing is top of mind, Im always on the lookout for whichever salmon is running , or the fresh catch of the day. For a city with such a small, year-round population, where to eat in Sitka includes over a dozen restaurants and eateries.
Unfortunately, if you only have one day in Sitka, its really important to know your choices ahead of time. Or at least try to narrow down your food search. Here are some of my favorite places where to eat in Sitka.
Map Of Alaska And Western Canada
Alaska, America’s “Last Frontier,” is home to craggy glaciers, raging rivers, snow-capped mountains and miles upon miles of wild, windblown tundra. The state shares a border and much of its topographical characteristics with western Canada — specifically, the snowy provinces of British Columbia and the Yukon.
Alaska cruises tour the Inside Passage, the state’s southeastern leg, from the cannery town of Ketchikan to Glacier Bay National Park. They also can traverse the Gulf of Alaska to reach Seward, the port for Anchorage, the state’s largest city, and other ports along the southern coast.
Alaska cruise tours, meanwhile, skim the coastline as well as explore the state’s vast interior. Common targets for these vacations are Denali National Park, about 150 miles north of Anchorage, and Fairbanks, a former Gold Rush town some 200 miles northeast of Denali. Some cruise tours even cross the border into Canada, making stops as far east as Calgary, Jasper and Lake Louise, all popular points in the province of Alberta.
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Backdoor Caf Literally The Entrance Is A Back Door In Back Of Old Harbor Books Also On Lincoln Street Its Kind Of A Throwback Coffee Shop One In Which I Feel Pretty Comfortable All Ages Congregate There The Coffees Good The Soups Are Hot And Theres One Or Two Lunch Specials Every Day
Bayview Pub Upstairs in the building across from Centennial Hall on Lincoln Street. Known for their rockfish, salmon burgers and tacos. Also, one of the few places in town to get a Baranof Brewbeer made in Sitka.
Beak Walk along Lincoln Street for about four blocks towards the end of the strip. When you see the suspension bridge in the distance, Beak is practically right in front of you, on your left.
Its in the old white-sided house on the corner. Enter around the back of the building, at the outdoor patio. Great salmon, fried salmon skin, everything is excellent. Brunch served on the weekends.
Fisheye Organic Café Right in back and across the street from the entrance to the Westmark Hotel, Fisheye Cafe is a favorite lunch spot for locals. If youre missing your daily shot of wheatgrass or just long for something organic, this is your place. Aside from a couple of daily specials, they also offer made-to-order crêpes with a variety of fillings.
Halibut Point Crab & Chowder Family-owned, what looks like a big, white circus tent is actually one of the best crab restaurants in town. And out of town, in this case. As soon as you step off your ship at the Old Sitka Dock, you cant miss it. A lot of cruisers will stop here for a late lunch after a shore excursion. Or a quick beer and chowder before sailing away.
Located diagonally across the street St. Michaels Russian Orthodox Cathedral right in the center of downtown. And surprisingly, not over-crowded on port days. Yet.
Ketchikan Alaska Map And Walking Guide
Smaller than Juneau, but substantially more populated than Skagway, Ketchikan is a moderately-sized fishing port located along the southernmost reaches of the Inside Passage: If youre northbound from Vancouver or Seattle, Ketchikan will likely be your first Alaskan stop. Situated on southwestern Revillagigedo Island, Ketchikan is a gateway both to stunning Misty Fjords National Monument and the fertile waters of the Northern Pacific, where many of Ketchikans seasonal residents spend extended stints fishing for salmon, krill, and crab.
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Best Sitka Shore Excursions
- Anything outdoors. Unfortunately, some excursions arent adaptable for someone whos mobility-impaired or requires a wheelchair. Aside from that, some of my favorite Sitka shore excursions of course involve being on the water.
- Sea otter quests, wildlife quests and any quest will get you out onto a small tour boat.
- Bike and hike, kayaking and scenic cruises are a great way to experience some of Sitkas beauty.
- For a really fun, low-key tour of Sitka, contact Jeff Budd at Sitka Checkered Tours. Hes been a tour guide in Sitka in his authentic old Checkered cab for many years and loves to show-off his town.
- If youre more land-based, theres a haunted ghost walk, a pedal pub crawl, and a painting class.
- Two attractions not to be missed are Fortress of the Bear and the Alaska Raptor Center. These two are usually included on an all-around Sitka type of tour. If you love bears, Fortress should definitely be on your list.
- Allen Marine Tours runs many of the whale-watching excursions. Family-owned and operated, try their three-hour Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest. Guaranteed to see a whale, sea otter or bear or you get a $100 refund.
- They also offer a Wildlife Quest and Fin Island Lodge tour which includes a sumptuous all-you-can-eat crab feast at their new private lodge.
San Francisco California Us Cruise Port
Few people would think of San Francisco as a cruise port city. And rightfully so, as many more visitors arrive by air, road, train or other means. The big commercial port of the area is across the bay in Oakland.
However, when considering the United States cruise ports map, ships sailing the western coastline of North America dock at one of the cruise terminals along Embarcadero street every summer. One could spend the day just on the piers visiting the Fishermans Wharf area for all sorts of entertainment: sailing the bay, visiting Alcatraz Island, dining etc.
Parking is convenient but expensive in San Francisco so its best to take a rideshare, public transit or have someone drop you off at the terminal. There are bicycle rickshaws along the piers so its easy to travel between the piers and attractions.
Some of the most popular things to see in the city are the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Palace of Fine Arts, Fishermans Wharf, Coit Tower, The Seven Sister, Nob Hill, SFMOMA, Yerba Buena gardens, the Missions etc. The list goes on and on.
Besides the famous landmarks, one can visit the lesser-known hidden gems of the community such as beautiful mosaic steps and sunset sail in San Francisco Bay.
For chocolate lovers, Ghirardelli Square is an absolute must. And its close to the piers.
Check out these San Francisco Tours:
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United States Cruise Port At Oahu
Cruise ships in Oahu, Hawaii dock close to the Aloha Tower Marketplace, which is conveniently located about a 10-20 minute drive from Honolulu International Airport. It’s very easy to book a tour from the Oahu, Hawai cruise porti too.
The most popular cruise line sailing the Hawaiian Islands is Norwegian Cruise Line. They are docked at Port of Honolulu Pier 2 and easy to access. You can get a taxi/Uber/Lyft from the airport and is about $30 USD each way.
For parking, the public parking is about ¾s of a mile away and the cost is about $21 a day. It may be easier to just take a taxi from the airport so you dont have to pay for a rental car and to park it for the duration of your stay.
Norwegians Cruise Ship in Hawaii used to do 7 day sailings around the island but has now included French Polynesia in some of their itineraries. It is like getting two vacations in one and you get to stay on the same boat.
Most cruises originate in and out of Oahu, so you will want to plan to stay an extra day or two as to not miss anything. Some things you should have on your Oahu bucket list include: a visit to the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, piping hot malasada from Leonards Bakery, shave ice, and some snorkeling.
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What Are The Best Alaska Cruise Ports
First-time cruisers to Alaska want to see glaciers and eagles and salmon and bears but they dont always know which port is best for the activities they want to do.
Not all weeklong Alaska cruise itineraries feature the same ports, so you need to know which destinations should be tops on your list. You dont want to travel all that way to find out that your ship stops in Sitka, when your dream excursion departs from Icy Strait Point.
All of the ports in Alaska offer shopping, dining, and hiking opportunities, but the best Alaska cruise ports offer diverse activities, landscapes, and wildlife. Learn more about these popular ports, so you can plan the perfect cruise vacation.
Note: This article focuses on the best cruise ports in Alaska, but Alaska cruise itineraries often include ports in Canada, as well. In addition, not all regular activities may be operating for summer 2022 or 2023 cruises, so check with your cruise line about available excursions, as they are subject to change.
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Where To Get Coffee In Sitka
Highliner Coffee Local hangout with fast wifi, Highliner servers coffee and espresso, plus baked goods, soups and sandwiches.
Back Door Café Literally located at the back door of Old Harbor Books, you can also enter around the back of the building, in the alley. In addition to terrific coffee and assorted teas, they also make fresh pies, cakes, soups and one lunch entreé.
Skagway Alaska Map And Walking Guide
At the very northern reaches of the Inside Passage, just before the lovely Lynn Canal tapers out, is the final Inside Passage port town on many northbound cruisers itineraries. Substantially smaller and more scarcely populated than Juneau or Ketchikan, Skagways isolation and lingering frontier-town appearance make it a hidden gem for the visitors lucky enough to spend time here. Even today, its not too difficult to imagine the bustling gold-rush that hit Skagway a century ago, when its saloons buzzed with activity and thousands of hopeful prospectors poured through the city gates en route to Yukon Territory.
Importantly, Skagway is by far the most feasible Inside Passage destination for accessing the true interior. Indeed, its one of the relatively few destinations in Southeast Alaska that can be reached from the mainland by road! For this reason, Skagway can be the ideal stop for venturing into Canada: Outings like the Bennett Lake Scenic Journey and Yukon Discovery Tour, for example, provide a fascinating means for exploring the pristine landscapes around iconic destinations like White Pass Summit, Emerald Lake, and Carcross.
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San Juan Puerto Rico Cruise Port
San Juan, Puerto Rico is the largest and busiest port in the Caribbean, accommodating up to nine cruise ships at once. Used both as an embarkation point and destination stop, San Juan features on many Caribbean itineraries and is the starting point for many Southern Caribbean cruises.
There are two cruise ports in San Juan. Royal Caribbean and other cruises depart from the Pan American Pier, about a 10-minute car ride from Old San Juan. The three piers next to Old San Juan are mostly used as port stops . The only exception is Carnival Cruise Line which departs and arrives in Old San Juan. Celebrity mostly uses the Pan American Pier, even for port stops.
Parking decks are available near both the Pan American and Old San Juan piers. Pan American Pier parking is available at the Sheraton or neighboring Isla Grande Airport. Parking is outdoors and varies greatly between $8.56 per day to $22 for valet. Several covered garages are located in Old San Juan, including a few near the piers. Most travelers arrive by taxi to avoid the cost of long-term parking.
San Juan offers a lot to the visitor. Old San Juan is a great city to visit on your own as everything is within walking distance. Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites or sample a pina colada where they were first created. There is lots to do on a port day in Old San Juan!
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Glacier Bay Or Tracy Arm Fjord
What to Do: You have a few options for how to enjoy this time spent onboard your cruise ship. Ideally, you have booked a cabin with a balcony. You can slide open your door, step onto your veranda and feel like you have walked into a landscape painting. You will have the chance to see eagles, Arctic terns, sea lions, porpoises and whales, as well as bobbing icebergs as you cruise along the pristine waterways.
This is a big day for photography, too, as passengers gather on the top decks to snap pics and listen to naturalists give talks about the geography, animals and history of the areas you are viewing.
I love to set up in a hot tub and order up an Alaskan Brewing Co. craft beer to soak in the surroundings that include snowcapped peaks, steep valley walls, waterfalls and glaciers, of course.
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Cruise Port At San Diego California
The United States cruise port in San Diego is one of the most convenient ports in the world. It mainly offers cruises heading south to Mexico or up the California Coast. But you can also find itineraries to Hawaii and even the South Pacific.
Holland America and Norwegian are the most common cruise lines that sail from here, but some ships from Silversea, Celebrity, and Disney Cruise Line have added San Diego to their United States cruise ports map.
Cruise ships dock right in the heart of Downtown San Diego. From here, cruisers can explore the top attractions of San Diego on foot, including the San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, the USS Midway and Maritime Museum, Balboa Park and much more.
If you still have not had enough time on the sea, you can do a Flagship Harbor Cruise to enjoy the sights of San Diego from the water. You can also hop on a ferry to cross the bay over to Coronado Island. Explore its quaint downtown, the famous Hotel Del Coronado, and its magnificent beaches.
Another fun excursion is a trip to La Jolla. Here, you can check out the seals sunbathing on the rocks, go kayaking around the caves and watch the sunset over the stunning coastline.
If San Diego is the starting and endpoint of your cruise and you need to park your car, your best option is airport parking the airport parking lots are a short cab ride away from the San Diego cruise terminal. If you arrive by Amtrak at Santa Fe station, you can even walk to the cruise terminal.
Cruise Port At Icy Strait Point In Hoonah Alaska
When we think of the United States cruise ports map, one of the most magical ports is in Alaska, And it may not be as readily recognizable as a city like Juneau, their capital. But it’s definitely one of the most interesting! This US Cruise Port, Icy Strait Point, earned the award for Port of the Year by Seatrade in 2020.
There is a ton to do here, including a Ziprider zip line that will knock your socks off, a salmon cannery to tour, whale watching excursions, and an awesome gondola ride. Though it’s possible to arrive at the port with a flight and a ferry ride, most people arrive via cruise ship.
Walk along the beach with a local beer in hand or try a Crabby Bloody Mary in Hoonah. Get to know the native people, the Tlingit, through cultural performances and interactions. Interestingly enough, the port is actually owned by about 1,450 native Alaskans, many with ties to the Tlingit.
Cruise lines that commonly sail to Hoonah, Alaska, to visit Icy Strait Point, are Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, Cunard, Oceania, Windstar, and more.
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Ketchikan Alaska Cruise Port
As the Salmon Capital of the World Ketchikan is one of the top cruise ports in the United States. While you can book a flight to Ketchikan through a 90-minute flight from Seattle, the easiest way to get to Ketchikan is through an ocean cruise from either Anchorage, Seattle, or Vancouver.
Most major cruise lines offer sailings to Ketchikan during the Alaskan cruise season, between April and September. Popular cruise lines visiting Ketchikan include Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival, and Celebrity Cruises.
One of the best things to do in Ketchikan is explore the nearby Misty Fjords National Monument. This stunning Alaskan landscape stretches over 3 million acres and is the spot to find moose, sea lions, killer and humpback whales, wolverines, and much more!
Another fantastic Ketchikan activity is seeking out the Ketchikan totem poles. This beautiful Alaskan cruise port is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world, each representing a unique story of the local native tribes.
When you are visiting Ketchikan, make sure to try some of the best salmon in the world. There are plenty of street vendors located downtown offering free samples. Overall, Ketchikan is truly one of the most remarkable ports in the United States, perfect for any cruising adventure.