Cruising Alaska: Stopping Over in Sitka

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When SVV and I went with my family on a Holland America cruise to Alaska two years ago, we couldn’t have gotten luckier: brilliant blue skies, a shining sun and dramatic clouds (most days).

Sitka, Alaska

That said, my favorite days were definitely the ones spent at sea sailing through Glacier Bay, as unfortunately I found the port of calls too touristy for my liking—until we reached Sitka, that is.

Unlike Ketchikan and even Juneau to an extent, airbrush stores and trinket stops didn’t litter the dock. There weren’t loads of other ships anchored offshore—just our little 1,000-person boat—nor were there hundreds of tourists milling about. At times, we felt like we had the whole little fishing and mining town to ourselves.

Sitka, Alaska

Sitka itself was so small, there was no need to book an excursion. You could wander around town and find your way in the middle of a totem pole forest. (Note: If you’re planning an Alaskan cruise anytime soon, don’t let them sucker you into paying for tours unless it’s something really cool like glacier hiking or a helicopter ride.)

Cruising to Sitka, Alaska on Holland America
Cruising to Sitka, Alaska on Holland America

Many of the structures were more than 100 years old, and it was just such an odd feeling wandering through a deserted forest and then oh! stumbling upon 20-foot-tall totem pole by 20-foot-tall totem pole.

Each more varied and intricate than the last.

Cruising to Sitka, Alaska on Holland America
Cruising to Sitka, Alaska on Holland America

Alas, I don’t know what any of them mean, but can you imagine being the person who took years out of your life to carve such a marvel? I don’t even have the patience to finish knitting a simple hat in one sitting.

The funny thing is that as a child my grandparents brought me back a totem pole statue. It sat on my dresser for nearly 20 years until my parents moved, and my mom got some fancy designer to come in and do his thang (read: take away all our childhood memorabilia). It never occurred to me then I might someday actually see one in the flesh.
COMMENTS
  • March 5, 2010

    Makes me want to say “oooh” and “aaaah.” So I guess I will.

  • March 5, 2010

    Wow, those are so fascinating! This post really makes me want to go to Alaska…NOW.

  • March 5, 2010

    Whoa! A photo friday of somewhere I’ve been!
    I always thought that I’d hate The Frozen North, but Sitka in July was just about perfect. My brother moved up there for awhile… smarter than me, I moved to DC and got 60″ of snow this winter!

  • March 5, 2010

    Oh, I do love your pictures. Putting Sitka on the list. And I’m with you on the hat thing – takes me at least four sittings and many episodes of hyperactive bouncing-up-to-do-something-else.

  • March 5, 2010

    Great shots! We took a true small-boat (12-passenger) cruise in Prince William Sound a few years back, so I’m sure we’d have some hesitation about taking a large boat cruise because of the mega-touristy aspect of it…but Sitka and your totem pole forest looks like a good stop

  • March 5, 2010

    Just found you! Looks like you lucked out on this stop. Terrific pictures of the totems.

  • March 5, 2010

    love those photos!! the sky is incredible.

  • March 5, 2010

    My 2-week kayak excursion around Sitka in July was not as blessed with the drenching sun and lovely blue skies you so obviously lucked out with, but I loved it all the same. Sitka is a gem of a town. We camped a few days 10 or so miles north of town, and without a car had NO problem getting into town and back — very kind people are happy to pick up travelers with their thumbs out and share a bit of local history and travel advice during the ride. For one segment of our trip we paddled across Sitka Sound to camp at the base of Mount Edgecomb, the volcano you see across the bay, and climbing that was a real treat, (though my constant panic about running into a grizzly bear was not!) Also, took a pelagic birding boat trip for a day out of Sitka where you get real close to nesting puffins – so cute! One more thing – the 4th of July in SE Alaska is a total trip – it’s THE holiday here. I’ve experienced it twice. It’s quite the party!

  • March 5, 2010

    We absolutely love Alaska – every time I see photos it makes me want to be there.

  • March 5, 2010

    I’m with Sarah V. This post makes me want to book a ticket to Alaska right this minute. Your photos are, as always, gorgeous and I could almost smell the clean air. Have you seen the television show “Men in Trees” set in the fictional Elmo, Alaska? I love it. Thanks for this!

  • March 6, 2010

    Amazing photos. I have a friend who went on an Alaskan cruise a few years back and she said is was amazing. She’s pretty well traveled too, and said it was one of THE best trips she’s been on. Oh and your blog, so cool, I am such a fan now.

  • March 6, 2010
    SVV

    There is now a picture of me with my FAT tongue flappin’ about on the internets where I’ve channeled my inner totem (apparently a demon face-slobber-er.)

  • July 28, 2016

    I like this blog. thanks for the blog. it was very informative and the pictures are captured very beautifully.

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