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A Guide to Exciting Things to Do in Ketchikan From Cruise Ship in 2024

Hello fellow adventurers, let’s get started on the things to do in Ketchikan from cruise ship. I recently embarked on a thrilling journey to Ketchikan, Alaska, right from my cruise ship. Known for its rich native heritage and being the “Totem Pole Capital” of the world, Ketchikan offers a fascinating blend of culture, nature, and local flavors. Let me take you through a vibrant day exploring this unique town, packed with things to do right off the cruise.

Step off the Ship and Into Adventure

As soon as our cruise docked, we were greeted with a convenient, complimentary shuttle service that took us directly to the heart of Ketchikan. We got dropped off at Berth 4, starting our exploration on a scenic boardwalk leading into the bustling downtown area. The lively walk is lined with quaint shops brimming with intriguing finds.

Things to do in Ketchikan from cruise ship
Sailing in on the Norwegian Jewel into Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo Credit: Tim Mektrakarn

Treasure Hunting in Local Shops

Strolling down the vibrant streets, we dove into numerous local shops, each offering a glimpse into Alaska’s rich culture. A must-buy is the Ulu, a traditional curved knife perfect for your kitchen adventures, often crafted with unique bone or wooden handles. Don’t forget to grab some smoked salmon, beautifully packaged in zip packs or cans, making it a delicious souvenir or a treat for later. For those who love art, picking a hand-carved totem pole or Native American crafts is a way to bring a piece of Alaska home.

Plenty of shops along the boardwalk in Ketchikan. Photo Credit: Tim Mektrakarn

A Tour Through Totem History

No visit to Ketchikan is complete without exploring its famous totem poles. We joined a guided tour that showcased spectacular totems around the city, including the majestic Thunderbird and Chief Johnson poles. Our journey led us to Totem Heritage Park, a serene spot that houses one of the largest collections of unrestored 19th-century totems. It was an enlightening experience to learn about the deep stories and legends carved into each pole.

Thunderbird totem pole in Ketchikan
Thunderbird totem pole in Ketchikan: Photo Credit: Tim Mektrakarn

Culinary Delights in Ketchikan

While the city does have a few fish houses, the Alaskan Fish House stood out with its delectable fried fish. For a different taste of local cuisine, I recommend trying The Crab Cracker Seafood Bar, known for its fresh crab legs and seafood chowder. For a more rustic experience, Sweet Mermaids near the cruise dock offers excellent coffee and fresh-baked treats, perfect for a quick snack.

Smoked salmon store in Ketchikan
Smoked salmon store in Ketchikan. Photo Credit: Tim Mektrakarn

More Things to See and Do

After refueling, it’s great to connect with nature by visiting the nearby Deer Mountain Trail, a popular hiking spot that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes and waters. For wildlife enthusiasts, a visit to the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center provides interactive exhibits and information about the local ecosystems and wildlife.

For those interested in a bit more adventure, consider booking a seaplane tour for an unforgettable aerial view of Misty Fjords National Monument. These tours provide a spectacular perspective of the deep fjords and towering cliffs.

Downtown in Front street
Downtown Front St in Ketchikan: Photo Credit: Tim Mektrakarn

Wrapping Up the Day

As our day in Ketchikan wrapped up, we took the shuttle back to our cruise, hearts full of the day’s adventures and our hands full of unique Alaskan souvenirs. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or just in search of a new experience, Ketchikan offers a delightful escape full of surprises, all easily accessible from your cruise stop.

So, if you find yourself cruising through Alaska, make sure to step off at Ketchikan for a day of exploration and adventure. Trust me, it’s a stop you wouldn’t want to miss!

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