August 29, 2022 – Shortly after the ship docked in Ketchikan we boarded a bus for a scenic drive to Herring Cove in the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. The tour started with a nature walk on an easy path through the forest to raised boardwalks beside Eagle Creek. Our guides Bryn and Claire were on the lookout for Black Bears that come to the creek to fish for salmon. We learned Eagle Creek is named for the many Eagles that are often seen there. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any that day.
The scenery was spectacular and we found bears! There were eight bears sighted including three cubs. Some of the bears were walking through the dense woods and others were far off at the edge of a field. I saw seven of them but was only able to capture this adult black bear feeding on berries and wading in the creek in search of salmon.
We came out of the forest and walked to the Alaska Raptor Center where we were introduced to these three birds. The birds were rescued after receiving injuries that would prohibit them from surviving in the wild. The mission of the Alaska Raptor Center is to promote and enhance wild populations of raptors and other avian species through rehabilitation, education, and research.
Ketchikan is home to the most standing totem poles anywhere in the world. A native master totem carver told us how the totems are made before we walked outside to see some of the finished totems.
With about six cruise ships in port the town of Ketchikan was crowded with people as we rode back to our ship. There wasn’t enough time for us to explore the town.
Spending our last day in Alaska seeing bears, raptors, totems, and the town of Ketchikan was a great way to end our Alaska adventure.
August 28, 2022 – Our ship docked in Sitka just a short walk from where we boarded a boat for our wildlife cruise. Once again it was raining off and on all day.
Our captain took us through a narrow passage where we had a close up view of tree covered islands. Our guide was a naturalist who pointed out interesting things to see like the orange starfish in the next photo.
When the rain began I went back inside the warm, dry cabin. This humpback whale came up right outside my window.
The captain slowed down for a closer look at these sea otters. Some were just floating around and others were diving and playing. They are so cute and fun to watch.
As we traveled to Fin Island Lodge for lunch we spotted this American Bald Eagle hanging out in a tree close to the water.
We ate our fill of Alaskan crab, salmon, and prime rib with all the trimmings. Lunch was followed by a campfire on the beach where we roasted our own marshmallows to make S’Mores with locally make chocolate bars.
We boarded the boat for a ride back to the cruise ship dock where the rain was coming down in buckets.
The historic town of Sitka is located a few miles from the cruise ship dock. There is a shuttle which runs back and forth to the town. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time to visit the town. I did manage a few minutes of shopping at some of the shops at the dock.
Next up – Our last Alaskan port and more Alaska Wildlife
August 27, 2022 – We spent a week in Haines in our RV back in 2013. It was – and still is – our favorite place in Alaska. What’s not to love? This small town has friendly locals, few tourists, breathtaking scenery, and abundant wildlife.
Our ship was docked with a great view of the small boat harbor, the RV park where we camped in 2013 (in the above image) and historic William H. Seward. The tide was low when we arrived and we could see eagles on the beach.
This tender took us on a five minute ride to the shore.
Our excursion for the day was called the Chilkoot Valley Wildlife Safari. My goal was to see bald eagles and coastal brown bears.
Our transportation for the day was a 24 passenger tour bus driven by our driver and guide Cydnie. She drove up the hill from the dock to take us through historic Fort William H. Seward, a National Historic Landmark. This location was chosen as the site for a fort in 1902 and was the only permanent army fort in Alaska from 1925 to 1940.
Our first stop was a bridge over the Chilcoot River where we had a great view of the river. Sadly there were no bears but we spied a pair of Bald Eagles in a tree.
Our next stop was to see the Chilcoot River fish weir which is used to count the number of salmon swimming up the river. Someone spotted three bears on the weir!
Off we went in the van to get a closer view of these three Coastal Brown Bears. It was a mama bear and her two cubs.
After watching the bears for a while we continued on to Chilcoot State Park where we took in the gorgeous view of Chilcoot Lake and kept a constant lookout for wildlife.
As we passed by the fish weir again on our way to our next destination Cydnie stopped the bus when she saw this bear cub right by the road. I was lucky to the be on the side of the bus where he was and captured a few images of him. When he stood up to show us how big he was it was time to leave. Mama was in the river watching the whole time.
A picnic area next to the Lynn Canal was a perfect place for lunch.
Our tour continued on another highway to the mouth of the Chilcat River where we hoped to see more bald eagles. There were no eagles to be seen and we returned to the ship. By this time the tide had come in and we could walk back to the ship.
Watching the bears in Haines was one of my favorite experiences of the whole cruise. When we got back to the dock there wasn’t enough time left to explore the town. Even so, it was a great day. One day isn’t enough to experience this wonderful coastal town.
August 26, 2022 – More overcast skies and rain greeted us as we docked in Juneau, Alaska’s capital city since 1906. We didn’t let the rain spoil our day.
There were several other cruise ships docked while we were there. The photo above was taken from our veranda early in the morning before most people ventured into town.
Our first order of business was lunch at Tracy’s King Crab Shack. We took our place in the line outside and quickly placed our order at the counter just inside the door. We grabbed two seats at a table and our food was brought to us after a few minutes. The menu is simple – crabs, crab cakes, and crab bisque. For $190 you could get a three pound bucket of Alaskan King Crab legs. We opted for a combination of Dungeness Crab, crab cakes and crab bisque.
Our meal was delicious and the crab bisque was to die for. By the time we finished lunch the streets and shops were filled with people. As we wandered around the waterfront we discovered some totems and watched several float planes take off and land.
It was pouring by the time we boarded our bus to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Our bus driver told us interesting facts about the city and pointed out places of interest along the way. There were a few eagle sightings.
The Visitor’s Center is managed by the by the United States Forest Service in the Tongass National Forest. We walked along trails to get a closer look at Mendenhall Glacier, Nugget Falls, and the floating chunks of ice.
On our way back to the ship we stopped at the Brotherhood Bridge for another look at the Mendenhall Glacier.
After a full day in Juneau we were ready for some relaxation when we returned to the ship.