Located on Revillagigedo Island, Ketchikan is 90 miles north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia and is the first Alaskan city you reach when cruising north. The town is approximately 30 miles in length and not more than 10 blocks in width as it hugs the steep bluffs of the forested landscape. Incorporated in 1900, Ketchikan has a population of about 8,500 residents and is the sixth largest city in Alaska.
Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of totem poles located throughout the city as well as at several parks and heritage centers. If you enjoy the rain this may be the spot for you. The annual rainfall is 197.8 inches and they recorded 42.69 inches of rain in October of 1974. Their economy is based around commercial fishing, canneries, government services, and tourism. In 2018 the city saw more than 40 cruise ships making over 500 stops in the harbor and bringing more than one million visitors to town.
We must be living right; we arrived in Ketchikan about 6:30am with sunshine and scattered clouds but no rain. After breakfast we walked north of the ship towards the older part of town where the locals shop and work. There was a Safeway market connected to a very small two-story shopping mall with many empty shops. Then we walked just south of the ship to the tourist area of town where there is one tourist shop after another. The main street is filled with diamond and jewelry shops while the other streets are mostly filled with salmon shops, souvenir clothing and small gift items. We did experience a light rain sprinkle but it did not last long. The town streets were very clean and flower filled with tulips, rhododendrons and other spring flowers.
We sailed away from Ketchikan about 3:00pm bound for Juneau. The skies had scattered clouds but the light rain sprinkles had quickly passed and it was a beautiful afternoon. The naturalist onboard was on deck helping people spot wildlife in the area as we sailed. She spotted a bear and her two cubs and a bald eagle but they were quite far from the ship and you needed good binoculars to see them.
Late afternoon we attended a program with our cruise director Nick called Ancestral Memories. Nick narrated the story of the local native people whose land was sold to the United States by Russia although the natives believed that Russia had no right to sell land that did not belong to them. Alaska was then broken into several pieces, each to have schools built and laws created to control the native people and to make them more American. They were forced to give up their native languages, their natives dances and dress. They were forced to attend schools where they were punished for who they were.
After dinner we attended a musical presentation in the Lincoln Center Stage with a pianist, violaist and violinist. They performed a variety of musical numbers from famous operas as well as a collection of serenades. They are all very accomplished musicians and we enjoyed their concert very much.
The main stage show on this evening was another dance program called Musicology. Six dancers performed in front of a screen projection of a variety of musical instruments. The dances created the feelings of each instrument’s sounds. For example, a flute may have a soft humming sound and the dance might be flowing but a drum may have a lot of quick bold movements to the dance.