We plan to go back to Alaska next year or the next. I am having trouble finding a ship that goes to Sitka. We missed it this year and were hoping to see it when we go again. Does anyone know why the itineraries seem to omit Sitka?
I don't really know, but it seems to be a smaller port, which requires more use of tenders to go ashore. Also, it's on the ocean side, which requires travel into open seas. We were there last year on the Amsterdam and it was our favorite port. I think several of the HAL one-way cruises go there, but few of the Vancouver round trips (the Amsterdam sails out of Seattle). I believe some of the Celebrity ships go there as well. Check the Mercury.
Carnival only stops in Sitka on northbound sailings. There are only so many stops they can make in 7 days and Sitka has no docks and rarely has many ships in port. As Carnival- some ships make the stop going one way and Ketchikan the other. But if going one way- I would never consider a route without College Fjords- a major reason to go one way besides added interior touring.
I've found several that go there this year but do not have it on their schedule for next year. The Legend of the Sea isn't even listed for Alaska next year. Carnival Spirit isn't listed as going to Sitka next year. HAL hasn't come out with their new schedules yet.
I was wondering if they are building a new dock or something and can't have any ships until it is completed. If so, I as thinking maybe they would have it completed if we postponed until 2005.
The schedules do seem to change year to year. I was just reading a press release that Carnival next year will visit the 4 inside passage ports but only glacier will be College Fjords, this would be an option for a repeater but for a first timer to miss Glacier Bay or Hubbard would be significant in my opinion. Same with some one way sailings not going to College Fjord. I also always liked stopping in Valdez of which few go to now. (will be stopping next trip via land touring). Sitka has no plans for any docks, from my local sources.
Crystal includes Sitka in all its 2003 and 2004 Alaskan itineraries. I'm looking forward to biking the coastal path near the Starrigavin Estuary, hiking around the Tongass National Rainforest and visiting historic sites in the former Russian capital, including the Theobroma Chocolate Factory!
We were in Sitka August 6th, during a Holland America sailing. The townspeople we encountered were all extremely friendly and the weather was sunny and hot. We went on the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest Excursion and saw three humpback whales breach continuously, and a huge groups of otters. We had a fabulous lunch in a very small restaurant. Sitka was far and away our favorite port of call in Alaska.
I'm sure it was just timing. We caught shopkeepers having a bad day I suppose. And we were rushed due to our too short time to visit. There was light rain which wasn't a problem.
We were told that since the seas had been so rough we probably wouldn't even stop there ( a grand piano flew off the stage and smashed onto the floor....not to mention the goods in the shops)....but the closer we got to Sitka the smoother it got.
Peter---were you in Sitka last Friday?? We were on the Veendam and had quite a stormy night Thursday with the rough seas and high winds...our 9 am tour was cancelled, but we managed to take the bus around town and made it to the Raptor Center. ..and of course, I managed to do a little shopping, too!!
Yes, it was last Friday. We watched you pull in to the harbor. I think we were in Juneau together as well, and maybe Ketchikan (sunny, clear, beautiful).
As I mentioned above, on Thursday night/Friday morning, there were really rough seas. I was actually surprised we didn't get seasick (many did). There was a grand piano on the main stage of the showroom and it was thrown off and smashed on the floor. And many glass shelves were shattered. The gift shops were a mess. Actually since we didn't get sick, it was sort of fun.
We were going to take the bus to the Raptor center but felt we would be rushing it too much so we just strolled thru town instead. One shop smelled of mothballs. In another my son saw a trinket with an Alaskan flag on it and a Russian flag on it. He asked my wife if the red flag was the flag for Sitka. A clerk (not helping us at the time) turned and snapped "SITKA DOESN'T HAVE A FLAG!" Really nasty. And another shop had a snippy clerk as well when a youngster was looking at a nesting doll set. "You'd better not break that or your parents will pay!!!!" The kid was just holding it.
So this is why we had a bad taste of Sitka. I'm sure if we went again, it would be ok.
Peter -- After Sitka we went north to Hubbard Glacier on Saturday, then docked in Seward on Sunday. We spent a day in Anchorage before flying home...so I guess I'm glad we missed the Vancouver mess. We had mechanical problems on the plane out of Anchorage, but luckily we weren't too late and were able to run to our connection when we landed in Seattle. By the way, after we left Sitka the seas were rough as we headed north, but not as bad as Thursday night (thankfully). The Captain did comment that it doesn't get much worse than it was!! Hope you enjoyed the rest of the cruise, even with some foggy weather!!
The Celebrity Summit goes to Sitka. It is a small island with a very Russian historic background. There is an interesting Russian Orthodox Cathedral, reconstructed after a fire years ago. During the fire, the townspeople were able to rescue all of the icons and treasures, which are now on display. The original blue prints were used and it looks just like the one that burned.
We did our own walking tour and it was enough. That was the only day it was cloudy and it started to sprinkle as we were getting on the tender back to the ship.
Explorer to E. Carib. 1/12/02
Explorer to W. Carib. 1/18/03
Summit Alaska cruise/tour 8/3/03
At the end of each cruise, guests are given a survey which asks them to rate each port of call. It could be that many of the guests placed Sitka at the bottom of the list. I know it was definitely our least favorite port. We didn't mind the tender to the dock, but we really expected lots of Russian history, etc. We were also disappointed with the shopping. We just did our own walking tour, and I agree that Sitka is pretty, just not as interesting as other ports.
Celebrity Summit 9/5/03.
Sitka was far and away our favorite port of call. I had phoned ahead and found a wonderful local restaurant and we were the only cruise passengers to dine there. We had a wonderful smoked salmon chowder and a delicious Caesar sald with bacon-wrapped sea scallops. Sparkling cider was served in long-stemmed flutes.
We each won a shore excursion for the Sea Otter Wildlife Quest with Holland America, and that was simply terrific. It would be worth it at the $100 that was charged, but was even better free!
We are very bored with Ketchikan, and would love to see that dropped in favor of other ports, but since it is in the Inside Passage, and we want to go through the Inside Passage as opposed to the outer ocean, we realize we don't have much chance of it not being on the itinerary.