Plan to be on deck when your ship sails into Sitka Sound, particularly if it's a sunny day: The views of the town from the ship are beautiful.
Large cruise ships anchor in the sound, which is protected from the rough seas of the Pacific. Passengers are tendered to the visitors pier near Crescent Harbor or to O'Connell Bridge. Smaller cruise ships are at the visitors docks. It's an easy walk to town and to most of the sites, including the Sitka National Historic Park.
As of 2013 some ships also dock at Halibut Point Marine also known as The Old Sitka Dock, about five miles north of downtown Sitka. Shuttles will be provided.
Visitor information can be obtained from the visitors desk at Harrigan Centennial Hall, near Crescent Harbor, one block from O'Connell Bridge, or at the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau at O'Connell Bridge also is available when cruise ships are in town.
Its a beautiful, picturesque little fishing village with Mt. Edgecomb in the background, and the harbor studded with tiny jewel-like islands. Just spectacular! Great Russian charm, beautiful, friendly and clean.
New Archangel Dancers: When cruise ships are in town, these dancers perform lively, authentic folk dances from Russia (Harrigan Centennial Building).
Printable map to take along.
Cruise calendar for this port.
Watch a destination video.
Sitka, the only major city on Alaska's Baranof Island, is the beneficiary of three distinct cultures: Tlingit Indian, Russian and American. You'll find relics of all three cultures throughout the area. With the spectacular natural beauty of Sitka Sound, its fascinating history, unique totem park and Mount Edgecomb - a dormant volcano which rises above the harbor - Sitka is definitely a treasure in the Alaskan wilderness.
Sitka National Historical Park, 106 Metlakatla St., 907-747-0110
Visitor Center open year round: mid-May through September daily 8AM-5PM; October through mid-May: M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Closed on Federal holidays during the winter months. Over 12 years old $4, under free. Wheelchair accessible. The Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, totem poles, and museum exhibits are located in the building. Exhibits depict traditional Tlingit life. A short video reviews Sitka's history.
Russian Bishop's House open mid-May through September daily 9AM-5PM. Ranger-led tours are offered every 30 minutes. October through mid-May open by appointment only. 12 years old $4, under free. This original log structure built in 1843 is one of the last remaining buildings from the Russian colonial period. Not wheelchair accessible.
Park Trails open mid-May through September daily 6AM-10PM; October through mid-May daily 7AM-8PM. Free. Walk in a temperate rain forest under towering trees, observe migrating salmon, explore the intertidal zone, and study wildlife. A pleasant walk through the Alaska woods with interesting totem poles interspersed throughout the walk.
Alaska Raptor Center, 1000 Raptor Way, 1-800-643-9425, May-September Su-F 8AM-4PM. Adults $12, under 12 $6. Bald eagles and other raptors from all over the Western United States are treated at this 17 acre facility bordering the Tongass National Forest. See the eagles, hawks, falcons and owls up close.
St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church, 240 Lincoln St., 907-747-8120. Although the original was burned down and restored, the artifacts inside including the icons were largely preserved from the fire.
Everything is within easy walking distance of the tender wharf and there are no real hills to negotiate.
Transit Shuttle, Runs only on days when there are scheduled to be at least 1000 cruise ship visitors. May-Sept, M-F. Shuttle operates one hour after ship arrives in port up until ship departure. Stops every 25-30 min. at Crescent Harbor Shelter, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Sitka Nat'l. Historical Park, Alaska Raptor Center, a downtown stop by Random House, the Tribal Community House, O'Connell Bridge docking area. $10pp all day pass; $5pp round trip.
Public Transport is another good option:
Red route out along Halibut Point Road – 1 hour loop
Blue route out along Sawmill Creek Road – 1 hour loop
Green Route through town and over the bridge – 1/2 hour loop
$2.00 per one way ride for adults. $1.00 for seniors or persons with disabilities.
Most cruise lines offer a combined walking and motor coach excursion that features a tour through the Raptor Center, a visit to the Sitka National Historic Park, a performance from the New Archangel Dancers, a drive by Castle Hill, and also includes a stop at St. Michael's Cathedral.
When you get to the dock you will see skippers signing people up for boat rides. Take one of these tours, the wildlife is amazing! You will see lots of sea otters, seals, porpoises, whales, puffins and other sea birds. You may even see bears on the land, the skippers know where to look for them.
If you book a ships boat tour, you will often be picked up right from the ship's tender platform.
The official U.S. currency is the United States dollar (symbol: $). ATM's everywhere.
Major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are widely used and accepted, even for transactions worth only a few dollars. In fact, in some cases, it may be the only way to make a transaction. Note to overseas visitors: Prices of goods and services always seem lower than they really are, as taxes and gratuities are seldom included.
Most states have a sales tax, ranging from 2.9% to nearly 10% of the retail price; 4-6% is typical. Sales tax is almost never included in posted prices (except for gasoline, and in most states, alcoholic beverages consumed on-premises), but instead will be calculated and added to the total when you pay.
Tipping in America is widely used and expected. While Americans themselves often debate correct levels and exactly who deserves to be tipped, generally accepted standard rates are:
The U.S. has no official language at the federal level, but English is by far the standard for everyday use. Several states have declared their official state language as English. Spanish is also official in the state of New Mexico, where it is widely spoken; French is official in Louisiana and the Hawaiian language is official in Hawaii, but neither approaches the use of English and are official for primarily historical reasons.
In major metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles, many drugstores and supermarkets are routinely open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, while department stores, shopping centers and most other large retailers are typically open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and often with shorter hours on Sundays - generally 11 a.m. or noon to 5 or 6 p.m. On holidays, the tendency is to remain open (with the exception of the most important holidays like Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day where stores are generally closed)
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