Liquid Sunshine in the Salmon Capital of the World

The 610-foot long Silver Shadow is seen docked at Ketchikan's Berth 3 on June 21, 2014. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The 610-foot long Silver Shadow is seen docked at Ketchikan’s Berth 3 on June 21, 2014. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s Silver Shadow cut her way through the fog and drizzle early this morning, coming up on the self-proclaimed “Salmon Capital of the World” just after 07:00. When I stepped out on deck to watch our arrival into Ketchikan, Alaska, I was caught off guard by just how windy it was. Winds were pushing 30 kilometres an hour as Silver Shadow started to ease her way alongside, and was a topic of discussion for the Officers and our Alaskan Marine Pilot who were controlling the ship’s progress from the starboard bridge wing.

The town of Ketchikan, Alaska, as seen from onboard Silversea's Silver Shadow. Ketchikan is noted for its salmon - and its disproportionally large amount of annual rain. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The town of Ketchikan, Alaska, as seen from onboard Silversea’s Silver Shadow. Ketchikan is noted for its salmon – and its disproportionally large amount of annual rain. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

In fact, in the five times I’ve been to Ketchikan previously, I can’t remember a single day when the wind was as ferocious as it was today. Rainstorms of varying intensity came and went suddenly, and the continuing guests of wind made the outside temperature of 12°C feel about half that.

Ever since I first came here in July of 1998, I’ve always loved this quaint little town of 8,000. Ketchikan has changed a lot over the intervening years, though. The main dock apron has been extended, with a new concrete apron being constructed about fifteen feet out from the former wooden one that used to only run to the Tongass Trading Co. building that has seemingly stood at the end of the pier since the dawn of time.

Strong winds ripped across the decks of the Silver Shadow as docking operations commenced. Even a "small" ship like Silver Shadow dwarfs the town. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Strong winds ripped across the decks of the Silver Shadow as docking operations commenced. Even a “small” ship like Silver Shadow dwarfs the town. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Casting lines ashore in our first port of call on this 11-day Alaska cruise. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Casting lines ashore in our first port of call on this 11-day Alaska cruise. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silver Shadow's Captain, Staff Captain and Alaskan Marine Pilot guide her into our berth in Ketchikan. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silver Shadow’s Captain, Staff Captain and Alaskan Marine Pilot guide her into our berth in Ketchikan. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

In 1998, there was just the one berth in Ketchikan. At the time, two large ships could tie up at the pier, with a third potentially anchoring out in the channel. Today, the dock area has been extended past the Tongass Trading Co., with two additional berths, more room for motorcoaches, and new shops and restaurants.

Silver Shadow is docked at one of these new berths – Berth 3 – today. In Berth 1, across from the Visitor’s Bureau, is Disney Wonder, which pulled into port just after 10:00. Norwegian Sun arrived at Berth 2 directly in front of us just before Noon. For a brief period today, approximately 5,000 visitors “invaded” this small town that was founded in 1900.

Enjoying room service once again - and a piping hot cup of fresh coffee before I disembarked the ship for a few hours in Ketchikan. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Enjoying room service once again – and a piping hot cup of fresh coffee before I disembarked the ship for a few hours in Ketchikan. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Just follow the signs! Complimentary bottled water is also available at the gangway; help yourself! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Just follow the signs! Complimentary bottled water is also available at the gangway; help yourself! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The bow of Silver Shadow looms large over the small fishing vessels moored nearby. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The bow of Silver Shadow looms large over the small fishing vessels moored nearby. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The thing you should know about Ketchikan is that it’s a warm, friendly, welcoming town. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ll say what I have always said about Alaska, and what I’ll continue to say over the next 11 days: seek out the local shops and experiences. Sure, it’s good to pick up that baseball cap or sweatshirt from the touristy shop, but make sure you get off of Front Street and wander around; you’ll be glad you did.

For a Saturday morning with three cruise ships in port, Ketchikan was oddly quiet today. I blame the cold temperatures and ferocious wind. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

For a Saturday morning with three cruise ships in port, Ketchikan was oddly quiet today. I blame the cold temperatures and ferocious wind. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Unfortunately, it seems many shops – save for the Caribbean diamond and jewelry stores that have become ubiquitous in Alaska – just weren’t that interested in us. Creek Street remained a veritable ghost town well after 11:00 this morning, with only a single shop open for business. Historically, this was Ketchikan’s Red Light district, where “Men and Salmon Come Upstream to Spawn”, as the tagline goes.

Creek Street, Ketchikan's former Red Light district, deserted at 11:30 in the morning. Temperatures hovered around 10 Celsius, but felt much cooler due to winds gusting up to 30 kilometres per hour. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Creek Street, Ketchikan’s former Red Light district, deserted at 11:30 in the morning. Temperatures hovered around 10 Celsius, but felt much cooler due to winds gusting up to 30 kilometres per hour. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

There’s also been a lot of change in Ketchikan since my last visit in July of 2013. One of my favorite booksellers at Salmon Landing has shut its doors permanently. The entire second floor of the iconic building situated at the extreme southern end of Front Street is noticeably empty. There are also numerous vacant buildings throughout town that, until recently, seem to have been occupied.

On the other end of the spectrum, Popcorn is taking over the landscape in Ketchikan. I have no idea when this became a “thing”, but you can now get popcorn everywhere. Air-popped, buttered, salted, candied…if it comes from a kernel and it’s heated, you’ll probably find it in Ketchikan. I first noticed the “Popcorn Trend” on a visit to Alaska last summer, and it seems to have only grown in popularity – though I won’t pretend to know why.

I have no idea when Popcorn became a "big deal", but it's on offer everywhere in Ketchikan this year. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I have no idea when Popcorn became a “big deal”, but it’s on offer everywhere in Ketchikan this year. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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Our Live Voyage Report onboard Silversea’s luxurious Silver Shadow continues tomorrow with our arrival in the Alaskan capital city of Juneau! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

2 Responses to Silver Shadow Live Voyage Report – Day 3

  1. […] post Silver Shadow Live Voyage Report – Day 3 appeared first on From The Deck […]

  2. I was in Ketchikan too, but on Wednesday June25, 2014. I did see the Silver Shadow several times during my trip from the 20th to the 27th. I was on another cruise line. All points visited were breath-taking and it is a wonderful trip! Did a lot of hiking, still tired! Wish I had seen this blog before my trip. Will book mark it!
    Peace,
    Kiachu

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