Petroglyphs, Wrangell, and a Sunny Silver Shadow Evening

Silversea's Silver Shadow at her berth in the pretty town of Wrangell, Alaska. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s Silver Shadow at her berth in the pretty town of Wrangell, Alaska. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I’ve been trying to get back to Wrangell, Alaska for nearly a decade. Today, Silversea’s Silver Shadowhas made that dream a reality.

Situated on Wrangell Island just north of Ketchikan, the town of Wrangell is small – so small, it’s technically a borough, with a full-time population of about 2,300 as of 2010.

Silversea's Silver Shadow glistens in the sunlight in Wrangell. Note the retreating fog in the background. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s Silver Shadow glistens in the sunlight in Wrangell. Note the retreating fog in the background. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I first came here back in May of 2005, aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun. Norwegian, at the time, had been courting Wrangell as a new emerging cruise destination within Alaska; sort of similar to what Royal Caribbean was doing with Icy Strait Point. Beginning in the summer of 2000, one Norwegian ship had made a weekly call on the city, bringing with it up to 2,000 tourists at a time. As it turned out, my initial timing was very good: Norwegian dropped that call on Wrangell from their itineraries after the 2005 season.

Wrangell, Alaska is a very small - but authentic - Alaskan town. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Wrangell, Alaska is a very small – but authentic – Alaskan town. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

An analysis of the situation in Wrangell – prepared in 2006 by a consulting firm bidding on the task of liaising with the cruise industry on behalf of the city itself – found that most guests did enjoy their time in Wrangell, but that improvements could be made to the overall passenger experience. Still, it left Wrangell with no large ship calls for the entire 2006 season – and beyond.

One of the recommendations the report made was that Wrangell was poorly suited to inclusion on the weeklong runs that Norwegian had been trying to operate. It was a much better candidate, the report said, for longer 10-and-11-night voyages operated on smaller ships.

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

And here we are – on an 11-night voyage onboard a small, luxury vessel with a discerning group of passengers. Many of them have been there, done that when it comes to the ‘mainstay’ Alaskan ports like Juneau and Skagway, but few have ever been here before. Silversea, however, has: even in the dark days of 2006, after Wrangell lost their large ships, the line called here six times.

So why did I like my visit back in 2005 so much? I loved Wrangell for what it lacked. There were no tacky diamond shops on every corner. No trinket-crap stores, no giant stuffed bears, no hustling. Wrangell had this hard but beautiful edge to it. It was just a nice, small, working-class Alaskan town filled with – gasp! – Real Alaskans!

Plus, the fact that Petroglyph Beach was only a short, one mile walk from the cruise terminal (more of a pier, really) didn’t hurt, either.

Moody Petroglyph Beach is a short, 15-minute walk from the pier in Wrangell. It's seen here in the early-morning fog. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Moody Petroglyph Beach is a short, 15-minute walk from the pier in Wrangell. It’s seen here in the early-morning fog. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The petroglyphs here are thought to date back at least 1,000 years - but some estimates go past 8,000 years. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The petroglyphs here are thought to date back at least 1,000 years – but some estimates go past 8,000 years. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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Our Live Voyage Report onboard Silversea’s luxurious Silver Shadow continues tomorrow with a call on Prince Rupert, British Columbia! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

One Response to Silver Shadow Live Voyage Report – Day 8

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