Ketchikan lies on Revillagigedo Island at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s scenic inside passage surrounded by the Tongass National Forest. This temperate rainforest lives up to its designation. Ketchikan averages around 140-160 inches of rainfall annually, with the heaviest precipitation in the fall and winter. Ketchikan is rich in fish and native artwork and culture. It has lots of totem poles with some around town and some in parks. The town’s name comes from the Tlingit native word for Ketchikan Creek, Kitschk-hin.
Ketchikan has 4 cruise ship berths. 3 of them sit on the edge of the main touristy part of town and the fourth a short distance away with shuttles for those who don’t want to walk to town from there. There’s a visitor’s center right on the main cruise ship dock where anyone who didn’t pre-arrange shore excursions can find a variety of things to do. Streets near the docks are full of tourist oriented shops and it’s a short walk from the main docks to Ketchikan’s famous Creek Street.
Creek Street has its own history. This creekside walkway with over-water buildings was once the town’s red light district. Most of the former houses of prostitution are tourist shops now, though one remains intact as it was decades ago in the form of the Dolly’s House Museum. There’s a funicular to ride up to a hotel above Creek Street, or hike up on the Married Man’s Trail – the place where married men of the past snuck unseen to the brothels.
Ketchikan has lots to do. You can go fishing, or take a ride on a boat once featured on the TV show Deadliest Catch. Flightseeing, ziplining, and even snorkeling are options. Inexpensive tours are available by trolley, horse carriage, or even amphibious Duck vehicles. Ketchikan also has museums, parks, and native cultural areas. Excursions can be booked in advance through your ship or through outside sources. There are also quite a variety of things available last minute at the visitor’s center or sometimes from people with signs on the dock. Or just take a walk and explore.
Cruise ship excursions offered in Ketchikan include off-roading in adventure carts or jeeps, flightseeing, raptor center, wildlife adventures, fishing, canoeing or zodiacs, zip line, Bering Sea crab boat, Trolley tour, duck tour, totem poles, bear viewing adventure, cultural experiences, snorkeling, zip line, rainforest hike, lumberjack show, crab feast, and a wildlife boat safari. Excursions offered vary from ship to ship, but usually include the major attractions.