We stepped outside the Holland America Westerdam into the strong aroma of dead fish. All explained by a glance at the nearest building, labeled Kodiak Fishermens Terminal. We’ve had port stops at container docks before, but this was the first at a fishing pier. The city map has it labeled as a city dock 2. Pillar Mountain, topped by windmills, dominates the land side view from the ship.
Next to the ship we passed a row of canneries before reaching town. In pre-cruise research I found a site saying it was a mile and a half to town. The ship’s info said a mile. Walking into town, my garmin watch that I use to track my runs said it was just about a kilometer from the ship to the marina at St. Paul Harbor.
Unlike many marinas, there wasn’t any sort of blockade on the entrances to the docks keeping anyone not owning a boat there away, so people could go down to the docks and wander around looking at the boats if they wanted to.
On the main street through town from the cruise dock, there are informational signs along the railings above the boat harbor.
A side street near there has a big fish sculpture in front of the marina building.
Kodiak so far hasn’t had enough cruise ship traffic to change the town. They use school busses to pick passengers up for ship’s excursions and as shuttles for people who don’t want to walk to town. It’s mostly just a normal little town where locals shop or go out to eat, but there are a few tourist attractions. All grouped near each other there’s a wildlife center, a visitor’s center, and the Baranov Museum. Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church sits next door to the Baranov Museum and across the street from the Alutiiq Museum. The Baranov Museum charged a $5 admission fee, but the rest were all free. Other than the visitor’s center and the church (which had a donation basket) the others all had gift shops.
An interesting looking cannery made partly from an old ship sits next to the visitor’s center.
The visitor’s center has free maps showing all the area’s highlights and where to find them. It also has information on things to do and see and places to stay. We just wandered in there for a few minutes, but overheard someone booking a tour so they do that there too.
Anyone who wants to venture a bit farther can cross a bridge and find a park with trails, a fisheries research center with an aquarium, and a road to St Herman’s Harbor which sits across the bay from where the cruise ship docks. If they want to go a lot farther, Fort Abercrombie State Park is several miles beyond the town and has hiking trails and an old historic fort.
We just walked to the church and nearby museums, all of which are fairly small, but have interesting things to see. The church is quite ornate and at the time we were there the reverend was telling a tale of how the congregation didn’t expect him to last long until one of them decided that the reverend was going to buy his boat. He found a couple partners and did so. Initially the boat was parked outside the church where he used it for an office and the townsfolk started stopping by sharing boating and fishing information with him, which for him made a great icebreaker and led to his acceptance as a member of the town and not just the new priest.
The wildlife center has no actual animals. Instead it had all sorts of displays with models of various species and information about them. It also had a seating area with a short movie.
Outside the wildlife center people had fun taking their picture with the center’s resident bear…statue.
The Alutiiq museum had quite a few artifacts including woven baskets, rocks with hieroglyphics, and a very old kayak. Apparently they are the ones who invented kayaks. They even had a kayak skirt to keep them dry, though it was nothing like a modern one.
The Baranov museum had things from the Russian era, which was mostly about hunting and trapping the area’s wildlife Their displays included actual animals that were no longer living rather than models like at the wildlife place. It also included artifacts of daily life in that era – like raincoats made from animal intestines, and a tiny kitchen set up with the sort of things used back then.
Kodiak doesn’t get nearly the sort of cruise ship traffic the major Alaskan ports have, but as more and more ships head to Alaska they need more places to go. A lady at the gift shop in the wildlife place said they had one ship about every other week throughout the summer of 2018, but expect over 30 cruise ship days in 2019. She said the locals are hoping to find a way to accommodate all the tourists without changing the nature of their town, which is at this point as she put it, a real town.