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Cruising Article – 2012-03-06

Cruise to Alaska's "First City" Ketchikan

Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska cruises with Princess are on the rise and passengers lucky enough to reach Ketchikan will have a truly wild experience. This quirky town boasts a fascinating history waiting to be discovered, from acrobatic lumberjack shows to Native American totem poles. Between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, this geographical hot spot is a perfect place for serene photography and spectacular views of icy cold waterfalls and glassy lakes.

Beginning at Creek Street, visitors can peruse through the tiny Red Light District that was once the bustling center of the Gold Rush. This boardwalk along with most of Ketchikan was built over the water because the rocky hills surrounding the rushing creek were deemed too difficult to level. During the prohibition era of the 1920s, Canadian whiskey was a hot commodity along the strip and bootleggers would wait for the high tide to deliver their goods beneath homes with hidden doors leading straight to the water.

Before prohibition and western colonization, however, Ketchikan was home to the Tlingit and Haida Indians. At Totem Bight State Park, visitors can see 14 totem poles against the backdrop of the beautiful waterfront. These towering wooden carvings tell stories of Indian chiefs who ruled their tribes. Tourists are invited to walk through the beautiful gardens and step into the clan house that once sheltered 30-50 people at a time.

At the Misty Fjords National Monument, amateur wildlife photographers on a cruise with Princess will be treated to a scenic tour between cliffs that climb to 3,000 feet and feature majestic waterfalls that cascade into the salty waters below. Often shrouded by a tranquil mist, the fjords provide views into seemingly endless expanses of evergreens - and on a clear day, its lakes reflect the blue skies perfectly. While weaving through the glacier-formed fjords, photographers should keep their eyes peeled for sea lions, killer whales and porpoises as well as terrestrial beasts such as mountain goats and black bears. With a pair of binoculars, passengers may be able to catch a glimpse of pictographs painted on the New Eddystone Rock and Punchbowl Cove.

After a long day of exploring the Alaskan wilderness, hungry travelers can feast at the all-you-can-eat crab dinner at the George Inlet Lodge. Cruise passengers can stuff themselves with smoked salmon and Dungeness crab while washing it down with amber beer and white wine.