Visiting Sitka & Ketchikan, Alaska!

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i’ve chatted about our amazing day whale watching and glacier viewing in juneau and the fantastic time going through the tracy arm fjord with icebergs so it’s only fair i talk about the cute towns of sitka and ketchikan, alaska!

after we went through juneau, we next stopped for the day in sitka, alaska! i fell in love with this little town! there’s not actually a port so you have to take a “tender” from the ship to the land.

alaskan cruise travel holland america lifeboat

what’s a tender you ask? A LIFEBOAT! i’m not sure if they call it a ‘tender’ to try to make it softer but it freaked me out.

alaskan cruise travel sitka tender and lifeboat

alaskan cruise travel chelsea avery lifeboatsitka wins for the prettiest welcome sign! don’t mind the ballerina in the lower left corner of the photo…she was just trying to dance her way into our photo (and hearts). and sometimes i stick my neck out for love.

alaskan cruise travel sitka chelsea and ryan averysitka is interesting because it has a mix of the alaskan native tribe of the tlingit intermixed with russian history. i learned that sitka was the cultural and political hub of russian america in the early 19th century and was known as “paris of the pacific.”  the russians were interested in this small town because of the their sea otter pelt trade.

when the US purchased alaska from russia in 1867, the transfer ceremony happened in sitka and became alaska’s first captial city.

st. michael’s cathedral is still an active russian orthodox church in center of town and has been there for two centuries (with a facelift after a fire in 1996).

sitka russian churchas it states on the city of sitka webiste, “according to a Tlingit legend, Mount Edgecumbe, a 3,200-foot-tall dormant volcano, located on southern Kruzof Island, was the smoking beacon that brought the original native Tlingit Indians to Sitka around 10,000 years ago. Old Sitka was founded in 1799 by Alexander Baranov, the governor of Russian America. Baranov arrived under the auspices of the Russian-American Company, a “semi-official” colonial trading company chartered by Tsar Paul I.

there were battles and fights for the land and if you walk through sitka national historical park, better known as “totem park,” you will see information and memorials from it.

sitka national historical park

totem polesi used to work for a native organization and feel deep respect for the different cultures and traditions. i also feel that we as a nation need to do a better job acknowledging that we are on native land and be open and transparent about the atrocities done (and still being done) to the native community.

this made me happy to see in the well-done museum in sitka!

tlingit tribeas we were getting back on the “tender lifeboat” brilliant entrepreneurial girls greeted us at the dock! they were selling freshly made cookies and treats for $.50 a pop and i’m pretty sure i spent over $10. i hope i didn’t freak them out too much when i told them how proud i was of them and to keep up with supply and demand and live their dreams and be strong and bold young ladies. well, now that i type all that out…they probably think i’m a crazy lady.

yes, they had all their business permits and health licenses!

alaskan cruise travel sitka female entreprenuers chelsea averythe next day we ventured into ketchikan, which is a neat city nestled on a network of waterways! (believe it or not…this is actually not the most awkward picture of me leaning in for a photo…)

alaskan cruise travel ketchikan groupwe didn’t have as much time in this town so i hopefully you got enough history lessons from sitka but ketchikan is a unique place!

ketchikan on the wateryou also need to find the little open faced cafe (good coffee cafe) on the corner of ketchikan because they make S’MORES muffins! we truly bought 8 of these so when you visit hopefully they have them in stock!

alaskan cruise travel ketchikan smores muffinhere’s dolly’s house “where both men and salmon came upstream to spawn” haaaaa! she was an alaskan “madam” and basically ran their red light district from the 1920s-1950s. it’s $10 to go through the museum but we opted not to so we decided to take sorority girl photos in front of it instead.

alaskan cruise travel ketchikan sorority girl posemy husband, farah and i did decide to take a $4 tram ride up to the top of a mountain and then walk down to get in some exercise (it’s amazing how much food one can put away on a cruise). it was a lovely view despite the women standing next to me having a panic attack about heights.


ryan and chelsea avery ketchikanthey apparently get a ton of rain and we somehow kept lucking out in each city to see the sun shining!

IMG_8339alaska is also amazing because of how much daylight they get during the summer! this was taken 10pm and the sun wakes up at about 4:15am. spectacular.

alaskan cruise travel holland america sunset off bow of boati will probably put out one more “tips for an alaskan cruise” blog post and then i will move on from this once in a lifetime trip we all took together! but if you want to come over i will show you all 3,291 pictures and tell you more stories!

1) if you owned a business, what would your product or service be? (i’m now contemplating cookies as an add-on)
2) do you enjoy learning about the history of the places you visit?
3) have you ever been in a lifeboat or tender?


  1. Carissa

    June 18, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Love the pictures, Alaska is just breathtaking! 1) If I had a business, it would be a dating service similar to the MatchMaker Millionaire on Bravo. It’s very entertaining show! I actually did my Master’s thesis on eHarmony and online dating services! 2) When visiting places I definitely like learning about the history, it can sometimes be more meaningful or make me feel more connected to it when I’m there. 3) I have not been on a tender…i think that’s mostly a good thing!

    • chelsea

      June 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      thanks carissa! breathtaking is an appropriate word for alaska! soooo interesting you did your thesis on eharmony and online dating services! please share your findings with me or maybe you should do a guest blog post on here-super interesting 🙂 love what you said about feeling more connected after learning about the history of place. can’t wait to see you soon!