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Cruises to Sitka

4 Awards
Sitka (Photo:Ramunas Bruzas/Shutterstock)

About Sitka

Over the centuries, Sitka -- one of Alaska's most exotic ports -- has reinvented itself over and over again. It's been home to the Tlingit Native Americans, an outpost of the Russian empire and the one-time capital of Alaska. The region is still a center for commercial fishing. Through it all, its residents have always figured out a way to get the best out of their resources. Today, the roughly 8,900 locals still rely on their natural surroundings, but with an eye toward the burgeoning tourism market.

From the moment you arrive, you'll notice that Sitka is different from the rest of Alaska. It's not just the Russian influence that makes the town unique. In addition to the usual commercial fishing and tourism, Sitka's economic livelihood also relies on drinking-water exportation, healthcare and education, including the Alaska State Trooper Academy.

Sitka is located on the west side of Baranof Island -- a 100-mile-long island in the state's panhandle -- and is only accessible by air and sea. The vast Tongass National Forest covers the area outside of town, which only has a roadway along the Pacific coast about 7 miles in either direction. Watching over Sitka from across the sound is Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano and Mount Fuji lookalike.

Although the port's more than 210,000 cruise passengers provide economic stimulus each summer, Sitka is primarily known for the quality and quantity of seafood harvested from its waters and processed in its plants.

Sitka's historic attractions are located within walking distance of downtown. Lincoln Street is approximately 1 mile long, starting at the city's southeast corner (featuring the lookout at Castle Hill) and ending at the Sitka National Historical Park visitor center to the north. The street passes by the historic onion-shaped domed architecture of St. Michael's Cathedral and the Russian Bishop's House as it follows the Sitka Sound waterfront and Crescent Harbor (the multi-slip marina).

The other main street is Katlian Street, a road that follows the waterfront of the Sitka Channel, featuring colorful fishing boats, weathered houses and the essence of a working harbor town.

  • Why go to Sitka?

  • Sitka Cruise Port Facilities?

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Royal Princess
Royal Princess

7 Night
Alaska CruiseDetails

1,705 Reviews
Leaving:Whittier
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
Sep 10, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Star Breeze
Star Breeze

11 Night
Alaskan Splendors 11d Sew-vanDetails

119 Reviews
Leaving:Seward
Cruise Line:Windstar Cruises
Aug 29, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Seven Seas Mariner
Seven Seas Mariner (Photo: Regent)

7 Night
Alaska CruiseDetails

365 Reviews
Leaving:Seward
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Sep 14, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Celebrity Eclipse
Celebrity Eclipse

7 Night
Alaska Hubbard Glacier CruiseDetails

1,861 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Virgin Voyages

24 Night
Transpacific CruiseDetails

204 Reviews
Leaving:Tokyo
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Jun 20, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Alaska & The Inside PassageDetails

474 Reviews
Leaving:Seward
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Alaska - SeattleDetails

2,055 Reviews
Leaving:Seattle
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Sep 2, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Alaska CruiseDetails

270 Reviews
Leaving:Seward
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Sep 1, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Alaskan ExplorerDetails

1,137 Reviews
Leaving:Seattle
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

91 Night
Grand Pacific ExplorerDetails

474 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Sep 17, 2023
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14 Night
Great Alaskan ExplorerDetails

790 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Sep 18, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Alaska Inside Passage & Glacier BayDetails

201 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
7 N Northbound Alaska & Hubbard GlacierDetails

1,202 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Aug 26, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Alaska CruiseDetails

383 Reviews
Leaving:Seward
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
May 20, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Alaska CruiseDetails

383 Reviews
Leaving:Seattle
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Why go to Sitka?

Pros:

A rich heritage is celebrated in Sitka with a totem pole park, cultural center and traditional dancers.

Cons:

The port is only accessible on certain cruise itineraries.

Bottom Line:

Blending native Tlingit with Russian roots, Sitka is an illuminating window into a remote part of Alaska.

Sitka Cruise Port Facilities?

If your ship doesn't dock about 6 miles outside of town at the Old Dock at Halibut Point, it will anchor and tender you to one of two docks in town: Crescent Harbor, steps from the Harrigan Centennial Hall, which has free Wi-Fi, restrooms and a tourist information desk; or Castle Hill (where Lincoln Street and Harbor Way meet).

If you tender, you'll end up right in town. If you're docked, you'll find a small terminal with several shops (souvenirs, jewelry and fur apparel) and a tent housing the Halibut Point Crab & Brews restaurant. The ship terminal also has restrooms and free Wi-Fi. A free shuttle service runs every 15 minutes and will drop you in town at Centennial Hall.

Good to Know?

Frequent rain is a fact of life in Alaska, and Sitka is no exception, with an average of 100 annual inches. An umbrella, water-resistant coat and shoes are a must. It's also a good idea to dress in layers.

Opening hours -- particularly at St. Michael's Cathedral -- can be capricious, despite the posted times.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Once you're dropped off, Sitka is extremely walkable. Pick up maps, brochures and advice from the information desk located in Harrigan Centennial Hall near Crescent Harbor. You can easily walk to shops, restaurants, St. Michael's Church, the Russian Bishop's House and other attractions.

By Bus: There is a Sitka bus system called RIDE Sitka, but it's primarily designed to serve locals. Buses run from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with three route loops. All routes leave the downtown Crescent Harbor parking lot at 45 minutes past the hour; the Green route also leaves Crescent Harbor parking lot at 15 minutes past the hour.

Fares are extremely affordable for adults and half-price for seniors (age 60 or older), children (ages 6 to 17) or people with disabilities. Day passes are also available.
Several tour companies run shuttles to the Raptor Center and other attractions. Look for signboards in front of Centennial Hall.

By Bike: An active, yet convenient option is to rent a bike from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop (329 Harbor Drive, across from Centennial Hall). They offer a variety of bikes at about $30 for the day.

By Taxi: There are several local taxi companies whose cabs congregate at Centennial Hall. (You won't find any at Old Dock, but you can call ahead for one to pick you up.) They include Hank's Taxi & Tour Service (907-747-8888), where you might get a song thrown in with your tour; Baranof Taxi and Tours (907-738-4722); Sunset Cab (907-623-0979); and Sitka Checkered Tours (907-738-9417), which operates a classic 1973 Checker Marathon cab.

By Rental Car: Rental agencies are located at the airport, which isn't convenient for cruisers, and with the limited local roads, there's really no reason to rent a car in Sitka. If you insist, you can rent from Sitka Car Rental (907-738-2282), which will arrange to drop a vehicle off at your location upon request.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the U.S. dollar. Banks with ATMs are located on Lincoln Street, between St. Michael's Church and Centennial Hall.

Language?

English is spoken by just about everyone, but many Sitkans also speak Tlingit or other native languages.


Sitka Cruise Reviews
This was the only port we had a decent time slot. The only bad thing with Sitka is the dock is like half an hour from downtown. They have shuttles running all day, which was great, but that did make it a little incoRead More
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rsldonk
Awesome town . We did The best of Sitka excursion. However I met somebody that DIY did the same things except for the bear rescue facility and had no trouble. So it’s easy to get around in Sitka very small town. SalRead More
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Deck Chair Dave
Sitka is small but mighty. I felt there was something for everyone to enjoy there. We had an excellent tour guide. Don't miss the raptor center.Read More
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raspberry ridge
We did a HAL Birds, Bears & Barnacles tour in Sitka - really enjoyed seeing the eagles and raptors. If you have never stood near a full grown eagle - you really really should at least once in your life. In the yardRead More
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RGEDad

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