Sail Date: June 2012
I like Sitka because it was the least commercialized of all the ports and the national forest was a joy to walk through. The town is small enough for walking, but there are buses / shuttles / bicycle carriages to help you get around. ... Read More
I like Sitka because it was the least commercialized of all the ports and the national forest was a joy to walk through. The town is small enough for walking, but there are buses / shuttles / bicycle carriages to help you get around. Sitka National Historic Park (free admission) is full of great trails. We saw bald eagles everywhere, it was ridiculous. Wonderful scenery that should take you about 2 hours to fully enjoy. The Raptor Center ($12) is right across the street north of the forest and houses at least 30 different eagles, hawks, falcons, owls for you to check out. Good for kids and animal lovers alike. The Bishop's House is supposedly more than 100 years-old but the restoration made it look totally new, which made me kinda disappointed. First floor exhibits are free but 2nd floor costs $3 if i remember correctly. I had a reindeer hot dog (about $5) from one of the street carts and it tasted EXACTLY like a regular beef hot dog. It was good, but i was expecting reindeer to taste different, oh well. Castle Hill offers a good view of the town, harbor, bridge, and snow-capped mountain in the background. a good place to swing by real quick before heading back to your ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2012
Great place to get stunning photos with volcano and fishing boats. Fun museum and totem park nearby. Raptor Center is well worth seeing if you like birds. Ship anchors and you tender in which is like getting a mini excursion for free.
Great place to get stunning photos with volcano and fishing boats. Fun museum and totem park nearby. Raptor Center is well worth seeing if you like birds. Ship anchors and you tender in which is like getting a mini excursion for free. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2012
Interesting that our previous two ports were not available to review. FYI, they were Homer and Kodiak. We used HAL's excursions for both stops. One: Seldovia Cruise w/Gull Island (good, but not enough time in Seldovia), and Kodiak ... Read More
Interesting that our previous two ports were not available to review. FYI, they were Homer and Kodiak. We used HAL's excursions for both stops. One: Seldovia Cruise w/Gull Island (good, but not enough time in Seldovia), and Kodiak Sightseeing & Wildlife Cruise (Small and personalized). Now, onto Sitka! In Sitka we chartered Sitka's Secrets to take us out to Saint Lazaria Island, a major bird breeding area 15 miles from Sitka by boat. The wind was high, the water was choppy, and the ride was better than the worst roller coaster. But we made it and saw an incredible breeding island with over 21 species of bird, many of which were new to our life lists (species we've seen). After our thrill ride, we did a bit of shopping in Sitka and managed to find a few gifts for friends and family. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
I did not do the sea otter excursion but those who did said it was awesome. Tons of sea otters (and babies) as well as sightings of brown bears, black bears, and grizzly bears...
I did not do the sea otter excursion but those who did said it was awesome. Tons of sea otters (and babies) as well as sightings of brown bears, black bears, and grizzly bears... Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
take the shuttle to the Raptor Ctr for $5 r/t. Don't buy the $10 all day as you won't use it. The Raptor ctr was $12 and worth it. The stop before the cruise I got off to see the church and we were within a block of the cruise ... Read More
take the shuttle to the Raptor Ctr for $5 r/t. Don't buy the $10 all day as you won't use it. The Raptor ctr was $12 and worth it. The stop before the cruise I got off to see the church and we were within a block of the cruise from this point. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
It was cold and rainy in Sitka. The town has a tired and outdated, left-behind feel to it. I really liked the store called Brenner's - nice clothing for women. We also liked the Sitka Bazaar. Toured the Russian Bishops house and my ... Read More
It was cold and rainy in Sitka. The town has a tired and outdated, left-behind feel to it. I really liked the store called Brenner's - nice clothing for women. We also liked the Sitka Bazaar. Toured the Russian Bishops house and my mom bought some hats/t-shirts and the Ben Franklin which we thought were good prices ($7.99 each for the baseball caps.) Then we got to Ketchikan and saw the exact same hats 3 for $10!! WAIT to buy in Ketchikan unless you must have something that says Sitka. GOOD post office with lots of box-size options for shipping things back and "Free" tape when shipping Priority. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Beautiful little town, very picturesque, Filled with Russian heritage, enjoyed walking to the old Russian cemetery, Some nice shops; HAL I think is the only cruise line that shops there, therefore, it is not very commercial. Beautiful ... Read More
Beautiful little town, very picturesque, Filled with Russian heritage, enjoyed walking to the old Russian cemetery, Some nice shops; HAL I think is the only cruise line that shops there, therefore, it is not very commercial. Beautiful old Russian church. Since HAL is the only cruise line that sails to Sitka, it was NOT crowded. BUT, since there is no ship dock, passengers are tendered to shore....meaning you all take the life boats to get there!! I thought it would take forever, but actually it went pretty quickly. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
I have a mixed review of Sitka. One of the reasons that we booked HAL was their friendliness to folks with disabilities. Prior to booking, the sister-in-law (SIL) checked with HAL about this port in particular because it was shown as a ... Read More
I have a mixed review of Sitka. One of the reasons that we booked HAL was their friendliness to folks with disabilities. Prior to booking, the sister-in-law (SIL) checked with HAL about this port in particular because it was shown as a tender port. She advised them that her DH would be in an electric scooter. They assured her that if the seas were calm he would be allowed to take the scooter on the tender provided that he could board the tender independently without the scooter. The evening prior to arriving at Sitka the SIL called the front desk to inquire if the conditions were expected to allow for scooters. She was advised that they would call her back by 7am the next AM. By 8am no one had called, so she did. She was advised that due to sea conditions scooters would not be allowed, however, they would be happy to "rent" her a wheelchair for the day for $95. The 3 of us went into Sitka and left the BIL on the ship. Once on shore we encountered a lady from the ship in a scooter (rented from the same company) on shore. She stated that she didn't call but just came down with her family and they put her on board. The SIL went ballistic. When we returned to the ship she and the BIL went to the front desk and spoke to the staff there. This turned into a huge ordeal, with accusations about making the story up and the like. Not knowing who this woman was (name or cabin) it was difficult to prove the point, and what first started out as a complaint had not escalated into something much more. They were finally able to talk to someone on the Lido deck that had gone ashore in Sitka with their scooter, and was escorted by the cruise director. With their stateroom number in hand another visit was made to the front desk. This time, they spoke with the Safety Officer - the guy who makes decisions. He now tells them that no one, at no time is allowed off of the ship at a tender port on a scooter. WRONG! We know of at least 2 people that were. Instead of admitting that someone somewhere had made a mistake, they left a bottle of wine (gee thanks) in their stateroom. Not sure what the wine means...but it doesn't make up for all of the frustration. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
The only excursion we took was the Bears, Birds & Barnacles. Bus driver (college age) was very knowledgeable and professional. First class! The hatchery director was our guide and she too was great. The bear fortress speaker was sort ... Read More
The only excursion we took was the Bears, Birds & Barnacles. Bus driver (college age) was very knowledgeable and professional. First class! The hatchery director was our guide and she too was great. The bear fortress speaker was sort of arrogant and had a messy appearance. That was the only weak spot of the tour. The tender transportation was well organized. It was raining, but overall a good thumbs up day! Unfortunately, reality hit when we returned to the ship............ Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
WE had also been to Sitka before, but love the beauty of this port! We think it is one of the most beautiful on the AK cruises!! This time we went to the Totem Park, and found it to be very interesting, beautiful and it was FREE too!! We ... Read More
WE had also been to Sitka before, but love the beauty of this port! We think it is one of the most beautiful on the AK cruises!! This time we went to the Totem Park, and found it to be very interesting, beautiful and it was FREE too!! We visited the Bishops House and the Russian Church! There was authentic dancing at the church and it was wonderful!! I love Sitka and don't miss the brewery above the shops closest to the ship! Great fun and good too!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
Sitka is a wonderful port call located in the coastal Rain Forest. It is a clean town and the one least effected by the influence of the cruise lines that we visited. There are beautiful trails and totems in the Sitka National Historical ... Read More
Sitka is a wonderful port call located in the coastal Rain Forest. It is a clean town and the one least effected by the influence of the cruise lines that we visited. There are beautiful trails and totems in the Sitka National Historical Park V.C. and Totem Park. See the salmon spawning in the Indian River while on your walk (late Aug. or Sept). Also observe local native craftsman in working demonstrations. Walk up Castle Hill for a beautiful view and to visit historical spot where transfer of Alaska from Russia to U.S. took place. In the middle of downtown on Lincoln St. see St. Michaels Russian Church ($5 donation required). There wasn't enough time for us to see the Sheldon Jackson Museum or the Raptor Rehabilitation Center.    Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
Sitka is the port least effected by the cruise lines that we visited. It is clean and beautiful, set in the Rain Forest. Go to the Bishop's House, Castle Hill (great view, scene of transfer of AK from Russia to U.S.), St. ... Read More
Sitka is the port least effected by the cruise lines that we visited. It is clean and beautiful, set in the Rain Forest. Go to the Bishop's House, Castle Hill (great view, scene of transfer of AK from Russia to U.S.), St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church ($5 donation required), Sitka National Historical Park and Totem Trail (native artisans demonstrate their work, beautiful walking trail and totems, bridge with spawning salmon in Sept.). Many shopping opportunities downtown. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We loved Sitka and spent about 5 hours walking around on our own. It is a really fun place to explore. We made a point of visiting the Raptor centre where they rehabilitate birds of prey, mainly eagles.
We loved Sitka and spent about 5 hours walking around on our own. It is a really fun place to explore. We made a point of visiting the Raptor centre where they rehabilitate birds of prey, mainly eagles. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Because we were not able to see Hubbard Glacier (due to weather, Captain's decision) we were actually given a couple of hours in Sitka. We were supposed to arrive at 9 AM but we actually arrived at 7 AM. Our excursion was set to start ... Read More
Because we were not able to see Hubbard Glacier (due to weather, Captain's decision) we were actually given a couple of hours in Sitka. We were supposed to arrive at 9 AM but we actually arrived at 7 AM. Our excursion was set to start at 1 PM so we decided we were going to walk around a bit before our excursion meeting time. It was raining hard but my brother-in-law checked his weather application on his iPhone and it was set to clear up by about 10 AM or so. We decided rather than go on shore and get wet early, we would wait it out a bit and go over a bit later. We boarded the tender at 10 AM and by the time we reached shore at 10:30 AM---it had actually started to clear a bit. We were glad we waited. I ran into a couple of folks later in the day and asked how they liked Sitka and both said 'it was okay' and I asked why and they said because they were wet and cold all day. I told them we had a great day and actually liked Sitka....A LOT. We walked up and down the main drag, by the Russian Church. My kids picked up a few trinkets/knick knacks and we decided we were actually hungry for something other than ship food. We stopped at the Victorian hotel right on the main drag and I actually think the restaurant was called "Victoria's"?? Anyway, we got three orders of the Halibut & chips. It was pretty spendy ($24 for 4 pieces of halibut and a healthy portion of fries)----we were hungry and the fish was fresh. There isn't much seating and we sat down at 11:30 and beat most of the other ship lunch crowd. We were glad we ate. The excursion we chose in Sitka was the "Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest"---again, operated by Allen Marine. The charges for this tour were $119 for adults and $84 for kids. By far and away, our best tour/excursion on our entire cruise!! We LOVED this 3 hours! They promise that you WILL see wildlife or you will get a $100 per adult refund. We hadn't been on the boat more than 10 mins and we saw a whale. As we had already been on a whale tour out of Juneau, we were NOT that interested in seeing the whales again. We were kind of 'whaled' out by then. The captain was informative and interesting but not to the point of being over-bearing or boring. We watched the whale for about 15-20 mins but that was about 15 mins too long for our group (again, we had already seen whales earlier in the week)---but he did move on to the next group. We were essentially after sea otters. And boy did we ever find sea otters.....whole 'rafts' of otters--just floating and playing and sunning themselves. We stayed around the otters for about 1/2 hour to 45 mins. My kids LOVED seeing the otters and getting lots and lots of pictures, from a lot of different views and angles. We had two naturalists on board and they both did a great job of explaining about the otters, their habitat, lifestyle, etc. Again, not to the point of over-bearing or boring us. We also saw a few seals and a few sea birds too. But, the best part of the whole day was still to come. We went down a few miles more and saw lots and lots of Bald Eagles, in their natural habitat. Some flying, some in nests, a baby bird, in a nest, and a lot on shore, either just sitting or eating. This was my favorite part of the trip---just seeing the Eagles in their natural setting and habitat. They are such a majestic and pristine bird and just to get to see them was such a treat! We got to see a mother bear and her two baby cubs. This was a very rare and special treat. The naturalists say that you just don't see bears every day and maybe once in every 10-12 trips do you get lucky enough to see a bear. We sat and watched the mama bear eat and the two cubs play and frolic around. We were very, very lucky!! This was indeed the highlight for my kids!! It made their whole trip and their whole week. We headed back to the ship and the boat took us directly to the ship as the ship was due to sail at 5 PM and we were dropped off, right at 4:30 PM. Overall, a very worthwhile trip and it just very cool to see all of the wildlife we did that day: whales, seals, eagles, a couple of deer, otters, salmon, bears, and several other sea birds. I would say that this was our favorite excursion and we all thought it was well worth the money and worth our day. We liked the captain, the naturalists and the boat and itinerary. A 5+ type of day! And to top it off, it was a clear, sunny afternoon!! We lucked out! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
I loved Sitka. This is the only tender port and it was no big deal to catch the tender. Such a charming little town and the view was so cool from the cruise ship. We picked up the all day shuttle bus (I think it was $10 per person to ride ... Read More
I loved Sitka. This is the only tender port and it was no big deal to catch the tender. Such a charming little town and the view was so cool from the cruise ship. We picked up the all day shuttle bus (I think it was $10 per person to ride it all day) and went to the Raptor Center. It was neat to see the eagles and the birds that are being rehabilitated. There are some nice walking trails (you are supposed to watch for bears) but I had walking issues so I didn't get to enjoy them. We also went to the park and looked at the totem poles. Hubby and BIL walked to the salmon hatchery and enjoyed learning about that. I REALLY wanted fresh crab legs but I refuse to pay $43 for lunch. So I guess I will be eating frozen forever... Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We loved Sitka! It was grim and rainy when we arrived, but the little town was very pleasant and has great character. Of the ports we visited this actually seemed a bit real as opposed to totally geared to cruisers and run by the cruise ... Read More
We loved Sitka! It was grim and rainy when we arrived, but the little town was very pleasant and has great character. Of the ports we visited this actually seemed a bit real as opposed to totally geared to cruisers and run by the cruise ships, probably because not many lines dock there (we were the only ship in that day). Very cool Russian Orthodox Church in the town, and a raptor center a short walk away. We did a tour (through HAL) Sea Otter and Wildlife - 5+ stars. Nice warm, comfortable boat which seemed very stable even though the sea was a bit choppy. Super knowledgeable and friendly crew - found us a whale which conveniently breached twice up close, sea otters (so cute), eagles, puffins, deer. Just gorgeous scenery. Freshly cooked snacks and hot drinks. This was a great excursion, probably the best we have ever done - $119 pp. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
The ship used tender to transport passengers ashore. Although it was raining when we got to Sitka, I love this place (my kids didn't like it because it was too quiet, according to them). We did not take any excursion from the ship. We ... Read More
The ship used tender to transport passengers ashore. Although it was raining when we got to Sitka, I love this place (my kids didn't like it because it was too quiet, according to them). We did not take any excursion from the ship. We took a shuttle for $10/person. They took you around to various places such as the Raptor Center, Museum, National Park, etc. You can hop-in and out as you please. My favorite was the Raptor Center where they are rehabilitating eagles and other birds. You could see these magnificent birds really close. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Sitka is a really charming and entertaining port. We signed up for a Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest and were not disappointed. We had a captain that had spent many years in the Coast Guard and he knew where to go and how to get there. We saw ... Read More
Sitka is a really charming and entertaining port. We signed up for a Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest and were not disappointed. We had a captain that had spent many years in the Coast Guard and he knew where to go and how to get there. We saw 2 whales, about 50 or so otters all lounging around on their backs, 2 bald eagles and a nest with 2 nearly grown eagles, and we also saw puffins. I had really wanted to see some puffins, so I was ecstatic about this sighting. We also saw a sea lion on our way out to sea. Read Less

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