Best Things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska from Cruise Ship.

Let’s dive into the Best Things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska from your Cruise ship.

You’ve booked a cruise to Alaska and now you are looking for the best things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska. Nestled among the breathtaking landscapes of the Inside Passage. Ketchikan offers so much to do for cruise ship travellers with a myriad of exciting activities to explore. From scenic walks to exhilarating excursions, and exceptional shopping opportunities here’s a guide to experiencing the best things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska during your cruise stop.

Cruise ships docked in port in Alaska.

Can you walk around Ketchikan from a cruise port?

I used to say Absolutely! However the port has changed significantly, and I would now say “It depends on where you dock”.  The original Ketchikan cruise port is conveniently located near the heart of downtown.  Making it incredibly easy to find things to do in town on foot. Step off your ship and immerse yourself in the charm of Creek Street.  A historic boardwalk lined with colourful buildings housing boutiques, art galleries, and cosy cafes.
Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, where you’ll be treated to stunning views of the marina and surrounding mountains. Don’t forget to snap some photos of the iconic totem poles scattered throughout the town.  They’re a testament to Ketchikan’s rich Native American heritage.  Read on for the new docking areas for Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Creek Street, Ketchikan, Alaska.

Where will my ship dock in Port?

Downtown Ketchikan has three main cruise ship docks, that can hold mega-ships.  There is a 4th Cruise ship dock about a 10-15 min walk into town.  Download your FREE Ketchikan Map with all four Cruise Ship Docks marked.  Click here to download.

Cruise Shop Save Map - Alaska Cruise Ship Docks.

Ward Cove to Downtown Ketchikan Shuttle Service.

There is a new docking area exclusively used by Norwegian Cruise lines called Ward Cove which is about a 20 – 30 min shuttle ride into Ketchikan.  It is okay to dock here because most cruisers are on an organized tour from NCL so you will arrive here to take your tour.  The Tours in Ketchikan are amazing so you will still get to experience the best of Ketchikan.
Once the ship docks, there is a complimentary shuttle service from Ward Cove to Cruise Ship Dock 4 in downtown Ketchikan. The journey spans approximately 20 minutes each way. Please observe the ship’s departure time for the final shuttle bus departures from Ward Cove (WC) and Cruise Ship Dock 4.
To explore downtown Ketchikan, we recommend disembarking early to catch the shuttle and make the most of your time ashore. The shuttles operate continuously throughout the day. If you have a planned activity, allocate at least 30 minutes for the journey to downtown. You’ll find the shuttle service starting from the far end of the Welcome Center.
Upon reaching Cruise Ship Dock 4, allow 15 minutes for a leisurely walk to the heart of downtown. For guests with mobility constraints, a complimentary bus service operated by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough departs from Cruise Ship Dock 4 every 20 minutes, offering access to various destinations within downtown Ketchikan.

Distance from Ward Cove to Downtown Ketchikan

Can I explore Ketchikan on my own?

Absolutely! Ketchikan is a pedestrian-friendly town, perfect for independent exploration. If you’re feeling adventurous, venture beyond the downtown area and discover hidden gems like the Tongass Historical Museum or the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. For nature enthusiasts, a hike along one of Ketchikan’s many scenic trails, such as the Rainbird Trail or the Deer Mountain Trail.  Offers a chance to immerse yourself in the breathtaking wilderness of the Last Frontier.
I would say Ketchikan is the one port where there is so much to do you may need to book another cruise next year.  Check out Creek Street and if you get there at the right time of year you may catch the Salmon Run usually in July/August.  There is also the largest number of Totem Poles in Ketchikan this is a popular tour RainForest Walk and Totem Pole Park – they usually only take small groups.

Kayaking through Creek Street, Ketchikan, Alaska.

How do you spend a day in port?

With so many things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska is best spent exploring its diverse attractions. Start your morning with a visit to the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, where interactive exhibits showcase the region’s natural and cultural history. Then, embark on a guided tour of the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show for a thrilling display of axe-wielding athleticism and comedic antics.
Afterwards, treat yourself to a seafood feast at one of Ketchikan’s renowned restaurants, where freshly caught salmon and halibut are always on the menu.  Anabelle’s famous Keg and Chowder House serves delicious food a great local favorite just great food and is conveniently located on Front Street. Here is the link to their website.

What is the best excursion in Ketchikan?

For an unforgettable adventure, consider booking a wilderness excursion such as Whale Watching, or Alaskan Native Totem Park or a True Alaskan Native Experience.  Whether you opt for a guided kayak tour through tranquil fjords or a Sea Crab Fisherman Tour.  You’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of Alaska’s untamed beauty.
Animal lovers won’t want to miss the chance to observe majestic bald eagles up close at the Alaska Raptor Center or witness playful seals and otters frolicking in their natural habitat on a wildlife-watching cruise.  There is plenty of things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska. 

Princess cruises sailing away from port observed by a Majestic Bald Eagle

What shops are near the cruise port docks?

If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, you’re in luck! Ketchikan’s cruise port is surrounded by a plethora of shops offering everything from locally crafted souvenirs to high-end jewellery such as Family Owned and Operated Milano number 1 on your map. Milano has unbeatable prices bringing you direct from the manufacture prices on Dancing Diamonds, Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds, Alaska Glow, Tanzanites, Fashion and Birthstone jewelry. 
Julie’s Fine Jewelry is a proudly Alaskan 1993 family operating 3 long-standing stores.  Here you will find the biggest and best selection of hand-carved Totem Poles from local Alaskan Artists.  Beautiful sculptures, artwork Fabulous collection of Gold n Quartz jewellery, Gold Nugget, Diamonds, gold and Ivory. Julie’s Fine Jewelry only offers American-made products and authentic, genuine items crafted by our fellow Alaskans. An extensive selection of gifts and treasured items in our three stores, as well as online. The beautiful products you see here and in our stores are unique and handmade, and many are exclusive to Julie’s.
Ketchikan is famous for the Art Galleries housing exquisite Norwest Coast & Traditional Alaskan Native Art Work Arctic Spirit Gallery.  Or check out the Southeast Alaskan art in Scanlon Art Gallery.  And be sure to stop by the Salmon Etc also family-run, locally owned and operated for over 35 years. the finest locally sourced seafood Alaska offers.  Stock up on delicious smoked salmon and other gourmet goodies to take home with you.
As your cruise ship sets sail from the shores of Ketchikan, you’ll no doubt carry with you memories of an unforgettable day spent exploring this enchanting Alaskan port town. Whether you’re admiring towering totem poles, embarking on a wilderness adventure, or simply soaking in the natural beauty that surrounds you, Ketchikan is sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart.
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