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- 9.6 Exceptional
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Adventure Cruises in Sitka
Sitka Cruises take visitors on an enchanting and enthralling Alaskan adventure. Sitka cruise packages generally contain a good mixture of natural sightseeing and wildlife spotting with photo opportunities aplenty, with a range of optional activities, including shore excursions, and enough downtime to feel relaxed and refreshed. The spectacular scenery of Sitka is the stuff that postcards and glossy pages in travel magazines thrive on. Located on Baranof Island, Sitka was previously inhabited by the Tlingit people before becoming a Russian settlement. Russia sold Alaska to the USA in the 1860s, and it was in Sitka where the transfer celebrations were held. These celebrations took place on the 18th of November, which is why Alaska Day is held on this date each year.
Things to do & see in Sitka
A Sitka cruise allows you to discover this part of Alaska with ease. Moving from one exciting place to another, small ship cruises allow you to really get to know the area and explore many fascinating places. Whilst Sitka is mainly a start and endpoint for Alaska cruises to the Northern Passages, there are still plenty of great things to enjoy in and around the city, some of which are actually included in several cruise itineraries. Some top things to enjoy in Sitka include:
Sitka National Historical Park - Sitka National Historical Park is a terrific place to visit if you are interested in knowing more about the area’s past and the peoples that have inhabited the area over the course of its history. With an interesting assortment of exhibits and displays detailing the Tlingit native group and the former Russian community, from the times when Alaska was Russian territory, some of the most intriguing items include ornate and symbolic totem poles and the restored Russian Bishop’s House. The park actually sits on a former battle site, where Russian invaders defeated the Tlingit group following a week-long bloody battle.
Alaska Raptor Center - The Alaska Raptor Center is a prime attraction for bird lovers and keen conservationists. Not only does a trip allow you to see a variety of large feathered creatures and learn about the work of the center, but your trip also helps to support the valuable work of protecting wildlife. A favorite for many on a Sitka cruise or tour of Sitka, the Alaska Raptor Center takes in and treats sick and injured birds from all over the state. It treats between 100 and 200 winged creatures, such as eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls each year, nursing the birds back to health and providing rehabilitation before releasing them back into the wild. Those that cannot return to independent life are kept at the center.
Sheldon Jackson Museum - Another local attraction to enjoy whilst on an Alaska cruise, specifically a Sitka cruise, is the interesting Sheldon Jackson Museum. Housing a fascinating collection of ethnographic items and artifacts, it allows you to step back into the past and explore Alaska through the ages. It is named after the collector of many of the museum’s exhibits, a man who gathered in excess of 5,000 pieces on his extensive travels around the state. Traditional garments, wooden kayaks, household items, masks, and totems are amongst the items on display. Despite the extensive collections, the museum is relatively compact, allowing for easy exploration and admiration.
Nature Spotting Active Adventures - The waters surrounding Baronof Island, and thus within easy reach of Sitka, are home to whales and sea lions. As well as being able to view these magical creatures from your cruise ship you can get even closer and have a thrilling wildlife experience combined with active adventures in a kayak or a skiff (small boat).
Best time to cruise from Sitka
The summer months are the most popular time for cruising from Sitka, with warmer daytime temperatures and sunnier days. Mid May to mid-September sees the most visitors, with the shoulder season (early May and late September) often yielding some of the most affordable prices with smaller crowds. The peak tourist period is from June to August. Although still beautiful in the winter, the colder temperatures are often a deal-breaker for visitors; summertime really is the best time to visit Sitka.
Spring and summer are the optimal seasons to see wildlife around Sitka. Watch a variety of water creatures and birds, including eagles, returning after the winter migration. November in Sitka is, however, when the area holds its annual WhaleFest celebrations.
What cruises depart from Sitka?
A number of Alaska cruises depart from Sitka, including those to Ketchikan and Juneau. Have a memorable vacation exploring Alaska's Islands and the Northern Passages, visiting some of these world-class destinations:
Baranof Island - Although Sitka is located on Baranof Island, and you may have spent a few days exploring the city before joining your cruise, there are many more delights waiting for you along the island’s coast. Discover hidden coves and small unspoiled islands that are only populated by wildlife, take scenic hikes along the coast and through the interior, and spot a wide array of flora and fauna in the Tongass National Forest.
Chichagof Island - Get your camera at the ready for sailing through the deep glacial fjords near Chichagof Island; it’s certainly incredibly photogenic and picturesque. Hiking, kayaking, and sailing a skill are amongst the activities often available from a Sitka cruise.
Glacier Bay - A spectacular destination that is, unsurprisingly, home to a huge number of glaciers, make sure you visit Glacier Bay National Park before the now-retreating landscapes have become significantly altered. A marvelous sight, the bright glaciers often calve, sending gigantic blocks of ice plummeting into the shimmering waters below. A plethora of wildlife lives in the area, making your experience even more magical.
Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm - Two neighboring fjords, sail through Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm for an awe-inspiring experience. Towering mountains and glaciers can be seen all around, as well as sparkling waterfalls and plenty of native creatures on the land, in the air, and in the waters. Take your binoculars for close-up views of the birdlife.
How do I get to Sitka?
Sitka can only be reached by air or by sea. Direct flights operate from Seattle on the US mainland and several airports around Alaska, including Ketchikan and Juneau. You can reach a greater variety of state-wide and outer-state places if you change aircraft. Many flights from around the US mainland land in Anchorage. The local airport is Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT). Situated around 2 miles (3.2 km) from the heart of the city, regular shuttle buses connect the airport with downtown.
Our reservations team can help you book your next Alaska cruise from/to Sitka. Contact us today.
- 9.7 Exceptional
- 14 Verified Reviews
Sitka was our favorite town and was not overrun by large cruise ships. Shopping was fun and the local restaurants very tasty. Loads of bald eagles everywhere and the raptor center was amazing!
Diving Sitka in June on the Island Spirit
Loved the Raptor center and the Bear Sanctuary...Toby the large female was interesting
Diving Sitka in August on the Admiralty Dream
Apprecited the extra mile to let us go on the extra tour to see the puffins.
Diving Sitka in May on the Alaskan Dream
Loved Sitka. Glad we saw totem park and Fortress of the bears on our own. The clan house and dancing were good. Russian Orthodox Church was interesting. Raptor Center was wonderful. But I would have been disappointed to have missed totems and bears. Perhaps you could recommend these for folks who come early. Hank the taxi driver drove us to Fortress of Bears; then came back for us. He was rear and had lots of stories.
Diving Sitka in May on the Alaskan Dream
Overall, good. Raptor Center and Bear Center were highlights. Would have liked less time at the church and more time at Sitka National Historical Park. A bit of a fumble at the handoff from tour excursion to boarding the boat.
Diving Sitka in July on the Island Spirit
Two excellent venues — native museum and the science center — were a nice addition to the trip.
Diving Sitka in July on the Westward
Could have been p[aired to 2 out of the 3 so as to have more time to enjoy them
Diving Sitka in August on the Admiralty Dream