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Alaska’s first city, Ketchikan, is surprisingly colorful. The buildings and waterfront are a mosaic of color: greens, reds, purples, and yellows are punctuated with totem poles (including the one in the U.S. passport!) and fishing industry memorabilia. Like most ports in the Last Frontier, Ketchikan has character – as do the Ketchikan cruise excursions you can book during your Alaska cruise.

I had the chance to visit Ketchikan as part of an Alaska cruise in 2017 – my unforgettable UnCruise experience. The cruise started out from Ketchikan, so I had the chance to explore town and get to know a bit more about what this small Alaskan city has to offer.

Based on my experience, I’ve scoured the list of cruise excursions offered by the big cruise companies, and put together my own list of the best Alaska cruise excursions in Ketchikan. These Ketchikan cruise excursions sample the menu: history, culture, wildlife, scenery, food, and adventure. There’s something for everyone in Ketchikan, and this list will have at least one cruise excursion you’re keen to book in Ketchikan.


Who Offers Alaska Cruise Excursions in Ketchikan?

Ketchikan Cruise Excursions

In my research, I found that 20 of 21 cruise companies operating in Alaska offered a port stop in Ketchikan. Of those 20 companies, 12 have listed Alaska cruise excursions in Ketchikan for the 2020 season: Carnival CruisesCelebrity CruisesCrystal CruisesDisney Cruise LinesHolland AmericaNorwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruise LinesPrincess Cruise Lines, Regent Seven SeasRoyal CaribbeanViking Cruises, and Windstar Cruises. Several other cruise companies also list that they have Juneau cruise excursions but no details on their site: Alaskan Dream Cruises, Azamara, Cunard, Hurtigruten, Lindblad, Seabourn, Silversea, and UnCruise.

Princess Cruises offers the greatest number of Ketchikan cruise excursions. They have 51 different excursions available; Celebrity Cruises is a close second with 49 excursions to choose from.

It’s tough to say which company has the best excursion options based on my list below… However Norwegian Cruise Line is the only company that offers all of the Ketchikan cruise excursions I consider the best. So if you want the greatest number of options, consider booking with them!

Note: To the best of my knowledge, the cruise excursions listed in this post are accurate for the 2020 Alaska cruise season. However, there may be inaccuracies or schedule changes that I haven’t yet added. Also, if you see an excursion you love which isn’t offered by your cruise company, be sure to check their website as the final resource on which cruise excursions are offered in Ketchikan.

The Best Excursions in Ketchikan for Your Alaska Cruise

Ketchikan Cruise Excursions

On my visit to Ketchikan, it poured buckets pretty much the whole day. After all Ketchikan receives precipitation 234 days per year on average! I didn’t let that dampen my spirits though, and neither should you. Even if it’s raining, these are the best cruise excursions in Ketchikan.

1. Saxman Native Village & Lumberjack Show Combo

Ketchikan Saxman Native Village

Like Skagway further up Alaska’s Inside Passage, Ketchikan is one of the major destinations for learning about state history. And the best Alaska cruise excursion in town lets you experience two of the major chapters in Ketchikan’s history: Alaska Native heritage and the industrial history that built the modern town.

There are several tours that include a visit to Saxman Native Village or the Lumberjack Show along with another activity – but this combo tour that has both is the one I recommend because it packs that one-two punch in a single tour.

Who Offers This Excursion?

As one of the most popular excursions in town, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean offer this cruise excursion.

2. Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer

If learning about Alaska history isn’t your top priority on your cruise, I’m guessing scenery and wildlife are close to the top of the list. In that case, you should definitely consider booking this excursion to Misty Fjords National Monument.

Large cruise ships can’t enter Misty Fjords National Monument, so you’ll spend this 4.5-5 hour excursion aboard a smaller boat, exploring the deep fjord waterways looking for wildlife like bears and eagles. Having cruised in Misty Fjords on my first Alaska cruise, I highly recommend this one! (Note: this excursion doesn’t include kayaking like in my photo above, but I wanted to use that to show you the scenery!)

Who Offers This Excursion?

Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Viking all offer this jaw-dropping scenic excursion.

3. Lighthouse, Totems & Eagles Excursion

UnCruise - Ketchikan Totem Poles

If the history-focused excursion I put as #1 and the scenery/wildlife one I put as #2 both sound good, consider this: this 3+ hour excursion allows you to board a shore cruise to Totem Bight State Park past Guard Island Lighthouse – Alaska Native history mixed with modern development. Along the way, you can keep your eyes peeled for Bald Eagles that nest in the shoreline trees.

Who Offers This Excursion?

Those who want it all can book this excursion if you’re cruising on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.

4. Rainforest Exploration & Raptor Experience

Level up your eagle experience in Ketchikan with this excursion – it includes a guided walk through the Tongass National Rainforest (yes, Alaska has a rainforest!) and a visit to a predatory bird sanctuary. There you’ll meet some of Alaska’s most badass birds: eagles, hawks, and owls too.

Who Offers This Excursion?

Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar all offer this excursion.

5. Wildlife Safari & Beach Bonfire

Ketchikan Beach Bonfire

When I review cruise excursions in each of the Alaska ports, I always look for a great one for families. While most Alaska cruisers are more mature travelers ticking it off their bucket list, there is an increasing percentage of families helping young travelers gain an appreciation for the beauty of our world.

That’s why this cruise excursion makes my list. This 3.5- to 4-hour tour includes a short cruise where you can try to spot harbor seals, bears, eagles, and other wildlife. You’ll then enjoy a wildfire with snacks ashore on Annette Island, including reindeer sausage and s’mores. Like I said: perfect for all ages!

Who Offers This Excursion?

Cruisers with kids or kids at heart can book this excursion on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean.

6. Coastal Cruise, Oyster Farm & Tasting

Foodie travelers – I haven’t forgotten you! This is the first of three Ketchikan cruise excursion I think are great if you love local food; this one takes the top place because it’s exclusive and indulgent. I mean, oysters are somehow always magically indulgent despite being a simple shellfish.

On this 3-hour excursion, you’ll travel to Hump Island Oyster & Kelp Farm. There, you’ll learn about oyster farming – and kelp farming, which is apparently a thing! You’ll get a hands-on experience with Alaskan sealife, then go farm-to-table (or is it ‘hand-to-table’) with an oyster and kelp tasting. It literally doesn’t get fresher or more local than that!

Who Offers This Excursion?

Savor this excursion by booking it if you are cruising on Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, and Regent Seven Seas.

7. Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventure

Ketchikan Cruise Excursions - Snorkeling - Curtis & Renee via Flickr
Photo credit: Curtis & Renee via Flickr

Adventure travelers might wonder what Ketchikan has to offer – but this excursion makes up for all that. (This is the one I would book if I were planning my Alaska cruise today!)

In this Ketchikan cruise excursion, you’ll put on a 7mm dry suit, hat, boot, and gloves, and slip into the frigid Alaskan water. Underwater, you’ll get to see and hold some of the sea life that live in the waterways around Ketchikan. Afterward, you’ll warm up with hot beverages before returning to the ship.

Who Offers This Excursion?

As Barney says in How I Met Your Mother, you can ‘suit up’ for this excursion if you’re cruising on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.

8. Ketchikan Pub Crawl

If your definition of ‘foodie’ really translates as ‘craft beer,’ then you’ll want to sidle up to the bar for this excursion. During a 90-minute tour of downtown Ketchikan, you’ll participate in a pub crawl through local watering holes, learning about the town’s colorful history long Creek Street.

Who Offers This Excursion?

Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, and Regent Seven Seas all offer this adults-oriented excursion.

9. Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour

Ketchikan Cruise Excursions - Crabbing - Eric Heath via Flickr
Photo credit: Eric Heath via Flickr

If you love Deadliest Catch, this final excursion on my list is a much calmer version of that. During this 3.5-hour excursion, you’ll board the Aleutian Ballad – one of the ships from the TV show! – and cruise out to learn about crabbing and long-line fishing. It will give you an idea of one of the toughest jobs in Alaska.

Who Offers This Excursion?

Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Viking all offer this excursion.

There you have it – my take on the best Alaska cruise excursions in Ketchikan. Have other questions about visiting Ketchikan, taking an Alaska cruise, or choosing Alaska cruise excursions? Let me know in the comments!

Keep Planning Your Alaska Cruise!

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