Ketchikan, our final port on the 7-day Disney Wonder Alaskan cruise, was smaller than Juneau but larger than Skagway (our first port further north).
Our excursions didn’t start until 1pm, so in the morning Alex and I were able to spend some time on our own in town to see the major tourist destinations. With less than an hour we were able to walk from the ship to the popular Creek Street shops area. With more time we would have visited one of the local history museums or the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center visitor center.
After our day’s excursions we were the only ship left in town, and most of the shops and restaurants had closed down for the evening. In the relative calm we were able to take pictures on Creek Street and walk on the town’s sidewalks with fewer tourists.
The most popular draw was Creek Street- a historic fisherman’s “red light” district that is now home to locally run gift shops instead of brothels.
The town is still very much an active fishing port, with one of the tourist attractions the “salmon ladder” that helps them swim upstream to spawn.
Saxman Native Village
For our first booked excursion, we chose to visit Saxman Village to learn about the history of the Native Tlingit cultures of Alaska. While visitors can view the grounds without a guided tour, our guide helped us learn about both the historic and living culture of the Tlingit people. We learned one of the most important aspects was their matriarchal family structure, with Clans being passed from the mother’s side of the family. Every Tlingit is a member of either the Eagle or Raven Clan, and traditionally do not marry members of the same Clan. Animals also represent smaller sub-clans, and the Tlingit’s clothing, totems, and other items are decorated to represent their families.
Our guide took us on a tour of the totem poles, explaining that they were used to tell stories and to mark locations. The totems were painted with the same green, light blue and red colors that could have been used before manufactured paint was available. The final part of the guided tour took us into the Carving Center where we learned how totem poles are built and used today and how to ensure that we purchase Alaskan Native items from ethical sources.
The grounds are accessible without a guided tour, but to see a performance and have Tlingit guides it must be booked in advance. Our tour included a traditional dance performance by members of the Tlingit community in the recreated Beaver Clan house.
The Clan House was built using western red cedar and sitka spruce, with four large totems and a pit in the center. The space under the raised floor could be used for storage.
Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show
Our second excursion was directly next to the cruise ship; the Alaskan Lumberjack Show. Our hostess explained the process for the competition between two teams of lumberjacks, with each side of the audience on either the Canadian or American team.
A few members of the audience (children and adults) were selected to partner with the lumberjacks on stage for the challenges. The last part of the competition was a fan favorite; the log rolling duel. The feats of athleticism were impressive for adults and children, with the lumberjacks rewarding the audience for participation.
Back in “The Bubble”
We were greeted at the start of the show by Goofy; our performance was reserved for passengers on the Disney Wonder.
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