Alaska Map
Petersburg Map
Mitkof Island & Vicinity Map

We arrive
Kenai Peninsula
Glacier Bay
Glacier Gardens
A brief detour
Aboard the Sheltered Seas
Petersburg to Ketchikan
Last Leg

Petersburg harbor

Eagles feed on mudflats
along Wrangell Narrows

Competing Miss 4th of July food stands, in downtown Wrangell

Ketchican totem and street scene

Petersburg and Ketchikan

Our "home port" for the two middle nights of our cruise was Petersburg, a small town of 3,100 with a strong Norwegian heritage. Besides a breakfast of vafler (waffles), geitost (a sweet brown goat cheese) and herring, we enjoyed an evening banquet at the Sons of Norway Lodge and a presentation by Norwegian folk dancers. Ketchikan gets the large cruise boats and lacked a small-town-Alaska feel. Petersburg is still real: people work at one of the the canneries (Petersburg is home to the state's largest commercial fishing fleet), shop on the main street with a supermarket, drug store, laundromat and hardware store interspersed with fewer than half a dozen galleries for the visitors. Many stores were adorned with rosemaling (Norwegian folk painting). The local toy store gives out packs of baseball cards to kids with good report cards.

Leaving Petersburg was interesting: a local fishing boat moored within inches of our boat made it nearly impossible to leave. Another cruise boat edged forward so we could navigate out of our “parking space.” Later the captain explained that the owner of the fishing boat liked to make life difficult for the cruise boats; he preferred the economy to rely on fishing, not sightseeing.

En route to Wrangell and our disemarkation port of Ketchikan, the captain of the Sheltered Seas wended his way through the Wrangell Narrows, also known as Christmas Tree Lane because of the red and green channel marker lights. At one point, we waited for a large barge to come through in the opposite direction; it was loaded with semi-truck containers, backhoes, boats and other essentials going to Juneau. If you move there, you rent a container for all your possessions and have them barged in.

After passing through the narrows we made our way across open water to Wrangell for an hour-and-a-half stop; again, this town gets only smaller boats and some of the galleries did not even open when we docked. Rather, the highlight for the townspeople were two food stands, each sponsored by a competitor for Miss 4th of July contest. The candidate whose volunteers sold the most was to be crowned queen; the money raised went to pay for the celebrations. When the noon whistle blew, a number of people drove or streamed into town to register their choice (and get a hot dog). Bob forgets who he voted for but reported hot dog was tasty.

The lunches and two dinners served aboard the Sheltered Seas were, in Bob's estimation, disappointing. But each day, our shipboard bartender offered special refreshments and we enjoyed hot chocolate with crème de menthe and a “brown bear” concocted from vodka, cranberry and curacao. The wine, beer and mixed drinks made up for the so-so meals.

Next: Last Leg

Old Town Ketchikan

Viking ship replica outside
Sons of Norway Hall, Petersburg

Petersburg storefront with rosemaling

Dancers at Sons of Norway Hall

Petersburg's Hammer Slough

Ketchikan funicular from hotel
© Robert and Jean Sue Libkind