After our day in Vancouver, we got up the next morning and boarded the Serenade of the Seas, and headed to Alaska. Sailing out of Vancouver Harbor was beautiful and I was excited to snap some photos as we headed up the Inside Passage but at that moment I realized I left my camera batteries at the Airbnb in Vancouver. Since our first two ports were islands (Sitka and Juneau) with no road connections to the mainland and lithium batteries cannot be shipped by air, there was no way to order a replacement and get it by the time we were in Alaska. If we were still Nikon shooters, the pharmacy in Sitka sold Nikon batteries, but that was no help as we had our Fuji camera with us. While we still had cell signal we did some internet sleuthing and found a Fuji photographer who used to have a store in Juneau. We sent him an email and were able to meet up with him and buy a battery when we were in Juneau. All that to say that my photos from Sitka and the first half of our day in Juneau were all taken on my phone as we had a camera and an expensive rented telephoto lens, but we had no way to turn it on.
So, after all that stress, we arrived in Sitka. After doing all my research before we left, it seemed that Sitka is a pretty easy port to explore on your own without an excursion. Our ship docked at what is known as the Old Sitka Dock and is a few miles outside town, but they offer a free shuttle to take you downtown. Once we were dropped off at Centennial Hall, we booked a $10 per person shuttle that would take us to Fortress of the Bear, the Alaska Raptor Center, and from there we could walk to the Sitka National Historic Park and back to downtown.
I quickly fell in love with Sitka. Sitka is located on the west side of Baranof Island on the Gulf of Alaska. Because of its location, the island is a temperate rain forest with the temperature varying between 33 and 62 degrees throughout the year with the temperature rarely dropping below 22 degrees. I don’t know about you, but that’s not really what I think of when I hear Alaska weather.
Sitka was home to one of the first European settlements in Alaska being settled by Russian explorers in 1799. In 1802, the native Tlingit destroyed the original settlement killing many of the settlers. In 1804 Russian forces returned and bombarded the Tlingit fort causing the Tlingit people to leave under cover of darkness. The Russian influence in Sitka can still be seen today with the Russian Bishop’s house and St. Michael’s Cathedral still standing in downtown Sitka.
In August of 2015, heavy rains triggered a series of 60 landslides in Sitka, one of which killed three people. The US Geological survey did a landslide assessment of Sitka and determined that the entire island is a landslide risk. Now, the USGS has installed a first-of-its-kind landslide warning system to notify residents of landslide conditions so evacuations can occur.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop back next week to read about our time at Fortress of the Bear in Sitka! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.