Sitka, Alaska. We pulled into port at about 7:00 am and readied ourselves for a whirlwind tour of Sitka.
The thing about cruising is that you really don’t have that much control over your time when in port. You have to make sure you’re back for ‘all aboard.’ If not, you will be left behind. Our style of travel (explore where the wind blows you) doesn’t fit well with this schedule, but we took the experience for what it was worth and booked an excursion that introduced us to the Alaska Raptor Center, Sitka National Historical Park (part of the National Park Service), and a cultural presentation by the native Tlingit people at the Naa Kahídi Community House.
Alaska Raptor Center
Our first stop was the Alaska Raptor Center, where they care for injured bald eagles, owls, and other raptors. We saw up-close some of these beautiful birds and met some of the people who care for them.
We saw a presentation that introduced us to Spirit, a young bald eagle. She won’t get the recognizable white head and tail until she is five years old.
We also explored the outdoor areas and spied some more beautiful raptors.
Unfortunately, we did not have long to explore, before being ushered on to our next sight of interest.
Sitka National Historical Park
Our family loves the National Park Service and could have spent all day exploring Sitka National Historical Park. Once again, that would have to be saved for our next trip to Alaska.
Sitka NHP was a beautiful sight, featuring walking trails, wildlife, and amazing totem poles. We took a short nature walk, encountered a couple of totems, and earned our Junior Ranger badges.
Naa Kahídi Community House
Next, we saw a cultural presentation by representatives of the native Tlingit tribe. These fine people introduced us to the symbolism of their culture, taught us a few Tlingit words, and performed several dances and songs. It was truly enjoyable and educational.
Yes, we did all of that before lunch. Needless to say we were hungry and exhausted, but we had a few hours until we had to be back on the ship. So we intentionally missed the bus back to the boat in favor of exploring Sitka for a while. (This bothered my son to no end. He was so worried that we missed the bus and couldn’t figure out why we would intentionally do so!)
Anyway, we explored the town, the local bookstore, the local Ben Franklin, and found a little cafe in town. We had some vegetarian raviolini soup, bagels, and soft pretzels. And topped it off with some frozen yogurt.
After exploring a bit more, we took the free shuttle back to the boat and continued our cruising experience.