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Ketchikan on a Budget

A cruise is expensive, no doubt about it.  But how can we maximize and stretch that dollar so we can enjoy shore excursions without blowing our children’s college fund?  By planning in advance!

Salmon Capital

Ketchikan is known as the salmon capital of the world.  And rightfully so!  Of course, the one time we spent big

bucks and took a fishing excursion, we didn’t get one nibble.  Not even a glimpse on any of the radars on the boat, and neither did all of the other fish boat captains on the CB radio we were listening to!  That first trip to Ketchikan made me really wonder about that whole slogan of being the salmon capital, but alas, the whales had come through the previous day… and fish are smart!

Salmon Education

This most recent trip with the kids meant two things:  we needed something to keep them engaged and we needed something affordable.  Or better yet, free!   So we did a little of both.   Disembarking in Ketchikan, we enjoyed looking at the art work along the pier as we made our way to the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.  This is part of the Tongass National Forest, and has a very small entry fee.  In fact, if you are a US National Park Pass holder (senior pass, annual pass, etc.) then you get in free!  Even better is they also have activities geared towards children that are educational not only for them but for us adults as well.  The Tongass Junior Ranger Activity Book was completed by both children, and we had great views out the windows with large chairs to relax in while working through the book.  As a certified educator who believes that the world is an amazing classroom, this was very well worth our visit in getting the most out of incorporating fun learning into our cruise port day.  In fact, we even brought along books to read while in Alaska to bring the literature to life. Here are some age-appropriate books I purchased for the kids to read either before or while in Alaska to help them fully immerse themselves into the amazing scenery we would see from the ship and ashore, as well as an opportunity to increase vocabulary:

  • Ice Dogs (Lexile 690L)

  • Strangers on a Train (Lexile 710L)

  • The Year of Miss Agnes (Lexile 790L)

Salmon Tacos

Taking in culinary delights on our travels is another important aspect of our trips like education.  A friend had recommended trying the blackened salmon tacos at The Alaska Fish House, so we popped in there. Of course I ran into others and started chatting, not getting to specify to my husband standing in line that I wanted blackened salmon tacos.  Not just salmon tacos, but blackened.  Oooops.  By the time we received our order, I realized my mistake in sharing that one little word.  Oh well, we will be returning so that will be on my list again!  While I am not a picky person or self-proclaimed foodie by any means, it’s a good enough excuse to make sure we return, right?  Besides, it is just nextdoor to the lumberjack show, which we plan to visit on our next trip to Alaska.

Salmon on Creek Street

We meandered our way along the infamous Creek Street, passing Dolly’s House and the New York hotel.  This gave an opportunity to mention a little bit about the history of the area to our children… or skip that little tidbit.  However, it is something many people pass and see women outside to help advertise the museum.  Still, this is one of the best boardwalks in the world with views of totem poles and opportunities to view thousands of salmon returning to make their way up the creek during the summer months.  We also paid a few dollars each to ride the funicular up to Cape Fox Lodge, a rustic / chic hotel at the top of a hill, and then take the walk back down on our own to explore some of Married Man’s Trail.  Continuing on the pathways we made our way to Park Avenue, enabling us to enjoy a viewing platform over the rushing waters.  This gave us a moment to observe the waters, discuss what we were seeing, hearing and smelling, and appreciate the work these salmon must do each year.

Salmon Hatcheries

While there are many salmon / fish hatcheries in the area, we chose to

The walk back down the slight hill to the ship was pleasant as we passed a gorgeous church and had the opportunity to stop and take a picture in front of the infamous Ketchikan sign.  Ketchikan is easily accessible for walkers to get your steps in for the day, enjoy the fresh air, and get a touch of local history and delicacies on an excellent budget in getting the most out of your cruise vacation!  What is our one regret?

Not attending a lumberjack show that time (but did later).  It was easy walking distance and piqued our children’s curiosity, so that is on the agenda for next time… along with the blackened salmon tacos.   Another time we added a guided excursion to see the totem poles, varying it up for our cruise each time depending on our budget. 

Possible Curriculum Correlations in Texas:


Organisms and environments. The student knows that organisms resemble their parents and have structures and processes that help them survive within their environments. The student is expected to:

(D) observe and record life cycles of animals such as a chicken, frog, or fish.

(10) Organisms and environments. The student knows that organisms resemble their parents and have structures and processes that help them survive within their environments. The student is expected to:

(A) observe, record, and compare how the physical characteristics and behaviors of animals help them meet their basic needs such as fins help fish move and balance in the water;

(12) Organisms and environments. The student knows that living systems at all levels of organization demonstrate the complementary nature of structure and function. The student is expected to:

(A) investigate and explain how internal structures of organisms have adaptations that allow specific functions such as gills in fish, hollow bones in birds, or xylem in plants;

(12) Science concepts. The student understands how human activities impact aquatic environments. The student is expected to:

(A) predict effects of chemical, organic, physical, and thermal changes from humans on the living and nonliving components of an aquatic ecosystem;

(B) analyze the cumulative impact of human population growth on an aquatic system;

(C) investigate the role of humans in unbalanced systems such as invasive species, fish farming, cultural eutrophication, or red tides;

(D) analyze and discuss how human activities such as fishing, transportation, dams, and recreation influence aquatic environments; and

(E) understand the impact of various laws and policies such as The Endangered Species Act, right of capture laws, or Clean Water Act on aquatic systems.

Social Studies – Many relating to Geography

Photo Credit: My daddy from my parents’ visit one May with beautiful skies

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