Popular cruise destinations along the Alaska Inside Passage include Alaska's capital city Juneau, North America's northernmost ice-free deep-water port Skagway and the tranquil small town of Ketchikan. The picturesque provincial town with a population of around 12.000 is located not far from the border with Canada on Revillagigedo Island, which is part of the Tongass National Forest. Ketchikan was officially founded in 1900.
Ketchikan thrives on fish and tourists
Ketchikan is surrounded by rich fishing grounds. In 1883, the first factory for processing fish, especially wild salmon, was set up in the former wasteland. Additional businesses emerged in the following years.
Ketchikan - successful fisherman - seal in Ketchikan Creek
Mining and the extraction and processing of timber were added to the fishing industry. Mining in particular made the place thrive. However, mining and logging are a thing of the past. Today Ketchikan and its residents live primarily from fishing and tourism.
Ketchikan – cruise ship destination
In particular, the Alaska cruise ship season, which runs from mid-April to October, brings an incredible number of visitors to the small town. In September 2019, Ketchikan, Alaska's second largest cruise port, recorded a new record with almost 1,2 million cruise passengers. On some days, six to seven ships dock at the small town's long quays. The almost 12.000 residents (US census from 2020) have to “put up with” around 13.000 ship guests on such days. And the success story continues. A total of 2023 cruise ships were expected in 649 (source: Ketchikan Visitor Bureau).
Ketchikan - Norwegian Sun at the Cruise Terminal
Day visitors arriving on cruise ships have a lot to offer in addition to the attractive location and the remarkably beautiful landscape. Recreational activities include fishing, wildlife viewing, kayaking, zip-lining, a lumberjack show, and more. Under Ketchikan – Attractions we explain what is interesting and what things to do in Ketchikan.
Update February 2024