Alaska Cruise Day 6 – Ketchikan

Today, our port of call would be Ketchikan. It’s considered the first city of Alaska since its the first sign of civilization as you head North into Alaska from its Southern most tip.

Our scheduled arrival time was 1:00 pm. I think we were originally scheduled to dock in Ketchikan, but the port was overcrowded, as have been all the ports, and it was announced we would be tendering in at 1:00 pm with the ship later docking at 3:00 pm once another ship had left port.

Since our planned excursion, The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, had a planned 3:00 pm start, we planned to tender in. That actually works out well since the kids, and myself, like the tenders. They become mini boat rides. Most of the older folks don’t like tendering in because of getting in and out of the tender boats.

This is where Celebrity screwed up. I don’t know if they figured most folks would wait for the docking instead of tendering or what, but they fouled up the tendering process pretty bad and pissed off a bunch of folks. The tendering process was supposed to start at 1:00 pm, so we arrive at the theater to get our tender tickets about 12:45. We got tender ticket #7 which meant we would be on the seventh tender. They also had another room of folks with excursions between 1:00 and 2:30 that they were tendering separate from the folks in the theater.

Normally, when we have tendered in before, they run about 6 tenders to keep a steady stream of folks going. Today, they were only running three tenders which made for a slow operation. I have never waited more than 15 minutes for a tender before. After waiting 90 minutes, we finally got our tender. Turns out it was the last tender before they docked.

90 minutes? Wow, lucky I was on vacation and not gonna get mad. A lot of other folks couldn’t say the same thing. Celebrity had some pretty irate folks that were worried about missing their excursions, a lot of them the same one we were on. They had given out tender tickets all the way to 18, that I know of, and these folks all waited in the theater like we did. Everyone could have used the 90 minutes of waiting to do something else besides sit in the thearer waiting for their tender ticket to be called. I have no clue why they were only running three tenders. I guess they wanted to have to load back on to the ship as few craft as possible. All in all, they managed the tendering/docking process pretty poorly.

In the end, it was kind of funny for us. Being the last tender, the ship was actually moving and enroute to the dock while be boarded the tender. When we separated from the ship, we circled behind the Mercury and headed to the docks. In some irony, we actually docked in our tender at about the same time as the Mercury was just docking and send its mooring lines to the port personnel. The other ships in port were the Celebrity Summit, the Holland America Volendam and the Princess Coral Princess.

Once in Ketchikan, we headed to the lumberjack show. As usual for Ketchikan, it was raining – not a heavy rain, but a soft rain, a little bit more than a drizzle. This was the first bit of rain we have encountered on the cruise. The weather has been usually wonderful for Alaska. Ketchikan gets like 200 inches of precipitation (snow or rain) in a year.

We ended up with a front row seat at the lumberjack show. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from the show, but the kids were very excited. I must say, the say completely surprised me. It was exactly like you see on ESPN or outdoor channels, but was very entertaining. They also threw in a few comedy sketches. They did a wonderful job of getting the crowd into the show and keeping your attention for the entire time. I would say that as our excursions went, it was my favorite.

As part of the show, there was a competition between two teams. The audience was divided into two sides to cheer for their side. When a competitor won a competition, he gave a piece of the remaining wood chip to an audience member to help keep score. Being in the front row, we were in prime seating for this. Sean and Savannah each received a wood disk after a sawing competition. They call them their free souveniers. They are about 15 inches in diameter and an inch or two thick. Of course, the kids wanted to keep them. Figuring there was no way ship security would let them bring them on the boat, we said sure. To my surprise, they were allowed back on the ship with them. Security looked at them a bit funny, said something about cutting boards and just let them back on. Now, we have to get them packed in our luggage.

After the show, we did a bit of shopping in town before heading back to the ship. Dinner was once again very enjoyable. Since Suzanne’s birthday was a couple of weeks before the cruise and my sister Barb’s birthday is a week after the cruise, I let the maitre de know this. They brought out a couple of birthday cakes to help celebrate and sang them Happy Birthday. Suzanne, of course, loved the attention and was all smiles. My sister, however, hates the attention and gave me several glares. Oh well…

The evening’s entertainment included the cruise ship version of the Newlywed and Not So Newlywed game show. It was 30 minutes of nonstop laughing. The kids wanted Suzanne and I to be a part of the game, but we weren’t anxious and didn’t even try.

After the game show, comedian Don Sherman took the stage. We had seen him before on the Mexico cruise last November. He is a very, very funny guy. About half way through the show, however, he suddenly began talking very slow and looked a bit confused. He said he wasn’t feeling well and said he was going to have to go. He walked off the stage, but about 5 seconds later came back. He apologized saying he had gotten very dizzy. Don must be 70 or 80 as he has been around a long time. He started his show back up, but after about 5 more minutes excused himself again. The cruise ship director came out and started to conclude the show and give the plans for the night and next day. After about 30 seconds, Don Sherman came back out. He apologized once again saying that this had never happened before. He talked about dizziness but felt fine now. He couldn’t remember what parts of the show he had done and what parts he hadn’t done. The crowd told him the last joke he had done and he picked up the show from there and completed it in excellent form. Like I said, he is a very funny man. I am not sure why the cruise ship personnel let him keep coming back out as there was clearly something wrong. He seemed fine at the end, but I hope the medical staff checked him out anyways. If you ever get a chance to see a Don Sherman show, do so.

We turned in for the night at about 11:00 but since we were losing an hour due to a time change, it worked out well. Tomorrow is a day at sea, our final full day of the cruise, enroute back to Vancouver.


  1. Bernard Doddema says

    Now that, my friend, is one heck of a day!

    I didn’t know that Ketchikan got so much precip. Pretty amazing.

    I would have loved the lumberjack show. From your description of Don Sherman, it is a wonder that he kept coming out. I wonder if he told the ship personnel that the show must go on?

  2. This was my favorite city that we visited. Felt that I could actually live here. The shopping was great – no junk shops.

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