Harbor and surrounding mountains
An eleven year quest that started in 2004 has finally come to an end. On my first Alaska cruise in September of 2004, one of the ports-of-call was to be Sitka, Alaska. I had been looking forward to seeing this rarely visited port and its Russian heritage.
As we sailed into Sitka Sound, with heavy winds and pounding rain, past small islands, the village of Sitka straight ahead of us, the Captain announced that due to the weather conditions the ship would not be making a call at Sitka. Forty knot winds were too strong and it would be unsafe to put tenders in the waters. So back out to sea for the day and onto our next port-of-call.
You know how it is. If you can’t have something you want even more. So now, Sitka became a. “I must get to Sitka sometime in my lifetime”.
Ten years later, September of 2014, I was again on a cruise that was going to Sitka. Well, let me back up first. When the itinerary for this specific cruise was first announced, Sitka was one of the ports-of-calls. This was exciting news. At least for me and several of our friends that were on my original Alaska cruise and booked for this 2014 adventure. Several months later the cruise line published the brochure for the 2014 Alaska season and when I looked at it, Sitka had been replaced with Icy Strait Point. Nothing wrong with Icy Strait, I have been there once before, but it’s not Sitka! Foiled again, not by nature, but by the cruise line.
When I took the assignment of Distinctive Voyages host for the current Alaska sailing I am on, once again Sitka was on the itinerary. Sitka was the first port after two sea days from San Francisco. Those two sea days were shrouded in fog, yet very calm seas. It was hard not to wonder if perhaps I would not be getting to Sitka once again. Just not meant to be?
Surprise, surprise. Yesterday morning as we approached Sitka through the Sitka Sound, the sun was out, not a cloud in the sky, and super warm weather, especially by Alaska standards. We sailed past small and large islands. Mount Edgecumbe, an inactive volcano looming in the distance. The surrounding scenery of snow capped mountains as a backdrop for the little town of Sitka.
Sometimes between 2004 and 2015, a pier has been constructed just 5 miles from Sitka where a cruise ship can dock. Only if there is more than one cruise ship in port the same day is tendering required by the second ship.
The drive into town is pretty much like any other Alaska port. Trees right down to the water’s edge where they meet the rocky shoreline. The traffic in town was surprisingly heavy for such a small place. Walked around a bit and saw St. Michael’s Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Church. I finally made it to Sitka.
Until next time,