Rain was initially forecast for Sitka, but as we arrive there is some sun and scattered clouds. We were unable to book a shore excursion here, so we take the free 15 minute shuttle ride into town.
Sitka is very small, with a year round population of 8,000. The visitor center is very modern with clean facilities. There are the usual vendors selling tours outside. We settle on a 3 hour tour duplicating the tour we wanted but was sold out on the ship.
Having almost two hours before departure, we walk the town. A few stores have not survivied the pandemic. The local merchants are selling mostly local merchandise. None of the Diamond and Jewelry merchants here. We look for a place to grab a bite to eat. Not an easy task. Stopping at something similar to a convenience store selling mostly candy and cigarettes we learn that next door has good food, and they open in about 15 minutes. You would never guess from the signage that they sold food.
We decide to give it a try. The beef dumplings were delicious, and everything was very reasonably priced. In conversation I learn that the convenience store does about $100 per day from local residents. When there is a cruise ship in port his revenue jumps to an average of $2000 for the day. He obviously is in favor of cruise ships, a debate that occurs in many ports.
A short walk back to the departure point for our tour. Everyone is there before departure time, 11 people packed into a 12 passenger van.
The first stop is the Sitka Raptor Center where they help injured raptors, mostly bald eagles and owls, recuperate after being injured. Some become permanent residents as they will never be able to fend for themselves, most are released back into the wild. The majority of the birds are here as a result of encounters with humans or human activity. Well done and interesting. Maybe a total of 25 people. Much better than a couple of tour buses.
Our second stop is a bear sanctuary built in the waste water processing tanks of a closed paper pulp mill. Both brown and black bears are nursed to recover from injury. Unfortunately state laws prevent the bears from being reintroduced into the wild, but there are efforts underway to change that.
Our last stop is at a National Park featuring totem poles. As with most national parks, very informative and well done. I can only guess, but the massive pole if front of the building must reach 75 feet in height and be 4 feet in diameter. All totem poles tell a story, but of course I am unable to read them.
The driver takes us back to the ship at the end of the tour. Another day with no rain.
Many crew members remember us from our cruise to Panama about a month ago. Our waiter spotted us in the Lido during lunch time, remembering not only which table number we sat at but what beverages we usually had with dinner. A command of memory that I can only dream about.
Nearing the end of the cruise I have yet to see a single passenger give a tip of any kind. A sad statement on society that I personally find very disappointing.
Dinner is again excellent in the dining room. It seems much busier tonight, whether that is fact or not I am not sure. I am on Holland's "Open Dining", but have a reservation for most nights at 5:30 at the same table. The exceptions are the night we arrived in port at 6 PM, and the nights we went to or are going to go to a specialty restaurant.
The production show tonight is a combination of a singer from the group playing most nights in BB-Kings, the two piano players from "Billboard" and the team of dancers. A good show.
Tomorrow we are docked in Ketchikan. The official docking time is 7:30, but have been told by the cruise director that the gangway will most likely be open just after 6:00, he just isn't allowed to make an announcement until 7:30.
A night to retire early.