Ketchikan Cruise Port: Piers, What to Do and Getting Around

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Ketchikan, Alaska, may be known as the unofficial “salmon capital of the world,” but it is much more than its fishing industry. That’s because the remote city is also home to an important Alaskan port of call—the Ketchikan Cruise Port.

Not only is it a high-traffic cruise port, but it also showcases the rugged and untamed beauty of the Last Frontier. 

If you are planning an Alaskan cruise, your ship will likely spend time at the relatively small but crucially important Ketchikan Cruise Port.

To help you get the most out of your visit, we will provide you with all of the information you need to know about the port itself and the surrounding area.

Ketchikan Cruise Port Location

Ketchikan Cruise Port, also known as the Port of Ketchikan, is located on Revillagigedo Island near the southeast tip of Alaska. It is also right on the doorstep of the city from which it takes its name, providing visitors with easy access to everything it has to offer.

While Ketchikan is only home to a permanent population of roughly 8,000 residents, it still has plenty to offer visitors. At just 88 miles away, the town and its port are significantly closer to Prince Rupert, BC, Canada, than to the major cities of Alaska, like Juneau, Skagway, and Anchorage.

Cruise Ship Docked at Ketchikan Cruise Port
Cruise Ship Docked at Ketchikan Cruise Port (Photo Credit: Russ Heinl)

This strategic southern location is actually why it is such a high-traffic port of call. With so many cruise ships departing from Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, Canada, Ketchikan Cruise Port provides many visitors their first opportunity to step on Alaskan soil. 

Ketchikan Cruise Port Address

The port’s actual address is 334 Front Street, Ketchikan, AK, USA 99901. 

The port is one of the most defining features of the south end of the City of Ketchikan, so it is relatively easy to find. It is also strategically situated along the scenic Tongass Narrows, which divide Revillagigedo Island from the nearby Gravina Island that the city faces. Visitors can easily find it by simply walking along the city’s coastline.

Ketchikan Cruise Port
Ketchikan Cruise Port (Photo Credit: Just dance)

Distance from the Airport to Ketchikan

While most passengers will find themselves in Ketchikan Cruise Port as part of a port of call visit, it is also used by some cruise lines as a point of embarkation. If you need to fly to meet your ship at the port, you will be relieved to learn that it is conveniently close to Ketchikan International Airport (KTN).

Given that the airport is on a separate island on the other side of the Tongass Narrows, there are no direct roads connecting it to the cruise port. However, the Ketchikan Airport Ferry provides transportation between the town and the airport.

Ketchikan International Airport (KTN)
Ketchikan International Airport (KTN), Photo Credit: Ramunas Bruzas / Shutterstock

Ferries cross the Tongass Narrows every 15 minutes, from 6:15 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. local time. For one-way travel, tickets are $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children. Even if you are waiting due to a delay, there is a comfortable indoor passenger waiting area. 

Ferry rides take roughly 30 minutes, but they allow travelers to glimpse some of the views that make Ketchikan such a special place. Once you have arrived in Ketchikan, you will need to use one of the Ketchikan Airport Shuttles to take you to the cruise port, as the ferry’s drop-off points are closer to downtown than the cruise ship berths.

You also have the option to take a taxi or shared ride van, which are both usually waiting at the ferry terminal. 

Cruise Lines that Use Ketchikan Cruise Port 

The port is visited by all the major cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Celebrity Cruises.

Ketchikan Port Terminals and Piers 

Following a 2020 expansion project paid for by NCLH, the parent company of Norwegian and Oceania Cruise Lines, Ketchikan Cruise Port now has three dedicated cruise piers. 

The three piers are divided into four berths, each capable of handling Panamax-sized cruise ships. Given Ketchikan’s remoteness and relatively small size, the city’s cruise port is quite impressive.

Cruise Ships Docked in Ketchikan, Alaska
Cruise Ships Docked in Ketchikan, Alaska (Photo Credit: mhgstan / Shutterstock)

Navigating the cruise port is relatively straightforward, as the four berths are numbered sequentially from south to north along the waterfront. 

While terminal facilities are limited, Berth III and Berth IV both have indoor areas where passengers can wait. The two smaller berths, Daly Float and Ryus Float, do not have their own indoor terminal facilities, but there are indoor waiting areas at the port’s entrance. 

Terminal Facilities and Services 

Terminal facilities are limited at the Ketchikan Cruise Port; however, there are two visitor centers where cruise passengers can wait for their boarding times. The visitor centers have open seating areas, making them a great place to stay dry. 

The main tourist information center is near the port’s main entrance. Here, you will find representatives from each major cruise line operating out of the port. You can ask questions or even purchase local excursion packages. You’ll also find plenty of hiking maps, bus schedules, and brochures for things to do in and around Ketchikan.

The Cruise Pier in Ketchikan
The Cruise Pier in Ketchikan (Photo Credit: EWY Media)

Washroom facilities are spread throughout the port, and they are relatively well-maintained. If you are looking for transportation into the core of downtown Ketchikan, the city offers a free shuttle service. Well-marked pickup zones are at each of the four cruise berths, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting on a shuttle bus.

Once you have taken the shuttle into downtown, using the local bus is a great way to save money. With bus fares only costing $1, it’s a cheap and easy way to get around the city.

Read Also: Whittier Cruise Port – Terminal, Directions and Info

Unfortunately, the port does not offer free public Wi-Fi, but there are plenty of coffee shops within the city where you can connect to the internet. 

As for accessibility, the port is wheelchair-friendly, with ramps ensuring that all passengers can easily find their way to and from their respective ships. 

Seasonal Weather Conditions in Ketchikan 

Aside from its once-booming salmon and halibut fishing industry, Ketchikan is most famous for its incredible rainfall. With roughly 300 days of rain per year and an average annual rainfall of 200 inches, you will want to make sure you are packing waterproof outerwear.

Cruise Ships Docked at Ketchikan Cruise Port
Cruise Ships Docked at Ketchikan Cruise Port (Photo Credit: Stillgravity)

In fact, Ketchikan is considered to be the fourth wettest city on earth, so make sure you dress accordingly, no matter when you visit. With that said, temperatures and conditions do vary from season to season: 

Summer (June to August)

Temperatures range from 50° to 65°F. While these pleasant conditions are great for spending time outdoors, rain is, unsurprisingly, quite frequent. This is particularly true for July, so pack lightweight, waterproof layers. 

Fall (September to November)

Temperatures tend to drop substantially, with the average sitting between 40° and 55°F. Rainfall also remains fairly regular, so make sure you pack waterproof gear, even if it looks like it will be a dry day. 

Winter (December to February)

Due to how far south it is along Alaska’s Inside Passage, winters are relatively mild by Alaskan standards. Anticipate temperatures between 30° and 45°F, but plenty of rain. Snowfall is uncommon, so you will want to prioritize waterproof clothing rather than typical winter outerwear. 

Spring (March to May)

Spring temperatures range between 40° and 55°F. The milder weather also brings even more rain, so be ready to get wet. 

Navigating from the Port to the City 

As mentioned, Ketchikan Cruise Port is located conveniently close to the city’s southern edge. If you want to go to the town center, you can easily board one of the free shuttle buses.

Ketchikan Map
Ketchikan Map (Photo Credit: Alexandre.ROSA)

If you prefer to make your way into the city more directly, there are taxi pickup zones just outside the port. Remember that Ketchikan has a small population, so there are few taxis, and rideshare services, like Uber, are non-existent.

Worth Reading: Skagway Cruise Port – What You Need to Know

Port staff will direct you during the disembarkation process, so navigating the port is pretty straightforward. 

Things to Do Near the Port of Ketchikan 

Since the port is so conveniently close to the city, there are plenty of things those visiting by cruise ship can do, even if they do not want to travel far. We recommend the following attractions, as they’re all within walking distance: 

Visit the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

Located just a two-minute walk from the cruise ship docks, this small visitor center is a great place to start your Ketchikan adventure. Operated by the US Forest Service as part of their duty to protect the Tongass National Forest, the center offers an excellent background in the region.

Southeast Alaska Discovery Center
Southeast Alaska Discovery Center (Photo Credit: EWY Media)

With interactive exhibits and hosted activities informing visitors about the area’s culture, history, and local wildlife, you will learn plenty. Learn all about the unique nature of Southeast Alaska’s coastal waters and temperate rainforest ecosystem before you venture out to explore it first-hand. 

Make Your Way to the Ketchikan Totem Heritage Center

Located just a 15-minute walk from the port, the Totem Heritage Center allows visitors to examine the intricate carvings of real totem poles. Learn all about the stories and traditions of Alaska’s indigenous peoples with your own eyes. 

Wander Down Creek Street

Walking to Ketchikan’s most historic area only takes about seven minutes. The street is actually a raised boardwalk that sits on stilts, so it has a genuinely rugged appearance. In the olden days, the “street” served as the town’s red-light district, where fisherman and sailors passing through Ketchikan would spend their hard-earned money.

Creek Street in Ketchikan
Creek Street in Ketchikan (Photo Credit: Alexandre.ROSA)

Today, visitors can walk along the water and view historic wooden buildings that once served as brothels and seedy bars. Make sure you check out Dolly’s House Museum along Creek Street for souvenirs. 

Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness Flyover Tours

Consider taking a seaplane tour of this national monument and wilderness preserve. Just 22 miles east of Ketchikan, plenty of tour operators are willing to fly visitors over the area.

View glaciers and the rainforest vegetation, and try to spot some of Alaska’s famed wildlife, like grizzly bears, bald eagles, seals, and even humpback whales.

Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska
Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska (Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators)

Almost every package will include roundtrip transportation from the cruise ship port to the float plane docks, so it is very easy to enjoy this unique experience. 

Salmon Fishing Charters

If you want to feel like you’re in an episode of Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, you can’t miss out on the chance to fish Ketchikan’s pristine waters. Salmon fishing charters are easy to book, and most depart from docks near the cruise port, including Ketchikan’s Finest Fishing Charters, which you can walk to in minutes. 

Hiking Trails

If you want to brave the rain and explore the wilderness of Alaska by foot, there are plenty of options for scenic hiking trails, including the Rainbird Trail and Deer Mountain Trails. At a distance of 1.3 miles from the port, the Deer Mountain Trailhead is the easiest to reach. Just make sure you dress appropriately, as the 5.2-mile trail takes about 4 hours to complete. 

Dining and Shopping in Ketchikan

Despite its small size, Ketchikan has a vibrant and unique culinary scene. The Alaska Fish House and Annabelle’s Famous Keg and Chowder House are good places to sample some of the freshly caught seafood.

If seafood isn’t your thing, Tap House & Burger Bar is a nice casual spot. For those looking to wet their whistle, Arctic Bar is definitely worth a visit. As Ketchikan’s oldest continuously operating bar, it’s a meeting point for locals and tourists alike.

Alaska Fish House in Ketchikan, Right Next to the Port
Alaska Fish House in Ketchikan, Right Next to the Port (Photo Credit: Alexandre.ROSA)

As for shopping, Ketchikan has plenty of independently owned stores, most of which specialize in gifts and souvenirs. There are also several art galleries offering both traditional native and contemporary art pieces. 

If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, we recommend visiting Salmon Landing Market, just outside the cruise port. If you need hiking gear and warm clothing, Pacific Pride and Tongass Trading Co. are two outdoor outfitters in downtown Ketchikan, and locals trust both. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Is Ketchikan walkable from a cruise ship? 

Yes, you can easily walk into Ketchikan from your cruise ship, as the port is located right on the city border. 

Can I tour Ketchikan on my own? 

Absolutely! Ketchikan is a very walkable city and home to plenty of interesting tourist destinations. While there are plenty of walking tours you can participate in, they aren’t necessary to enjoy the city. 

Is there a free shuttle in Ketchikan? 

Yes, the city of Ketchikan operates a free shuttle that takes cruise passengers from the cruise ship berths to the city center.

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