Visiting On a Cruise Ship...What Will I Have Time For?Posted on: December 31, 1969 at 7:00PMPosted in: Main Topic
Coming to Kodiak, Alaska on a cruise ship is a great way to sample the area. One of the things I see people struggle with when cruising to Kodiak is how to spend what little time they have here.
I’ve been on cruises where it was easy to purchase a tour once we arrived in port. It saves a bit on the price but is not such a good idea in Kodiak. Kodiak doesn’t have the large tourism base of other areas, so the tour companies that are here fill up fast when a ship comes in.
If you want to save a few dollars, book ahead of time, before the cruise. The tours are mostly the same ones you book through the ship. The cruise lines are in business and any good business needs to make a profit, so booking through the ship will cost you a little more. That being said, if you don’t have a tour purchased yet, seriously consider setting one up through the ship. Once here the tours are usually full with passengers that have booked ahead of time. It can be difficult to find a seat on the tour of your choice after arriving. All of the tour operators are aware of the ship’s schedule and will have you back in plenty of time to re-board.
Have alternate plans if the tour you’ve chosen is dependent on weather. We can’t control Mother Nature. Bear viewing flights are one of those trips that are weather dependent. Some others are deep sea fishing and kayaking.
If the weather doesn’t co-operate what can you do? First, stop in at the Discover Kodiak Visitor Information Center. There are regular buses from the cruise ship dock to the visitor center, which is located downtown. The visitor center staff polls tour operators the day before your ship arrives to see who still has tour spots open. They’re also a wealth of information on what else you can do during the short time you have here and may come up with some ideas you haven’t considered.
Here are some options if you know you want to visit places that aren’t within walking distance. You can book a sight-seeing tour that hits all the high-lights. You can charter a taxi-cab by the hour. The price is the same if you have one person or five people. Let the taxi dispatcher know that you want to charter the cab for a tour and request someone who can speak English, if it’s your language. A taxi-cab may also be a good choice if you want to go out to the US Coast Guard Base and you have base privileges. Make sure you request a driver that is able to enter the base. If you prefer to adventure out on your own you might consider renting a car. Budget has a downtown location. Budget and Avis both have airport locations but may be willing to bring a rental vehicle to town for you.
In the downtown area you will find the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Baranov Museum, Alutiiq Museum and the Bear Town Market, (local handmade crafts), and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral along with various shops. They are all easily within walking distance of each other. There is a short 1 ½ to 2 hour harbor tour that gets great reviews and can be picked up right down town.
If you’re a little more energetic you can go across the bridge to Near Island and hike the trails at North End Park. You can go to the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center. The Fisheries Research Center hosts a two story aquarium that houses local aquatic species. They also have a touch tank with tide pool critters and other fishery related displays.
There are always cruise passengers who want to go to places that are not within in walking distance, like Fort Abercrombie and the Military History Museum. Find a like-minded passenger or two and share the fare. The same thing goes for Walmart and Safeway, the only drug stores in town.