Cruise Review: Celebrity Solstice Alaska Itinerary June 2023 – Part 3: Ketchikan

Our first port on our 2023 Alaskan cruise on Celebrity Solstice was Ketchikan, Alaska. We arrived pretty early and the excursion I booked wasn’t until the afternoon, so we had time to walk around town before the excursion.

I did some geocaching here too. At one point, some of my friend were sitting on a bench I thought housed a cache, and I got them all looking for it. It turned out to be on a different bench nearby, even if the pictures seemed to indicate it was where they were sitting. The town was pretty, and we were lucky enough to be there before may of the other ships that were in town that day.

Our excursion here was the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour. I am a huge fan of the show Deadliest Catch. The Aleutian Ballard was on the second season of the show and now takes people on a “crab fishing expedition” out of Ketchikan. They aren’t allowed to catch crab out of season, but there’s a nearby sovereign tribe that allows them to do so in their waters for the excursion and they receive a payment from them every year. They don’t bring up large amounts of crab anyway; most of what we observe are the crabs in the tanks on the ship.

It was a beautiful day to be out on the water, in contrast to the forecast which had called for 50s and rainy all week. The first thing we brought up were fish that they would use for bait. There were rock fish and even red snapper, which they usually don’t see. We also got to practice holding “the hook” that they use to retrieve the crab pots.

What was the bait used for? Not for crab! Again, because we were in sovereign waters, there were different rules. Normally, it’s against the law to feed bald eagles. However, this was the one place it could be done. I took a number of videos of a flock of eagles all around the boat going after the bait tossed in the water. At one point, I think there were about 20 circling us. This experience alone made the cruise for me!

When they brought up the round crab pot, there were a few crabs in them. The large crab trap, like the kind you see on the show, only had some fake crab in it. Why?……

Octopus! The octopus will go in the cages and eat the crab in there. This is an octopus they’ve caught a few times in the traps, so they put him in another trap as “time out” before they release him again. They took questions and I asked how much we see on the show is real and how much is “dramatic.” They answered that most of what we see is real. The drama between the crew is something they don’t allow, so that is played up for television. He said you can’t have that going on when you’re crab fishing.

This was the best of the excursions we took, in my opinion. I think even if you don’t watch Deadliest Catch you’ll really enjoy it. They do a fantastic job bringing nature to us as well as showing a little of what crab fishing is like.

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