Sitka Cruise Port Guide

When you embark on a cruise to Sitka, Alaska, you’ll find yourself nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the stunning Alaskan wilderness. Known for its rich Tlingit heritage and Russian colonial past, Sitka is a cultural jewel of the Last Frontier.

Like other towns along the Inside Passage, Sitka is surrounded by natural beauty and is a prime location for spotting wildlife. The town lies on the 100-mile-long Baranof Island, only accessible by air or sea, and covered by the dense Tongass Forest. The combination of Sitka's stunning landscapes, rich history, and unique culture makes it a must-visit destination on any Alaska cruise itinerary.

Cruises to Sitka, Alaska

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises to Sitka, Alaska

St. Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral

A majestic Russian Orthodox cathedral was built on this site between 1844 and 1848 and stood for more than 100 years until it was destroyed in a fire in 1966. Until then, the church was Alaska’s oldest religious structure, dating back to the Russian era. Luckily, many priceless icons and other treasures were saved, and a replica of the historic church, complete with its distinctive green domes and golden crosses, was built by the citizens of Sitka.

Whale Park

Sitka’s Whale Park is a wonderful place from which to spot whales from dry land. A boardwalk runs through the park with ocean views and a hydrophone which visitors can use to listen to whalesong. Various species of whale can be seen here throughout the summer season, as well as bald eagles, sea lions, harbor seals, and sea otters.

Alaska Raptor Center

The Alaska Raptor Center offers a great opportunity to get close to magnificent birds of prey which have been brought in for rehabilitation. The center depends on donations and provides a vital facility for bald eagles and other raptors which have been injured. Many of the birds are re-taught to fly in a special flight training center, while those that can’t be released back into the wild are housed in a natural eagle habitat. A visit here is a rewarding day out for the whole family.

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Top Things to Do in Sitka Alaska

Visit the Fortress of the Bear

See brown and black bears up close and learn about their rehabilitation at this fascinating bear cub orphanage. Abandoned cubs are taken in and reared in conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible, with the ultimate goal of releasing bears into the wild. You can observe the eight resident bears from a viewing platform and learn from volunteers about the work of the center, the individual personalities of the bears, and the challenges facing Alaskan bears today.

Take a High-Speed Boat Ride

Whizz at speeds of up to 50 mph across Sitka Sound on a specially designed rigid inflatable boat. You’ll slow down to admire the volcanic coastline of Kruzof Island, shaped by Mt. Edgecumbe, and St. Lazaria Island, where you’ll see thousands of birds like glossy cormorants and tufted puffins. You could also spot whales, sea otters, and sea lions, too. If conditions are right, there’s a chance to explore lava-formed sea caves.

Explore Sitka’s National Historic Park

Alaska’s smallest national park is also the site where the Tlingits were defeated by invading Russians in 1804. A peaceful place today, the park is dense with mature spruce and hemlock. It’s the perfect setting for the original totems created by Tlingit artists, each piece telling a story. You can also visit the Russian Bishop’s House, one of the few remaining examples of colonial Russian architecture in the United States.

Food & Drink Spots Near the Sitka Cruise Port

Halibut Point Crab and Chowder, 4513 Halibut Point Road

Located at the Old Sitka Dock, this family-owned and operated fresh seafood joint serves fresh salmon, cod, halibut, Dungeness crab, and more. Come for a locally crafted beer or sip coffee brewed with locally roasted beans.


Campfire Kitchen Sitka, 1209 Sawmill Creek Road

Everything is made from scratch in this friendly pizza restaurant, including the mozzarella. The pizzas are cooked over a wood fire, and the regularly changing menu always showcases local ingredients.


Beak Restaurant, 2 Lincoln Street

This ethical restaurant specializes in Alaskan seafood and aims to provide year-round employment to local people—and pay them a living wage, so you are not expected to tip. Try Alaskan salmon, served in a sandwich with pickled kelp, rockfish tacos, locally made reindeer sausages, and delicious desserts made with Tillamook ice cream from Oregon.

Culture & History of Sitka, Alaska

Sitka is a small, artistic community of around 9,000, with a thriving Native culture and a deep connection to the wilderness that surrounds the town. The Tlingit have fished and lived here for more than 10,000 years, their peaceful existence disturbed in 1799 by the arrival of Alexandr Baranov, who founded a town here to exploit the pelts of sea otters. After various skirmishes, a fierce battle in 1804 drove the Tlingit back to the forest, and Sitka became a permanent Russian fort called Novoarkhangelsk, or New Archangel.

In 1867, following the decline of the fur trade and the disaster of the Crimean War,  the Russians sold Alaska to the United States for a mere $7.2 million, and Sitka became Alaska’s first capital city. This honor was passed on to Juneau in 1906 as Sitka fell into relative economic decline, being located away from the epicenter of the Klondike Gold Rush. Fishing and tourism are Sitka’s biggest industries today, with Russian heritage and architecture very much a part of the town’s culture.

Sitka, Alaska Cruise Port Facilities & Location

Sitka cruise ships dock at the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal at Halibut Point, around five miles north of the city. On busier days, when all the berths are occupied, ships may drop anchor off Crescent Harbor and ferry guests ashore by tender.

The cruise terminal has food outlets, locally-owned gift shops, high speed Wi-Fi, and a free shuttle service that will transport you to downtown Sitka for the day. You’ll be dropped off at Harrigan Centennial Hall, where there’s a visitor information center.

Transportation in Sitka

Sitka has an effective public transportation system called the RIDE, which operates three routes covering the downtown area. The city center is compact, though, and most of the major sights can be reached on foot. Mountain bikes and e-bikes are also available for day rental. There are a couple of local taxi companies, but you should book in advance. Car rental is available, too.

Shopping Near the Sitka Cruise Port

Most of the shopping in Sitka is along Lincoln Street, where you’ll find souvenir shops, galleries, and jewelry shops. Many souvenirs from Sitka have a decidedly Russian flavor. Alongside Tlingit carvings, woven baskets, silverware, herbal soaps, and masks, you’ll find Russian lacquer boxes, nesting Russian dolls, and recreations of Russian icons. There are plenty of edible gifts, too, from smoked salmon to berry preserves. Spend time browsing the local galleries; this is a very creative community, and you’ll find original paintings, photographic art, prints, mosaics, and ornaments. Buying from a gallery supports local artists, but always look for the “Made in Alaska” mark to ensure the authenticity of goods.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

Currency used in Sitka is the U.S. Dollar. Tipping is not mandatory, but it is customary in Sitka, just as it is throughout Alaska and all of the U.S. Typical amounts include up to 20% in restaurants, around 10% for taxis and bartenders, and for a good tour guide, 10% or more of the cost of the tour. There are several ATMs in the downtown area, and credit cards are widely accepted.


To explore further into Alaska, you can extend your cruise with a Cruisetour. This allows you to travel inland via motorcoach and railway exploring Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, Talkeetna, Girdwood (Alyeska) and Denali National Park, taking in the views of the highest mountain peak in North America. Cruisetours include the finest hotel accommodations, a local dedicated Alaskan Tour Director, luxury transportation, and some activities.

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