Icy Strait Point Alaska

Posted on Saturday, January 30, 2010

Alaska has a new cruise port. Icy Strait Point is a one-stop shop for many of the things people go to Alaska to see. Located on the same Island as Hoonah, Alaska's largest Huna Tlingit village opened to non-cruisers on day trips from Juneau in 2008, but the vast majority of its visitors come on cruise ships. Visiting Icy Strait independently requires a twenty minute flight from Juneau. Icy Strait's wildlife tours will almost guarantee seeing animals. Whale-watching tours have had sightings 100% of the time so far and on wildlife-viewing trips last season, bears were spotted 85% of the time.

What also sets Icy Strait apart is that it is owned and run by locals and indigenous Alaskans.  Icy Strait is not only about wildlife. Its tribal dance show is highly rated by visitors. Since this is the site of a former fish cannery, its sport fishing trips take aspiring fishers to some of the best spots in southeast Alaska.

A cozy museum occupies the cannery that once sent salmon to all parts of the US. Guests can walk around a restored canning line and learn about the history of commercial fishing in southeast Alaska as well as about Alaskan history and native culture.

In a refreshing change, this is not a port with seven identical-looking watch and jewelry shops lining the main street. There is no main street. There are shops set in the restored cannery that sell everything from salmon jerky to locally made crafts, but no two stores offer the same products. Another nice feature is that passengers can walk right off the dock and onto a pristine nature trail. Also right off the dock is an eternal flame where passengers can listen to an elder Tlingit talk about Tlingit traditions, such as why it's good luck to throw the cedar wood chip given to every Icy Strait Point visitor into the fire.

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