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Sitka ranks as one of Alaska’s most picturesque and historically significant towns. It is the only port on Alaska Inside Passage cruises that faces the open Pacific. With views of Mt. Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano, and island studded waters with feeding eagles, much of Alaska’s history was written here.
The first inhabitants of the area, the Kiksádi Clan of the Tlingit Indians, called their settlement Shee Atika, meaning “people on the outside of “Shee” (“Shee” being the Tlingit name for Baranof Island). In 1799, the Russians arrived with plans to develop their sea-otter hunting operations and territorial claims. Alexander Baranof, manager of the Russian-American Company, established Fort Redoubt St. Archangel Michael just north of present day Sitka. The Tlingit understandably took exception to these ambitions. Submission to the Russians meant slave labor and allegiance to the czar. In 1802, the Tlingit attacked and the colony was destroyed.
Baranof returned two years later and mounted a counterattack. The Tlingit Natives put forth a valiant effort but were out-gunned and forced into submission. Under Russian occupation the town was renamed New Archangel and served as the capital of Russian America until 1867. The Tlingit eventually returned to trade with the Russians, who welcomed the tribes hunting skills. The fur-trade flourished and the town prospered.
By mid-century, overhunting had nearly wiped out the sea otter population and Baranof questioned holding on to the unprofitable colony of Alaska. Selling it to his American allies would be viewed as a favor and provide political advantages. Of course this was viewed by Americans as the opposite. America was doing them the favor. Most Americans thought Alaska had little value and that the purchase was a waste of money. Little did we know then what we know today. In 1867, the Russians sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million. Sitka was the site for this historical transaction and the location of Alaska’s first capital until 1912, when the territorial government was moved to Juneau.
Even though tourism is important here, the residents have embraced and retained the town’s fascinating origin and authenticity. They voted against building a new cruise ship dock.
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With the cities combination of Native culture, Russian history and Alaskan wilderness, your experience while here will be unequaled. The Ocean halibut and salmon fishing is legendary and the wildlife-viewing opportunities are exceptional. Proximity to the Tongass National Forest offers a wealth of outdoor activities and there are numerous scenic trails to explore. The unique blend of Tlingit culture and Russian history makes the port interesting for walking. Download a walking tour map, Right-click to download this PDF file here, courtesy of the Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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This cruise port has a damp moderate climate. The weather is cool for most of the year. In the summer, temperatures range from lows in the upper 40s to 50s to highs in the middle to upper 60s. The warmest month of the year is August with an average maximum temperature of 63 degrees. Temperature variations between night and day tend to be fairly limited during summer with a difference that can reach 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The annual average precipitation at Sitka is 96.07 inches.
There is no deep water dock to accommodate large cruise ships. Your ship will anchor in Sitka Sound and you’ll be tendered into the main wharf. The downtown area is a short 2-block walk from the dock. Smaller ships moor at the tender pier.
What time is it?
Sitka is located in the Alaska Time Zone.
- Standard Time difference compared to UTC/GMT is -9 hours.
- Daylight Saving Time difference compared to UTC/GMT is -8 hours.
- Daylight Saving Time begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the last Sunday in October.
As part of the continental United States, English is universally spoken.
How To Pay
U.S. currency is used and accepted, as are all major credit cards. Sales tax is Sales tax is 5% October through March, 6% April through September.
Where's The Money
ATM’s are available at three banks near the center of town around Lincoln St.
- First National Bank Alaska - 318 Lincoln Street
- Alaska Pacific Bank - 315 Lincoln Street
- Wells Fargo Bank - 300 Lincoln Street
Staying In Touch
The Post Office is located at 338 Lincoln St convenient to the Tender piers and open on Saturdays.
Internet Access is available through Highliner Coffee located at 327 Seward St.
Just in case
Hospital - Sitka Community is located at 209 Moller Dr. The hospital can be reached at (907) 747-3241.
Police - For nonemergency business, call (907) 747-3245.
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