Starting in 2007, Alaska Travel Adventures will be showcasing
Ketchikan’s colorful past and present-day scenic splendor aboard
the Alaska Queen, a turn-of-the-century, ocean-going sternwheeler
that is the largest steam-driven paddlewheeler west of the
Mississippi. With its Alaska Queen Paddle Wheel Adventure, a
2½-hour narrated cruise in the waters near this coastal city, the
company will reintroduce the charm and excitement of steam-driven
paddlewheeling that has been lost to a generation of Alaska
“Our goal is to provide customers a fun and festive 1890’s
Alaska gold rush experience,” said Kelli Dindinger, president of
Alaska Travel Adventures. “The combination of an authentic
steam-driven sternwheeler cruise with period entertainment and
costumes amid a background of the beautiful Ketchikan-area scenery
is sure to please our guests.”
Paddlewheelers were the first cruise ships sailing these waters,
and the vessels, destinations and passengers were quite a bit
different from today. At that time, Ketchikan was a wild frontier
town that gold seekers, con men and ladies of the night called
home. It was also a base for rampant booze smuggling during
Prohibition. The city’s Creek Street was its famed red-light
district, and since no self-respecting citizen would be caught
openly walking into the area, men used a path through the bushes
behind the houses. This later became known as the “Married Man’s
Alaska Travel Adventure’s new show will try to recreate the
bawdy Alaska of those frontier times. Boarding passengers will be
greeted by a steam calliope, enticing them into a world of saucy
characters, saloons, parlors and plush furnishings and comforts.
The steamboat even has its own signature drink, the Calliope
Cocktail, a frontier blend as bubbly as the surrounding atmosphere.
Passengers can expect skits and narration about the deeds and
misdeeds of the area’s early settlers. Also, festive, live
entertainment will consist of banjo players and/or honky-tonk piano
and other staff decked in 1890’s dress, including fanciful parlor
girls in a swirl of gold-rush-era feathers.
Interspersed with narrative on the landmarks and the area’s
history will be stories of the Klondike and Robert Service
The cruise will depart from the Ketchikan waterfront just north
of downtown near Silver Lining Seafoods and head south as far as
Saxman Village. En route landmarks include New Town, Thomas Basin,
Creek Street, Dolly’s House, Deer Mountain, Tongass Narrows,
Pennock Island, Gravina Island, Stairway Streets, Whiskey Cove, the
U.S. Coast Guard Base and the Saxman totem poles.
According to ATA’s Gary Odle, the Alaska Queen is undergoing
major modifications and retrofitting, including larger windows, for
her debut in May. She has four decks, both interior and covered
exterior viewing areas, and will have a capacity of 350 passengers.
Her twin steam engines, built in 1884, have been rebuilt and are
visible from the cabin area.
This tour dovetails well with the 1½-hour Great Alaskan
Lumberjack Show as well as the hour-long Ketchikan By Horse-Drawn
Rates are $59 for adults and $39 for children 12 and under.
Local sales tax is additional.
Most major cruise lines will be featuring the Alaska Queen
Paddle Wheel Adventure on their 2007 day-tour lists, so agents can
make arrangements for their clients directly with those lines. In
the event the cruise line is not offering the tour, or for those
clients traveling independently, make reservations direct. Agents
receive 10 percent commission.
Alaska Travel Adventures
Ketchikan Convention and Visitors Bureau