When a new cruise ship arrives in port, there are some traditional formalities. Local officials and media are invited onboard, there are snacks and speeches, plaques are exchanged, hands are shook, and then there’s a tour.
Usually, most of these things happen in a near-empty lounge while a ship’s thousands of cruise passengers are busy with their own tours of Ketchikan. But, when the small “Uncruise Adventures” ship, SS Legacy, tied up at the dock, its approximately 90 passengers were included in the ceremony.
Also attending the event was the company’s owner, Dan Blanchard.
“We are really glad to be bringing the SS Legacy back to Ketchikan,” he said when welcoming the visitors on board.
That’s right, it’s not actually the first time the Legacy has visited Ketchikan, but it is the first time in several years, and the first visit since the ship was refurbished.
In honor of that, the ship’s captain, Daniel Quinn, and Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor Dave Kiffer did the plaque-exchange, speeches and hand-shaking.
Saxman Mayor Joe Williams also was on board for the event, and explains that his Killer
Whale Clan recently adopted Blanchard. It turned into a learning moment for audience members, who repeated after Williams as he demonstrated some Tlingit words.
Williams, who was about to take a group of passengers on one of his popular walking tours, then sang a couple songs. The first was a Tlingit welcome song.
Traditionally, the song would continue for a couple of hours, he explains, because the singer is wearing a feather headdress, and dances as he sings. The intent is for the singer to continue until a feather has landed on everyone in the room. The second song is meant to stir up all those feathers once again.
The audience then listened to a different kind of singing, when an acapella group that had been traveling with the cruise — called Letters From Home –presented “America.”
The Legacy starts its seven-day cruises in Ketchikan, and runs to Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Fredrick Sound, Glacier Bay, Haines, Skagway and Juneau. It has a Gold Rush theme, and many of the crew dress in period costumes.
One of them is Arika Gloud. She led visitors on a tour through lounges, the outdoor deck and the “owner’s suite,” which is a special large cabin on the top deck.
Two Uncruise Adventures vessels are based out of Ketchikan now, and the Legacy will join them in 2014.
“It’s not just people coming on a boat and leaving, but there’s actually income – money that gets expended at the hotels and such,” Blanchard said. “That’s a really big thing for us as a company, and I know it’s important for Ketchikan.”
Uncruise Adventures, formerly called InnerSea Discoveries, operates seven small vessels in Southeast this season. They range in capacity from 22 guests on the Safari Quest to 152 on the Wilderness Discoverer.
The Legacy’s first stop in Ketchikan was the launch of its only cruise this season, but Southeast Alaska will see the ship weekly for three months starting next June.