The Sojourn is smaller than most of the cruise ships that stop in Ketchikan. At 650 feet, its passenger capacity is a mere 458. What it lacks in sheer size, though, it makes up for in luxurious amenities.
About 10 Ketchikan residents boarded the ship for the blessing of the vessel and a quick tour.
Once on board, the group was met by Jason Gelineau, the ship’s hotel director. This wasn’t his first time in Ketchikan, he said. A native of Perth, Australia, Gelineau fondly remembered stopping in the First City on other ships.
“And I remember in the ‘90s when I used to come here, it used to always impress me – and it was just here on the Tongass Road – it would have a big banner that said, ‘Welcome all cruise ship crew,’ and then in small letters, ‘and passengers,’” he said.
Gelineau is no stranger to Ketchikan’s most popular haunts.
“I was telling this story last week, that – Annabelle’s – when I first started my career at sea in the early ‘90s, I had many a first date there, for lunch,” he said, laughing. “And to see that it’s still around is good. Tradition.”
The group of local residents included Joe Williams, a Tlingit tour guide. Williams warmed a traditional drum he had brought for the blessing with a hair dryer, to the amusement of the room. He introduced himself to the group.
“I am a Tlingit Indian,” he said. “My name is Joe Williams, and my real name is Ka Xesh X’e. What we do is welcome you, since you’re here for the very first time, we welcome you with open arms and we’re really excited for your presence.”
He shook a rattle and began to sing.
Williams paused, explaining that the song is traditionally meant to be much longer. He picked up the drum and began a different song.
When Williams finished, Gelineau thanked him. He accepted a painting of Creek Street by local artist Terry Pyles, who was also on board the ship.
Then Gelineau presented city manager Karl Amylon with the ship’s emblem.
“So, again, it’s such a wonderful welcome to your beautiful city, and we look forward to many, many more returns and contributing to the economy,” he said.
The Sojourn is scheduled to stop in Ketchikan 10 times this summer. It will be back in port July 17th.