5th Day Ketchikan

At one time, Ketchikan produced more than 2,000,000 cases of salmon per year. Today, they probably do the same output of T-shirts. Over 400 cruise ships call here each year and the town has far out bustled the days of Gold Rush Fever, although the original Dolly’s House, now a museum is still standing. Dolly’s was known as the place “where men and salmon came upstream to spawn.”

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Talking about 400 cruise ships, try these figures. Alaska has put a $50 head tax on every cruise ship passenger who comes to an Alaskan port. Figure an average of at least 1500 passengers per ship, and the math works out to be around 30 million a year.

Since we have been in Ketchikan a few times, we hung out on board and explored the ship. Both Michael and I have been trying to categorize the feeling we get on Pearl. There is nothing subtle about the décor, yet it doesn’t hit you in the face. It’s light and airy, and so far the best we’ve come up with is “whimsical”.

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The Garden Café, buffet style food, had more selections than any ship we’ve sailed. There’s the pasta station, the crepe station, vegetarian, grill, roasts, salads, seafood, and desserts. And I must mention the free ice cream. Six or seven flavors are offered, and large dollops fill the cones. This is one place where there is always a line. Can’t find a seat? Just keep on walking to the large outdoor eating area. Nice for Alaska but even better for the Pearl’s canal, and Caribbean itineraries.

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There are sport areas all over the ship; a climbing wall, basketball courts, golf putting and driving cage, even a life-sized chess set.

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. Inside, there’s a card room, library and internet café. Wireless is available in all public areas, and you can get a cable for stateroom connection. And, oh yes, your cellular phone works both in port and at sea.

One discovery we made is the self service laundries. You won’t find them shown on the deck plans on Pearl’s web page, but there are three of them. Look in the Guest Services Directory in your cabin. Four quarters gets you a squirt of detergent; the washers and dryers are free. A baggie of Tide in your suitcase is not a bad idea.

Most cruise ships have some kind of art display at the stair landings between decks. This ship’s art is just fun.

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My favorite:

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One of the outstanding features of Pearl is the attention to unique lounging furniture. At the pool, there are two person wicker couches.

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In the Atrium, plenty of landing places.

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And the area of Bliss Ultra Lounge near the bowling lanes, outdoes them all.

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We ate in the Lotus Garden ($10) where the food would best be described as Asian Fusion. Outstanding. I had the most succulent steamed sea bass I ever balanced on my Ohashi (chopsticks). That was the main dish, and it was accompanied by all kinds of Asian starters. I am continually impressed by the meals served on this ship.

Keeping with the Asian theme we went to the main show, Garden of the Geisha; a bound foot step up from the last Stardust Theater presentation.

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