It’s spring! This is the time of year we start to welcome cruisers back to Alaska, so we asked our friends along the Inside Passage to share a few highlights awaiting early cruise season visitors:

Getting wet in Ketchikan. Visitors on the first cruise ship of the season will receive a “wet” welcome from the Ketchikan Fire Department’s fireboat, the Harry Newell, which blasts streams of water into the air as the first ship arrives in port. Keeping with the water theme, be sure to wander along Creek Street during the Celebration of the Sea festival in early May to see the ocean-inspired work of area artists.

Seeing the birds at the Alaska Raptor Center. This avian rehab center in Sitka takes in more than 200 bald eagles, owls, and other injured birds from across Alaska each year. After a winter healing in the center’s flight training center, rehabilitated birds are released back into the wild, where they feed on the spring herring runs. Trails link the Center to the Sitka National Historical Park, where you may see bald eagles resting on towering spruce trees near one of the park’s many historic totem poles.

Hitting the trails around Juneau. There are lots of ways to see spring green this time of year in Alaska’s capitol city of Juneau – trails overlooking downtown, trails near Mendenhall Glacier, or trails near the end of the road near Point Bridget State Park and Berners Bay. Take a day-long hike or a quick meander, then follow it up with a tasty beverage and dinner at a downtown restaurant near the waterfront. Speaking of beverages try… 

Sipping on spruce tips. Spring’s natural bounty includes tasty treats like fiddlehead ferns, herring roe, and spruce tips. Alaska’s brewers take advantage of the harvest, creating seasonal craft beers using spruce tips, which add a flavorful zing to the hops. If you’re not into beer, try adding spruce tip syrup to carbonated water for a fizzy springtime drink. No matter the port of call, you’ll find a warm welcome in Alaska.