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Alaska Port Reviews
Icy Strait Point Shore Excursion On Your Own
By Tom Ogg



The Radiance of the Seas Anchored Off Icy Strait Point

Overview:


Icy Strait Point

Icy Strait Point is a relatively new port being visited by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Celebrity Cruises. It is an old cannery that has long since shut down, but has been converted into a themed destination by the residents of Hoonah. The Indians of Hoonah were presented with the option of moving to a reservation, but elected to start their own corporation and become self-sufficient. I spoke with a young lady that took great pride in the fact that her community had made the decisions that they have and I, as an American do too.

I had read reviews of Icy Strait Point in some communities and they were somewhat negative. Folks, this is one great port, as it displays exactly what Alaska is all about. I will try to share why in this review. If you visit Icy Strait Point be sure to immerse yourself in the local community and enjoy. If you don't, you will miss the complete experience.

Cruise Port Location and Information:


Tendering Into Icy Strait Point

Ships anchor off of Icy Strait Point and tender into the tender wharf. The second that you arrive you begin to understand that this is not a typical Alaskan port of call.


Fresh Crabs Being Taken From Storage on the Tender Wharf

The first thing that I saw was someone netting crabs from a confinement on the pier. They were scooping up Dungeness crabs that were alive and healthy. I knew that they were going to be served later in the day.

Exploring on Your Own:


Flowers in Hoonah

Icy Strait Point is very much like the port of Costa Maya in Mexico. If you get off the ship and just visit the old cannery turned cruise port, you will be disappointed. But if you walk into the adjoining village of Hoonah, you will be captivated. Hoonah is not a tourist attraction at all. It is where the Indians live that work at Icy Strait Point. If you visit Hoonah, you will come away with a complete feeling of satisfaction because the secret to Icy Strait Point lies in the people that created it.

Talk with the sales people in the section of the cannery operated by Hoonah Corporation and they will openly share their lives and experiences with you.

NOTE: If you plan on taking an excursion from Icy Strait Point, you MUST book it on your cruise ship prior to arriving at Icy Straight Point. None of the excursions will be available to visitors not book by the cruise line.

Shopping Tips:


Icy Strait Point Shopping

The cannery and out buildings in Icy Strait are all about shopping. All sorts of products are available and by buying here you are helping the Tlingit Indians. Hoonah is the largest Tlingit village in southeast Alaska.


Icy Strait Point Shopping

You will find tons of tee shirts, parkas, sweatshirts and other clothing items.


The Various Shops in the Cannery

Many of the stores sale local art and craft items that are collectible.


Leather Goods are Plentiful

You will also see furs and other leather goods.


More Tee Shirts and Logo Clothing

The prices on most of the items in the stores are quite reasonable.


The Local Cream Remedies Are Fantastic

Of special note are the cream remedies that the Indians produce and sell. They are made from local bushes and shrubs and deal with a wide variety of issues. The thing is, they really work. My wife suffers from eczema and purchased some local cream said to heal eczema. It did!


More Local Art

One could have a great time just shopping in the cannery.


The Hoonah Packing Company Turned Shopping Center

While there is ample shopping in the Hoonah Packing Company stores there is also a couple of shops in downtown Hoonah.


Downtown Hoonah

One store had some great Alaskan tee shirts with completely unique designs.

Port Highlights:


The Icy Strait Zip Line

Icy Strait Point boasts the world's longest zip line. I suspect that it is, as it take approximately 45-minutes to drive to the top of the mountain where the ride begins. The ride is 5,330 feet long and has a vertical drop of 1,300 feet. You hit a maximum speed of 60 mph and the entire ride takes less than two minutes. Also, you will need to book this with the ship, as it will sell out and is not available off of the ship if you decide to do it.


The Hoonah Packing Company Museum

Part of the Icy Strait Point complex includes a free museum that documents the cannery's history. It is extremely interesting and well worth the time to explore it.


The Icy Strait Point Forest Trail

The forest surrounding Icy Strait Point and between Icy Strait Point and Hoonah is simply beautiful. A forest trail is maintained for folks to explore the deep forest at Icy Strait Point and it is very enjoyable.


The Rain Forest

The forest is populated with fragile ferns and other plants that grace the forest floor. The entire forest floor feels as if you are walking on a soft mattress because of the compost that has piled up year after year.


Icy Strait Point Bicycle Rentals

Once you are done exploring Icy Strait Point you will probably want to make your way to Hoonah. There are three ways to do it. There is a shuttle that will take you for $5.00, you can rent a bicycle and ride your way there or you can walk.


One of the Waterfalls on the Way to Hoonah

I would recommend walking simply because this will expose you some of the most beautiful countryside that you have ever seen. On our walk (there and back) we saw sea lions, a humpback whale, a bald eagle and several small animals. This is Alaska at its best. You will see several waterfalls, rugged forest, sea life galore and many animals and birds. The walk is about a mile and a half with no hills whatsoever. There is a trail that follows the road right along the coast and it is surrounded by forest and beauty.


A Hoonah Graveyard

You will pass two graveyards on the way and they are well worth visiting. The graveyards document the history of Hoonah quite nicely.


A Hoonah Totem Pole

As you arrive in Hoonah you will pass the hardware store and local market. There is little doubt that Hoonah is not a tourist destination.


Downtown Hoonah

Hoonah is a small village made up of a ferry terminal and the vital necessities for living. There is a small grocery store, hardware store, a couple of shops and some restaurants. Hoonah is the regional center for fisherman and fresh fish is available every morning on the docks. There is a ferry that runs between Juneau and Hoonah that is used by locals to get into the "city"

Off the Beaten Path:


Grandma Nina's Coffee Shop in Hoonah

Teckk Outfitters is located in Grandma Nina's Coffee Shop and offers local fishing excursions for both fresh water and salt water experiences. They can also arrange bear watch trips, as well. Contact them in advance of arriving in Icy Straight Point to book your excursion.
(http://www.teckkoutfittersicystrait.com/)

Dining and Drinking Suggestions:


Mary's Restaurant

Mary's Inn, Hoonah: All three restaurants in Hoonah are excellent, but Mary's was simply outstanding! This restaurant was the high point of the visit to Icy Strait Point. Since we were just trying the food, we ordered a single order of halibut and chips that we shared just so we could experience the quality. The fish was the best of the entire trip and also very plentiful. The owner then gave us a bowl of egg drop soup and poured tea for all of us. The soup and the tea were no charge. If you are going to dine off of the ship, definitely make your way to Mary's and enjoy!


The Owners of Mary's Restaurant in Hoonah

Besides fresh fish, the owners offer a complete Chinese food menu that was to die for. I love Chinese food and was regretting not being able to try several of their creative dishes.

Mary's Inn Restaurant Hoonah, Alaska
Mary and Me

I watched as the husband prepared several dishes in a wok that looked as good as any I have ever seen. This place is awesome! Mary's wonderful personality and caring nature make this restaurant a complete winner.


The Office

The Office, Hoonah: The runner up restaurant in Hoonah was the Office. They were cooking fresh crabs in the pot on the porch of the restaurant when folks order them. This is the true meaning of "fresh" crabs. We ordered a Dungeness crab that we split between us and also an Alaskan Amber.


The Office Interior

While the Office was full of locals and some cruise passengers, Mary's wins hands down. However, if you want crab specifically, the Office is much better than the Crab Station in Icy Strait Point.

Icy Strait Point Restaurants


The Crab Station

The Crab Station: I found this place a little misleading. There is an aquarium adjacent to the Crab Station that has some wonderful large Dungeness crabs in it serving as an advertisement. We ordered one crab to check out the quality and was served a small Dungeness crab that was easily half the size of the one we were served in the Office. The catch? We were charged $23.95 for the crab. My suggestion make you way to Hoonah before you eat anything.


The Cookhouse Restaurant

The Cookhouse Restaurant: Not really a restaurant, but a burger and seafood cafe.


Cookhouse Restaurant Interior

This is a self serve restaurant with plastic forks and knives. It can be very crowded and noisy. Unless you are starving, go to Hoonah.


The Landing Zone Restaurant and Bar

The Landing Zone Restaurant and Bar: Next to the Zip Line landing zone you will find the Landing Zone Restaurant and Bar. We were full by the time we arrived here, so just checked out the menu and found it was exactly the same as the Cookhouse Restaurant.

Must Do List:

While I didn't do it, I would say that doing the Zip Line is a "must do" I would certainly sign up for it on my next visit. Everyone that did it raved about the experience. Icy Strait Point has an excellent website that will help you plan your visit. Click HERE to visit it.

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Copyright 2012 Tom Ogg & Associates * All content and information is property of TOA