Several different ways to enjoy part of Alaskan culture - the wild places and the crab feasts!
The one and only thing that we had trouble with on this tour was finding the lodge -- EVERYTHING is on a hill in Ketchikan! We drove ourselves to the lodge and knew the rough mileage of the destination as well as the address. The lodge is not well-signed at all from the road -- from the sea it's a landmark! So, if going solo, just pay attention to neighboring address ques and allow plenty of time!
After journeying down a long stretch of stairs, the lodge sits oceanside and either a boat a floatplane awaits you for a little adventure before the feast. We took the boat and went on a crabbing excursion. Since we have visited Southeast and also lived there on a few occasions, we were well-versed in the flora and fauna of the area, so it was mostly just a fantastic seaside cruise. It was neat to see the eagle interaction with the captain.
Our tour guide was fairly knowledgeable and was from Utah - very friendly overall. The boat was spacious and they provided binoculars for bird viewing. Kiddos and those adults that were interested were able to hold and take a photo with a real crab from the pot that you pull up and bring aboard. We did think that we'd be pulling a whole bunch of pots, not just one, so that was just the smallest disappointment -- but our son still got to hold a crab and get some hands-on knowledge.
Venturing back to the lodge was quick and once inside we enjoyed a delightful, fresh salad to start. The dining hall was well-lit and spacious with great views of the channel we had just been on for the tour. The feast was either all-you-can-eat crab or chicken. We ordered one chicken breast to be safe (since we didn't know if our son would eat crab) and he ended up loving the shellfish!
There were also side dish "fixin's" so you cannot possibly leave hungry! A contest was announced during the meal -- the tallest tower of crab shells would win a fabulous prize! Well, we were a competitive bunch. My family did not win, but the winner's and the grand prize was totally family friendly and really fun!
Servers were dressed in yellow slickers and were prompt with replenishing crab. My husband happened to be celebrating his birthday that very day and when I asked about the potential of having a candle to stick in the dessert, they did one better and brought out a be-candled plate of crab for a "crab cake." I even managed to surprise him, so it was a really special meal for us! Certainly a unique birthday meal!
The cheesecake following the meal was divine and I think I may have actually cheated my birthday boy husband out of half of his. Maybe.
Our son never once got bored or started to create chaos during the meal - with a preschooler, sometimes 15 minutes is what you get for meals. So, having him engaged and eating for over an hour is an awesome feat that only a fun crab feast can boast!
This tour is a little bit spendy but is one that is WELL worth it. If we had slightly older kids we would have opted for the flightseeing, but not knowing how our youngin' would react in a plane, we opted for the scenic boat ride.
This is one of the highlights of our entire Southeast Alaska trip and certainly one of the coolest things to do in and around Ketchikan. A must-do for your family vacation to Alaska's Inside Passage for sure!
Disclosure: My family received a complimentary tour and meal as guests of the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce and Experience Alaska Tours.