Although I am not the best swimmer in the world, I’m a huge fan of snorkeling. In fact I’m such a big fan that after my first snorkeling trip many years ago upon my return home I went out and spent a small fortune setting up a salt water aquarium. I figure if I can’t travel to the Caribbean nearly as much as I’d like, I’ll just build my own little piece of the reef.
However one thing I never considered was snorkeling on an Alaskan cruise. Truthfully, if asked I would have thought you would need to be insane to even go near the water in Alaska. Surely, the water would be freezing and I’m not a big fan of In my opinion it all looks pretty but some things are better left alone (or at least left to those whack jobs that do the polar bear plunge). Now I find out that not only do people snorkel in Alaska, but its actually a pretty popular activity.
For the past 11 years former cruise ship worker Fred Drake has been taking passengers cold water snorkeling. Drake’s company, Snorkel Alaska (headquartered in Ketchikan, Alaska) outfits each passenger with all of the equipment necessary for this unique underwater adventure. The equipment provided is top notch right down to the super thick 7mm wetsuits.. It turns out that water temperature during Alaskan cruise season ranges from 45 to 65 degrees which is actually plenty warm enough when wearing a wet suit. While you won’t be able to pretend you are diving off the coast of Belize no matter how hard you try the “not freezing” temperature of the water combined with the body heat you generate within the wet suit will keep you reasonably comfortable (think Jersey Shore in the summer).
Naturally when people think of snorkeling they think of the colorful marine life of tropical waters. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the waters of Alaska would be mostly devoid of colorful underwater life. At best you would expect drab gray or olive colored sea life, but that isn’t the case in Ketchikan, Alaska. While none of the fish you’ll see will match the tangs, wrasse or parrot-fish of the Caribbean, the starfish, jellyfish, sea urchins and cucumbers can be quite impressive. If you don’t believe me check out this video.
So if you are a snorkel enthusiast and there is an Alaskan cruise in your future keep an eye out for an Alaskan snorkeling excursion. Most of the cruise lines that visit Alaska offer the excursion and Snorkel Alaska runs a great operation.
What do you think? Would you ever go cold water snorkeling in Ketchikan, Alaska?