The bus from our scenic river raft tour dropped us off at the base of the Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau, Alaska. Glad we had purchased our tickets on the ship, we bypassed the ticket line and went straight to the tram line. Figuring in time spent in line to go back down, the return trip itself (which takes 6 minutes from the 2000 foot high top back down to the lower tram station at 27 feet above sea level ) and catching the shuttle back to the not-quite-in-town pier where the bigger ships like Norwegian Sun docked, we had about 15 minutes to spend at the top.
There seemed to be quite an extensive building up there with gift shops, a restaurant, bar, and theater. Somewhere up there there’s a nature center and observatory that we didn’t have time to look for. Along the sides of the wide hallway in from where we exited the tram, people had cameras set up to sell vacation photos to the many tourists. We bypassed all that and went outside where they had a pretty extensive set of trails. With such limited time to explore, we took a very short hike.
In June in Juneau, not all the snow melts on the tops of even small mountains. We saw snow alongside the trail here and there, and then a big patch covering the entire trail. We thought hiking through snow in June was pretty good. I topped that one later though, riding horseback through snow in August.
We managed to find a few minutes to take some photos from the top of the mountain. The tram ride itself is quite scenic, as most mountain tram rides are. I wish I had more to say about it, but we spent such a brief time at the top we didn’t see enough to know anything more than that we could have spent our entire time in Juneau up there without running out of things to do.
We definitely did not want to get left behind in port, so we made sure to come down from the mountain in time to get back to the ship. If the bus from our river raft excursion had been late, the boat would have waited since that was an official ship’s excursion, but once we left that bus we were on our own. Even though we bought the tram tickets on board, since those could be used at will and not with scheduled transportation to and from the trip they did not count as something the ship would wait for.
Only once have I ever been on a ship that did not leave port at the scheduled time. In Belize, customs took a very long time to clear the ship, so the shore excursions started late and a whole boatload of people must have had an all-day tour because they got back about an hour past time the ship should have left. I bet they were glad they had an official tour. We booked one on our own there, an excellent cave tubing adventure. Even with the late start they got us back to the ship on time.
After wondering all day why we had so little time to spend in Juneau compared to what we got in our other ports, we got back on the ship shortly before the scheduled departure time. We went up on deck to watch it leave, and there we saw a short distance away the Princess boat we seemed to see at a lot of our ports circling around waiting for us to leave so it could have our place at the dock. That pretty much explained it. Juneau did not have a whole lot of places for the larger ships to dock, so each one could only stay a short time.
Things to do in Juneau, Alaska
If you come in on a cruise ship, they offer plenty of shore excursions to choose from. A number of them involve glaciers, which you can arrive at by land, sea, or air. Other options include a zip line, fishing, wildlife watching, dogsledding, gold mining, biking, kayaking, eating salmon, a hummer tour, or a photo safari.
When we went there were also people around the town square type area where the shuttles stopped with signs offering an assortment of bargain tours, and busses people could ride to Mendenhall Glacier for a nominal fee.
Free things to do in Juneau include a self-guided walking tour (you can get a map at the visitor’s center,) or tours of a brewery or the capitol buildings.