Full Speed Ahead on Mount Roberts Tram

cruise ship anchored in Juneau and tram

Mount Roberts Tram Descends Toward the Westerdam

Mount Roberts Tram

Much like the time I came to Juneau on the Norwegian Sun, on our trip on the Westerdam we returned to town from a shore excursion with just enough time left to ride up the Mount Roberts Tram.  Once again we had pre-purchased tickets on the ship to save time.  Unlike the last visit when things at the tram were normal, this time brought surprises our way.  We waited in a bit of a line to get on, unaware anything was amiss.  The next tram did seem to arrive more quickly than I remembered, but it had been a few years and I’d only gone up there once before so still didn’t know about anything unusual.

a crowd waits to get on the Mt Roberts tramway

tram car arrives at the lower tram station

After packing more people into the tram than on my previous visit, it started up the mountain at a very rapid rate.

Why Are People So Mean?

“Do you want to hear the spiel?”  the girl at the helm asked.  “I don’t have time for all of it.”

“Yes, we want to hear it,” the captive crowd replied.

abuse is not in the job description for tram workers

It’s not her fault, she just works here

She did her best, but as soon as she tried to talk the tears began to flow.  Soon she couldn’t deliver the canned speech through her tears.  Apparently the last group down had treated her quite badly.  My imagination had not run wild, the trams really did run at a higher speed that day.

It turned out that the tram had not fared well during the brief windstorm we had experienced at Mendenhall Glacier.  It lasted much longer at Mount Roberts, with high winds closing the tram down for several hours.  Instead of just enjoying their time at the top, many people lined up waiting to catch the first tram down, or at least the earliest tram possible.

How will the bears get to town?

people in line could have entertained themselves pondering whether or not they’d have to leave that gift shop stuffed bear behind

In spite of packing the cars far fuller than usual and running at high speed, they still could not get such a long line of people down the mountain as quickly as the tired-of-standing-in-line crowd would like.  So the people took out their aggressions on the most convenient tram worker – the girl on the tram.  She did not make them stand in line all that time when they could have done something else.  Obviously she had no control over the weather and did not make the safety decisions on closing the tram, but she was there and she got their abuse.

There Is Still Kindness Left In This World

The people on the way up did their best to cheer her up, and as we walked past the line waiting to get on many could be heard telling them to be nice to that poor girl.  Apparently they weren’t though because by the time we left someone else was in the tram and she was watching over the line, still looking very sad.

snow on the trail at Mt Roberts

You can find snow at the top of Mt Roberts in June

Since most people on the mountain had come from one of the cruise ships in town the tram people called all of the ships to alert them that passengers could return late if they didn’t make it down before their scheduled  departure time, and all ships agreed to wait until everyone came down the mountain before leaving.

model eagle nest

Fledgling eagle tries to leave the nest?

On my last visit to Mount Roberts we had taken a very short hike, but this time we looked around at some of the things in the buildings there.  Out in front of a little gift  shop they had a model of an eagle nest that people could climb into.  My aunt wanted me to make like an eagle for a photo, but she ended up in the photo while I took it instead.  I did the see how your arms reach compared to an eagle’s wingspan thing for her though.

wait, I don't have wings

Who’s got the bigger wingspan?

They had a little theater of some sort nearby, but we didn’t watch the movie or even look in to see what it looked like.  We probably should have gone in and watched one and gave the line more time to clear before leaving, but we had no idea they would hold the ships until we were about 2/3 of the way through the line to get back.

looking down on Juneau

view from Mount Roberts

Back at the main building we found a bigger gift shop and a restaurant.  We didn’t have dinner there.  (After all we’d have to pay for food there when perfectly good food awaited us on the ship for free.)  Later we found out my cousin and one uncle had done that and then taken the last tram back down and avoided the line completely.  They said the food at the top tasted good and didn’t cost too much.

Mt Roberts tramway Juneau, Alaska

tram leaving the upper station with Westerdam in the background

By the time we finished looking around the line had dwindled some from where it started, though since more people kept getting in it the line did stay longer than normal.  At least the angry people had all left by then.  Once we got near the front of the line I got a few chances to get photos of the ships in port, something I had not gotten a chance to do on the way up with the crowd and the speed.  I even managed to get a couple with tram and ship(s) in the same picture.

got to click fast when the tram moves at top speed

Zuiderdam and Westerdam with Mt. Roberts tram

The tram ride is nicer under normal circumstances when passengers get a chance to enjoy the view and hear the tram operator’s spiel, but that day they had to take the weather into account and did the best they could…..though I’m not sure why they let more unsuspecting people go up at the time they needed to get the others down.  In the end it all worked out though.  People probably would have been upset had they not got to go up when they wanted to, and they did get everyone back to their ships without missing the boat.  I don’t imagine that’s the first storm ever to happen on a summer day in Juneau so the people working there probably all know what they’re doing.

upper tram station Mt. Roberts

looking at Juneau from under the upper tram station

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About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
This entry was posted in Alaska, Holland America, Port Cities, Ports of Call, Shore Excursions, Westerdam and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Full Speed Ahead on Mount Roberts Tram

  1. Chris says:

    The top of the Mountian has some good views. You don’t often get to look down on a cruise ship from so high.

  2. Ruth Roberts says:

    Despite the crowded tram ride there were some interesting things at the top. Also, I found the map I wanted at the little gift shop. If we stay positive, we can almost always find something to enjoy even it conditions are not ideal.

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