Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, sits on the Gastineau Channel of southeast Alaska. Like much of the state it is accessible only by boat or plane, although cars can get there on Alaska’s ferries. As one of the 4 main cruise ship ports in Alaska, Juneau sees lots of cruise ships throughout the summer cruising season.
Holland America ships dock right in town at the base of the Mount Roberts Tram. Princess has a nearby dock a short walk away down a scenic boardwalk along the water’s edge. The farthest dock is a mile from town. There’s a shuttle for passengers from ships docked there who don’t want to walk in. The shuttles drop passengers at the base of the tram station in the heart of the tourist area of town near booths offering an assortment of things to do.
Mount Roberts Tram is the major attraction in town. Besides excellent views on clear days the tram station at the top has things to do. There are gift shops, a restaurant, and a theater. There’s also hiking trails. Cruise ship passengers can buy tram tickets on board for the same price as on shore and go straight to the tram line, bypassing the ticket line.
With a population of over 30,000 residents, Juneau is one of Alaska’s larger cities. The city’s name comes from a gold prospector named Joe Juneau, one of the founders of the city. He is buried in Juneau’s Evergreen Cemetery.
Winters in Juneau are milder than much of Alaska with an average low of 23 degrees F. With precipitation falling in the form of rain or snow an average of 23o days of the year, it’s a good idea to pack rain gear when visiting Juneau. Spring is generally the driest and September and October the rainiest. Most snow falls between November and March.
Juneau’s main attraction is the nearby Mendenhall Glacier. Busses to the visitor’s center are readily available near the cruise ship docks at the base of the Mount Roberts Tram. There’s more than one company with busses to the glacier so you have to make sure the bus matches the company whose ticket you bought. Booths in that area allow cruise ship passengers or other Juneau visitors to book things like whale watching or kayaking Mendenhall Lake near the glacier as well as selling glacier bus tickets.
More Stuff To Do in Juneau
Things to do in Juneau include helicopter trips out to the glacier, hiking, canoeing or kayaking, whale watching, salmon bakes or beer tastings, a museum, or a tour of the state capital building. There are two different zip lines near Juneau and of course the tram and Glacier Visitor’s Center.
Some people prefer to just walk around town. There’s the waterfront to look at as well as historic buildings. Of course there are also plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars for anyone looking to part with their money.
Juneau Cruise Ship Shore Excursions
When coming to Juneau by cruise ship you have the option to book an excursion through the cruise line. Cruise ship excursions have the advantage of providing transportation to anything not right in town, and by booking through the ship if your excursion returns late the ship won’t leave without you like it will if you return late after venturing out on your own.
Ship’s excursions in Juneau often include a bus ride to places like Glacier Gardens, Mendenhall Glacier, a zip line, or to a musher’s camp including a ride on a dog-powered wheeled sled. Helicopter excursions may take people out to the glacier to ride a real dog sled or take a glacier walk. Other excursions include things like feasting at a salmon bake, river rafting or kayaking, hiking on nature trails, wildlife viewing or whale watching, panning for gold, or fishing. Flightseeing excursions sometimes include a stop at a lodge or bear sanctuary. Some excursions include more than one thing, often a stop at the Glacier Visitor’s Center plus one of the other things to see or do in Juneau.
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